It might feel counterintuitive, but when life gets busy, making yourself a priority is so important.
If you tend to take your needs off the schedule when demands from others start taking up your time, it's time to reassess how you're managing your self-care toolbox.
Listening to our emotions or body isn't just about feeling happy and healthy; it is critical for our success as a leader and a team member too. After all, how can you help others if you’re not helping yourself?
Finding time to focus on yourself helps you better handle stress and avoid burnout. Leadership expert Michael Hyatt agrees. In his podcast, Hyatt talks about all the ways focusing on yourself actually benefit your professional life. Self-care is a way to “sharpen your blade,” he says. The things you enjoy outside of work help on the job because they can enhance creativity and self awareness, both things that are beneficial at work.
While it might seem like it's a smart strategy to take your needs off the table when life gets busy, the opposite is actually true. Life will always get busy, so you need to take care of yourself all along the way.
If you're ready to bring your best self to work, by investing in yourself and your needs, here are a few ways you can make sure you’re giving yourself enough attention, even when your schedule is jam-packed.
Put yourself on your schedule
“I’m too busy,” is a thing I like to tell myself when I’m actually just feeling unorganized and a little chaotic.
Sure, my days can get really busy, but the truth is I’m never so busy that I can’t find a few minutes every day to focus on myself.
It only takes 30 minutes of exercise to reap the benefits of serotonin (the chemical our bodies produce that helps use feel less stressed and happy). That’s an easy chunk of time to fit into your schedule -- and if you write it down, you're more likely to stick with it.
When I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed, I’ll break out the Ink+Volt Action Pad, which is designed as a goal-oriented to-do list. It helps me prioritize my busy schedule so I can more clearly see where I can fit in the time I need for myself. Plus, getting my schedule in a better place is an act of care for myself.
Write to release stress and ideas
Focusing on yourself comes more easily when it is your routine, and coincidentally, journaling becomes a more helpful practice when it’s done regularly too. You probably see where I’m going with this. Picking up a journal is an easy way to focus on yourself, and it's easy to do even if you're traveling or spending long days at the office. You can pack a journal in your bag and find time to jot a few notes down in between appointments.
These notes don't have to be life-changing or brilliant. In fact, even just noting the weather, your mood, or an interesting idea you had can relax your mind and help your brain to form new connections.
If you need a little help getting started, check out these prompts or grab a Gratitude Journal, complete with daily prompts to help you stick with a gratitude practice, which can be a great way to de-stress.
Do a low-key creative activity
With all the pressure that comes with work or school, it’s nice to take a break and do something that doesn’t come with a lot of consequences or stress.
That’s why mindfulness experts think coloring books can have such a calming effect on adults. The activity we loved when we were kids holds a lot of benefits when we grow up too. Coloring books allow us to be creative, without having to be in the driver's seat. All you have to do is follow your creative intuition and fill in those lines (or color outside if you want!).
It doesn’t hurt when a coloring page comes with an encouraging message. The Ink+Volt Inspirational Coloring Book has hand-drawn images to color in, along with an inspiring, encouraging phrase.
Other ideas for low-key activities that allow your mind to relax: reading, doing a puzzle, or taking a walk can all calm your mind while still giving you an engaging activity to do.
Savor the simple pleasures in your day
Is there a part of your normal day you truly enjoy? For me, it’s winding down with a bath at the end of a stressful day. Even when it feels like I don’t have time for much self-care, I know I can put a little extra effort into preparing a bath or shower and it feels like a treat. Whether it be a bath bomb or a sugar scrub I picked up at the grocery store, that little extra something really helps me focus on myself.
They key to enjoying the small things and focusing on yourself is to make space for “the little extra.”
For you, it might be putting a little extra effort into that morning cup of coffee or really noticing how much you enjoy the feeling of sinking into your favorite chair. Whatever your little extra is, savor it.
Reflect on your day, your body, and your mind
A little bit of reflection can go a long way, and an added bonus is that it’s also a great way to focus on yourself. Acknowledge your accomplishments! Make goals for the future! A little self recognition is in order, no matter how busy or easygoing your day was.
Reflecting is important but it can be easy to neglect between all of our responsibilities. Even doing a quick run-down or inventory of categories like relationships, nutrition, and rest can help you to notice where things are going well and where you could use more attention or care.
Get to know your needs and it will improve your life!