Every busy woman, me included, knows that taking better care of yourself is easier to talk about than to actually accomplish. Life can be complicated and making changes that stick is kind of an art. But the busier my life is, and the more I care about what’s in it, the more critical self-care is to making the whole equation work.
If I am not showing up at my best, I’m not going to have my best to offer.
This year was a big one for me. I had some huge projects on my plate—including publishing my book, creating a new emotional eating program, and running two marathons. As always, life also threw in some unexpected and pretty disruptive twists. And yet, I’m here in December, feeling more peaceful and a lot less stressed than I usually do this time of year. I think it’s because, in addition to working hard, I’ve also paid a lot of attention to self-care.
Here are six things I changed this year that helped me take better care of myself:
- I meditated on a regular basis. Finally, I found a way to make this habit stick! I’ve known for most of my adult life that I function better when I set aside time to quiet my mind and simply watch my thoughts and feelings. But actually sitting down and getting quiet for more than a few minutes and for more than a few days—that was a challenge. This year (at the end of April), I invested in a meditation audio program – and it made all the difference for me. The audio tracks (they send a new one each month) have helped quiet and focus my mind when I’m stressed or busy and I think, after seven-plus months, I can safely say that this has become not only a habit, but one I really look forward to. The results so far? I feel like I cope better with stress, I’m more focused and productive, and I feel happier and am spending less time “on autopilot.” I also am finding myself more patient and less likely to react when life gets crazy—and I love this.
- I’ve been giving myself credit. I know I’m not the only one who can get stuck in the trap of focusing on what is undone and not giving myself credit for accomplishments. This year I’ve worked to reverse that trend by making efforts to celebrate the good stuff I do. I’m using this website (and more often, just a notebook on my desk) and recording what I get done each day and things that I am proud of. What I’ve learned: it’s been eye-opening to see all the good things that happen that I had been previously overlooking or taking for granted. In the beginning, it was much easier to rattle off a to-do list (the undone stuff) than to make my “things I’m proud I did list.” It’s gotten easier, and it certainly helps me end the day with a sense of accomplishment and closure.
- I’ve been wearing a pedometer. Earlier this year, I shared that I was wearing a pedometer as a part of a wellness program connected to our health insurance. I’m pretty active, and I’ll admit, I didn’t see the point of wearing this little contraption on my waistband (although it is very cute). Well, seven or eight months later, I’ve become a believer, and many of my clients have too. The Fitbit™ isn’t just for measuring exercise. Wearing it, I learned that there are times when I am very active, AND, there are times when I barely move. I’m sure you too have read all the new information about how bad it is to sit all day. Wearing my Fitbit™ has made it easier to catch this pattern. I can also see how just taking a trip to the mail box or standing up at my desk, or walking around while I take a call can make an impact. Clients are using it to set (and then stretch) do-able fitness goals. You can make an impact by moving your goals a few hundred steps at a time. It’s fun, easy, and I love getting a notification on my phone telling my I’m an overachiever or challenging me to take a few hundred more steps to meet my goal.
- I’m letting myself off the hook. I think I’m pretty good at saying no, but this year I learned to get better at letting myself let go of things that weren’t serving me. This meant not continuing to move forward on a big project that wasn’t unfolding the way I had hoped. A few years ago I’d probably have soldiered on and kept applying hard work (I’m good at that!), but this time I gave myself permission to take a step back and see that it just wasn’t meant to be right now, and it was okay to let it go. Looking back, I can see that this was one of the best decisions I made this year.
- I’m counting my blessings. Stressed out people tend to focus on what isn’t working, what is undone, and what’s all tangled up. I keep learning how well gratitude works for shifting my thinking, providing a welcome new perspective, and just helping me feel better. I know, we’ve all heard this before, but it can be so easy to forget to put my mind on gratitude. Starting my day by making a mental list of what I am grateful for has been very powerful for me this year.
- I’m stretching beyond practical. I was raised by practical people and I’m quite good at “making do” or accommodating myself to circumstances. I can easily be your “I can make that work” gal. This year, I’ve been trying on something new. Instead of asking myself “what’s possible” or “what would work under the circumstances” or “what would I be happy with” I’ve tried to start most goal setting, project planning, and brainstorming situations with a much more expansive question—“What would I love?” followed by, “Now what would I love even more than that?” If this isn’t your usual mode of operating, you might find that this kind of wild dreaming pushes a few buttons. Keep going. I’m finding that sticking with this question has helped me come up with new and more motivating ideas. It’s also helped me figure out much easier ways of doing a few things. Oh, and I’m having more fun.
What have you added in this year that is making your life better? Share the wealth by leaving a comment.
Take good care,
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”