Let’s face it life is not always perfect and sometimes it’s downright trying to get the best of you. While it’s tempting to let yourself go, it’s more important than ever to take good care of yourself. It could be a move, a divorce, career stress, unexpected events or just a difficult season raising kids or in a significant relationship. Applying the age old wisdom of putting the oxygen mask on yourself first, and then on the others, that bears truer than ever. When you take care of yourself, you are better strengthened to face whatever you need to face and to be good for those depending on you.
7 Simple Ideas to take care of you when life is messy, ugly or difficult.
1. Sleep can be the first thing to go in stressful times. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep EVERY night truly gives us fresh perspective each morning. Put a fence around your sleep time and don’t make excuses that invade it. If you are having sleep trouble, take time to quiet down, journal, drink chamomile tea before bed and get your body and mind ready to rest after a stressful day. And when all else fails, flow with those times in the middle of the night to journal, read, pray and grow through this thing. And a chick flick never hurts.
2. Eat Healthy. Comfort food will call many of us at times of stress but don’t always give in. Give yourself grace if you do but focus on feeding yourself regular nourishing meals full of whole foods. Be mindful of hunger and its true roots. Be assured there are plenty of healthy, fast options available these days. Even in a hectic season, getting healthy meals, fresh juices, herbal teas is easy and they are readily available and give your cells necessary nutrients to combat stress.
3. Drink water. While we might be eager for extra coffee, soda or alcoholic beverages, get half your body weight in ounces every day if not more. You’re more likely to maintain energy, your weight, stable blood sugar and good sleeping habits when you are well hydrated.
4. Add a workout. Sometimes stress and challenging emotions just need an outlet. You may be tempted to skip the gym but now is more important than ever. An hour of a good old fashioned sweat can pay you dividends in sanity, energy and endorphins. The bottom line is don’t skip on you. I know at my gym we’ve hugged and lifted weights through divorces, miscarriages, adoptions and much more. Something about that sharing of empathy and a workout is life-affirming and any time we physically challenge ourselves, there are always positive mental effects.
5. Tap into positive people. A good support system can offer you empathy, honesty and tools to address your situation; but it can also give you a kick in the butt to keep going, to grow through this and come out on the other side stronger and brighter. Positive people won’t put up with drama but will remind you who you are and help you stay focused on what matters. Positive people will help you hold on to hope.
6. Use music and positive sermons or books to lighten the mood in your home and car. Have a dance party by yourself or with loved ones. Nothing says the good times will roll again like kicking up your heels. Find a few theme songs that motivate you to keep fighting the good fight. Turn off the news and turn on anything that gets you a little bit excited about your future.
7. Practice Gratitude. Hard times will happen to all of us but how we respond and the emotions we experience are a choice. A regular gratitude practice will stave off pity parties and downward spirals. How do you practice gratitude? Since most of us need tangible and simple ways, here are a few ideas. Write down 10-20 things you are thankful for before your feet hit the floor in the morning. Tell the people you love that you are thankful for them just being there. Text 10 people and tell them you are thankful for them or something they did for you. Thank the barista who makes your coffee and wish them well. Thank the clerk at King Soopers. Thank your kids teachers. Thank Joe for the Stapleton Scoop. Just keep passing it around and it will come back to you. Many people out there are fighting battles we know nothing about, so maybe you’ll lift someone else up who really needs it. And is there any greater gift?
Taking care of yourself during these times is selfless when you look at the rewards.