I have never met a single person who told me that they ever had a boring year. After all, how else would we create memories to carry with us through our lives? The highs and lows, the many laughs and tears, the challenges and successes…those experiences are what made the special memories. The unfortunate result is that by this time of year, we tend to feel drained, short-tempered, and overwhelmed with a general feeling of exhaustion. The rollercoaster that was 2019 has literally left my head spinning (I say this feeling as if I just got off a rollercoaster as I type). Although it’s been so challenging it’s also allowed us to find some great opportunities and with many, many prayers answered. But that’s an entirely different post for another day.
Learning to take care of yourself
For many of us, this is a hard lesson to learn. When there are so many things to be done, how do you manage to switch off? The fact is, this is a very important lesson we all need to learn. But self-care is also not just an action, it’s not just something you start doing and then stop. It’s a habit, it should be a part of your routine. So here are some simple ways that you can start taking care of yourself.
· Avoid emotional eating
Trust me when I say that this is something I’m guilty of too. There’s absolutely nothing in this world that a bar of chocolate or ice-cream cannot fix. Unfortunately, all these “fixes” tend to be unhealthy or result in overeating and possibly eating disorders. Rather stick to a healthier, more mindful diet and try to find something else to focus your attention on.
· Five minutes of deep breathing or meditation
Just five minute of deep breathing can focus your attention and expel negative energy. It’s a great way to escape and relax without going anywhere. Especially when in the middle of a stressful situation, it allows you to avoid any unnecessarily escalated confrontations.
· Go for a run, light jog or walk
I am one of those very rare people who can sprain an ankle just by thinking about exercise, so I’m probably the worst person to say this. But I hear it’s quite good for you and there are all kinds of benefits. I’d rather opt for the 5km walk but if a run is more your speed, have at it.
· Learn to say “No” and take some time for yourself once in a while
For some this may seem like common sense, for others, it’s much harder than it sounds. Sometimes we feel really selfish saying no to someone for our own benefit. I’ll tell you a secret…you don’t always have to put others first. It really is perfectly alright to put yourself first once in a while. I promise the world will not come to an end because you decided to say “No”.
· Start a gratitude journal/jar
There are so many variations of this, pinterest is full of ideas. I made myself a happiness jar a few years ago while I was going through a really rough time. The idea is to write at least one thing that made you smile, or are thankful for from that day. It all adds up and is a good pick-me-up on bad days.
The benefits are undeniable
- When you start saying “No” to things you don’t want to do, you free yourself up to so much more. This improved productivity can help bring your goals into focus as you are able to concentrate on what you are doing.
- By allowing yourself the time to relax, you are fortifying your immune system and lowered stress levels when your body is in a rejuvenating and restful state. Exercise also increases your physical health, so that your body can fight off colds and flu.
- Taking time to spend with yourself (me time), you learn to know yourself better and boost self-esteem. Changing your internal view of yourself can make a huge change in your behaviour. Disregarding your critical inner voice can go a long way to finding what makes you happy.
One last thought
This counts as a benefit but I feel it’s important enough to be separated. The more you give to yourself, the more you will have to give to others. Think about your car’s petrol tank. You can just keep driving but if your petrol runs out and you don’t fill up, you’ll be stuck on the side of the road. It’s the same concept. Taking a few small steps can make a huge change in your life. And don’t wait for the year-end burn-out to hit you before you realise that you need to make this change. A few lifestyle changes throughout the year will create a whole new you.