When you feel out of control, the last thing on your mind may be your own physical and emotional health. As life gets progressively more unruly, you probably focus on taking control of something. You might concentrate on making sure that at least you have not gone over your monthly budget. You may console yourself with the knowledge that you are on top of things at work. You could take some measure of control back by making sure that your children are getting to bed on time. When the tides of life have left you running yourself ragged, self-care is probably the last thing on your mind. “Self-care” brings images to mind of reclining in a bubble bath with a glass of wine, and you feel lucky if you manage a ten minute shower every day. You tell yourself that you can focus on yourself once you have everything under control. Unfortunately, it is hard to wrestle your life back into some semblance of order when you are exhausted, run-down, unfocused and low on energy. Taking some time to focus on your own needs can help you regain the motivation you need to win your fight with life. Here are five easy, low time commitment, self-care tips that will help you take back your life.
Give Yourself 15 Minutes
No matter how packed your schedule is, you can probably find 15 free minutes in there somewhere. Whether you set your alarm to go off a little earlier, take a slightly longer lunch break or pause for a few minutes after dinner, find or create a small gap in your schedule. This is now your “me-time.” Use this little block of time to do something that is just for you. Choose something that is not for your spouse, not for your kids and not for your friends. Pick something you enjoy doing alone and that you find relaxing and refreshing. Instead of an evening shower, spend 15 minutes soaking in a hot bath. Set your alarm for a few minutes earlier and take a 15 minute walk through the woods. Do something to refresh your energy and let yourself breathe. If even those 15 minutes feel like wasted time, remember that in airplane emergencies you have to put your own oxygen mask on first. You are not able to help anyone if you are running yourself ragged. Take a few minutes for yourself each day and, when you feel guilty for it, remind yourself of the old quote: “physician heal thyself.”
Find a De-Stressing Hobby
Unfortunately, you cannot simply will stress away. Ignoring it does not help much either. Bottling up anxiety or irritability leaves you primed to explode. You might keep a smile pasted on your face for two long, hard, stressful and frustrating weeks only to lash out at your spouse when they ask if you have seen the TV remote.
De-stressing is important, and you should take up a hobby that helps keep you calm. You might find painting to be very calming, or perhaps you enjoy singing. If you feel out of control and have limited time in your day, channel your hobby into something you already scheduled. If you like to paint and are in the process of redecorating the house, rag-roll the walls yourself rather than hiring someone else to paint the walls a solid color. If you find music relaxing, volunteer to sing in your church. If the only time you can take a breather is at night and you like to read, enjoy a novel in the evenings instead of watching reality TV. Find something you enjoy, and allow yourself to enjoy it. Take some time to work off your stress, and you will feel more in control.
If you have a smartphone or miniature tablet, you carry around the world in your pocket. You can connect with anyone anywhere in the world at any time. You have access to an overwhelming amount of information via the internet. With the explosion of online shopping options, you could comfortably live more or less your entire life without ever leaving the house. The constant bombardment of information that comes with advancements in personal technology, however, can leave you feeling like you are trapped on a roller coaster. You can see every detail of your friends’ lives on social media, and the tragedy of the day follows you around in your news app. If you have your work emails synced to your phone, you are never really on vacation, and most apps come with notifications that inform you about updates, status changes or that someone liked your recent photograph.
When you are tied to your phone, tablet or computer, you are at the mercy of the rest of the world. You struggle to control what you see, and even the best day can be ruined by a new horror on the news or the discovery that a friend is getting divorced. To take back your life, take a break from your electronics regularly. Turn your phone off after dinner or refuse to take your laptop with you on vacation. You will find that taking control of your own life is much easier once you step back and untangle yourself from other people’s lives.
Exercise seems to be the panacea for all mental, emotional or physical health concerns. Unfortunately for the couch potatoes, regular exercise can benefit almost every facet of your life. Regular exercise releases endorphins that help reduce stress and can help you sleep better at night. Exercising a few times a week will also leave you feeling more energized as your health improves.
You do not have to become a gym junkie or a workout guru to reap exercise’s myriad of benefits. A brisk morning walk around the block can help you feel more focused at work, and 30 minutes on the treadmill can do wonders for your sleep. It’s easy to make excuses for avoiding exercise. “I don’t have time” and “I’m too tired after work” are some common justifications. If you have time to watch “The Walking Dead,” you have time to exercise. You can also do both activities at once. Set up a treadmill or exercise bike in your home where you can see the TV, and watch your favorite shows while you work out. If you are a Netflix fan, you can take your tablet or smartphone with you to the gym and keep up with your favorite characters as you exercise.
Get Enough Sleep
It is hard to feel in control of your life when all you want to do is take a nap. If you are skimping on sleep, you probably do not have the motivation to take back your life even if you had the energy to do so. As anyone who has stayed up too late knows, a dearth of sleep will leave you exhausted, irritable and unable to focus the next day. In addition to miserable mornings and a deep longing for the ability to drink straight caffeine, chronic sleep deprivation has been connected to a number of physical maladies, including heart disease, diabetes, strokes and kidney disease. “Driving drowsy” is also nearly as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.
If you habitually skimp on sleep, getting enough rest will make a world of difference in your life. You will have more energy and motivation to put toward your goals, and life’s little messes will leave you far less aggravated. Make it a point to get enough shut-eye each night, and you will find it much easier to take back your life.
Self-care does not have to take a great deal of time to be extremely effective. Getting enough sleep, watching TV from a treadmill and spending a few minutes each day on yourself can leave you feeling like a whole new person. Spend some time focusing on yourself, and you will find it much easier to take back your life. After all, you cannot reasonably expect to control the many twists and turns of life if you cannot make time to control your own health. Take care of yourself, and you will find it much easier to take back control of your life.