We all know how difficult it can be to set aside time for ourselves when we are so busy. Most of us have so many obligations that can take us so far away from “us”, there is no time to reset. So what can we do?
We first need to understand that in order for changes to last long term, they have to occur slowly. When we commit too much too quickly, it always seems to end the same way. It will start off GREAT, then after about a month, we go right back to the same old habits, and there we are, left to deal with life in the same matter, which gets us nowhere!
So, here is the plan…
START WITH FINDING FIVE MINUTES, ONCE A DAY… CHOOSE MORNING OR NIGHT
Yes, you heard that correct. Five minutes. You pick where in the day you want to do this. I typically tell people that the 5 minutes before you wake up, or the 5 minutes before you go to bed is the BEST place to start.
Here are some morning ideas…
-SMILE…Nothing gets a good mood flowing like a good smile. Even if you don’t feel like it, fake it, and notice. Smiling, even when you fake it, is a great way to start the positive energy flowing in your body for the day.
-WAKE UP GRATEFUL… There is nothing that can set your mind in the right frame of mind for the day, then a morning of feeling grateful for life. So, when you wake up, put a smile on your face, and tell yourself that you are grateful for this wonderful day.
-MORNING STRETCH…This is something that you can do right there in bed. An example is to sit up, extend the legs out in front of you, then smile as you stretch your arms over your head, and exhale the arms down into a forward fold. Or better yet, place your yoga mat on the floor near your bed, so as you get out of bed, you can just plop down on your mat and do some morning stretches incorporated with breathing.
-MEDITATE…Meditation in the morning, is a great way to release the morning “monkey mind”. I know my mind is always very active in the morning, so this has always been quite beneficial for me. Place a smile on your face, (do you see a pattern here?), close your eyes and practice five minutes of being still. As thoughts come into your mind, accept them, laugh it off, and try again. The idea of smiling is to let your body know that it’s ok if thoughts come in. Over time, once you can understand you don’t need to be perfect, the body is more apt to relax about it and you will find thoughts will take longer to enter the mind. Just keep practicing!
Here are a few nighttime ideas…
Remember that when we sleep, we give our body the chance to reset and heal, so you can understand why it is SO important to get a good night sleep.
-EVENING STRETCH… I made this a habit for myself every night. I get into bed and breathe, stretch and smile, allowing my mind to settle, and let go of the days’ stresses. Notice what a little stretching can do for your body and mind before bed.
-BATH / SHOWER.. It’s always very relaxing to take a nice hot shower or warm bath before bed. It soothes the muscles, and releases tension.
-MASSAGE…A massage given by your partner or by using a hand held massager is another great way to loosen up some of the tense muscles. Concentrate on the neck and shoulders, since this is the area that we can hold a majority of that tension, but it also very beneficial to massage the back, hands, feet and legs.
NOW EXTEND THIS TO TWICE A DAY.. MORNING AND NIGHT..
Once you start to understand how just 5 minutes a day can put you in a positive frame of mind, try both morning and night. You will notice, over time, that your body will start to crave this good feeling, and you will naturally start to increase that time.
NOW LET’S BE MINDFUL 3 TIMES A DAY!
During the day, we can get busy, but never too busy to add a few quick reminders for ourselves. Here are some great ideas to try to do periodically during the day.
-SMILE.. This is easy, because it can be done ANYWHERE, and takes little effort! And I encourage you to smile AT people, since it will encourage the other person to smile back. Make those connections with people, since you never know, you may just make someone’s day! You can crack a smile in the car, to others at work, or to strangers at the grocery store…anywhere!
-BREATHE.. This is another easy one to do, since it can be done anywhere. Take a nice deep breath in…and SLOWLY exhale to a 6-7 count. As you exhale, feel the shoulders relax and drop down your back. Repeat anytime you need a reminder to release any extra tension you may have accumulated during the day.
-STRETCH.. Take a moment out of your day to stretch the arms up over your head, and exhale down into a forward fold. It takes only a few seconds to do this, and can make a world of difference to take your mind off whatever is causing you stress at that moment. Even if it is only for a few seconds, enjoy those few seconds, and notice. When you you take the time a couple times a day to do this, it gives you a moment to reset.
Practice these simple tools enough where they can become a part of your daily routine. Find times of the day you can apply any of the above. (Example: Smile when you get to work, take 5 seconds to inhale in and exhale out slowly when the day at work starts to get stressful.) Find what works best for you, and notice what happens even after only a week! You may start to feel a bit better about yourself and life, by just taking a little bit of extra time for you.
Enjoy your wonderful day..
Peace and joy.. xo
Michelle has a BS, E-RYT, YACEP, CHN, CLYL, and Y12SRL.