As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed looking at all the cute Halloween costumes on the morning after the big night, I came across a post from a friend who said, “It took 13 years of being a parent and 3 kids for me to realize I have to just take Nov. 1 off. Because a lot just got done and a lot is about to happen. Join me.” My first thought: she’s a genius!
I think she’s a genius because, while we are all tired and over-committed much of the time, we have a tiny transition window in the next week or so that provides an opportunity to recharge our batteries before the insanity of the holidays descends upon us. Now, I can hear the little voice in my head saying, “but there is so much to do! How can you possibly think it is a good idea to take a break?” Do you hear that voice sometimes, too? Well, it is time to tell that voice to pipe down
I’m not saying that you need to go off on a week-long silent retreat or a vacation to a warm, sunny beach (although if you have the ability to do so, I hope you embrace it and take me with you!), but I truly believe that even small acts of self care can make a radical difference in how we are able to then tackle the upcoming craziness. So I wanted to share some ideas for small acts of self-care that can make a really big difference when you are feeling tired, overwhelmed, or just plain burnt out.
Schedule alone time. It could be for an hour, half a day, or a whole day, but schedule time for yourself in the calendar, just like any other important appointment. If child care is an issue, then talk to your spouse/partner, babysitter, best friend, and ask for that time. If a reciprocal arrangement is helpful, do it. Just schedule that time and then use it to do something for yourself (not folding laundry, going grocery shopping, or cleaning the house).
Go to bed early. We all know it, we all preach it to everyone else, but many of us don’t actually get enough sleep. If getting to bed early each night isn’t an option, then try for a certain number of nights a week when you are in bed by 9:30 or 10.
Read a book for pleasure. When was the last time you read a book for fun? Not a parenting book or a work-related book—a book just for fun. Pick one up from the library, a bookstore, or order it on Amazon, but get one that will distract and entertain you and then read a little before bed each night. (Sometimes I only get a page read and it can take me months to get through a book, but it’s time that is mine).
Write down 3 good things. This is an activity that I love. At the end of the day, take three minutes to write down three good things that happened that day and why. Take the time to feel the gratitude for those things but also to acknowledge what you did to make them happen. This small act can have a huge impact in how you feel about yourself, how you see people around you, and how you interact with the world.
Move. If you, like me, find yourself sitting at a desk or in a car for large parts of the day, make sure to get some movement in. A quick walk around the block, a few yoga stretches, a dance party in your kitchen, anything that will get the blood flowing and your body moving will help your overburdened brain. If remembering to do this is hard, try setting an alarm on your phone for two or three times in the day when you can take a 5 – 10 minute movement break.
These may seem like small acts, but if you make a concerted effort to add them to your routine, they really can make a difference in your stress level and your ability to enjoy the world around you. Even if you start with one of these and work your way up to all five, you’re doing something important to care for your self, which will ultimately help you to be happier and more available to those around you.
Do you have any self-care acts that you make an effort to build into your daily life? I’d love to hear what they are! Please share them below.