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Last Updated on December 18, 2020

13 Essential Self-Care Tips for Busy People

13 Essential Self-Care Tips for Busy People

You provide plenty of time to your work and family each day, but how much time do you allot for yourself? You go to sleep each night with the intention of carving out some “me” time tomorrow. Then before you know it, a couple days will turn into a month, and a month will turn into a year. Now you tell yourself, “I just need to grind for a couple years” and then I will be able to live the good life.

While it may seem necessary to devote all of your time to your professional life, if you want to be successful for the long-haul, you are must take care of yourself first. Although it does not feel like there is enough time in the day, you will benefit from these 13 self care tips for busy people.

When it comes to your self-care, you need a measurable and consistent strategy. Your self-care strategy needs to encourage your physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being. When you spend too much time on any one aspect of your well-being, you run the risk of losing your balance.

You need to look at your self-care as a question of self love. Do you love yourself?

While this may seem like a silly question, let me ask you it another way. How do you show yourself that you love yourself? Do you take a moment each day and ask yourself how your day went? Or do you take yourself out for lunch every so often? Do you plan fun activities or write yourself simple notes? It probably seems silly to think of yourself this way, but I want you to be honest.

If someone else treated you the way you treat yourself, would you believe them if they told you they loved you? The truth for most of us is we wouldn’t. Love is more than a word or a feeling, it is an action.

I know you do not have a lot of time, so keep in mind these self care tips are meant to be completed within a short amount of time each day. You do not need to feel pressured to add every self-care tip to your daily routine.

However, it is recommended that you add at least one self care strategy for each of the four pillars of your well-being.

1. Begin Counting Sheep

This is not the first time you have heard someone tell you how important sleep is, and I am sure it will not be the last time. Of course, late at night is when the kids go to sleep or when the company stops moving, so it is natural you want to use this time to “catch up”. However, when it comes to your self-care, if you want to operate at peak efficiency, you need to get the proper amount of sleep.

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In order to ensure you are able to get the proper amount of sleep each night, you need to make a night routine. Start by setting the time you want to wake up and then, determine what time you need to go to sleep. For example, if you need eight hours of sleep and want to wake up at 7am, then you need to be asleep by 11pm.

Now that you know the time you need to be asleep by, make a list of what needs to be done for you to go to sleep. Whether that is an email for work or helping the kids with their night time routine, you want to allot enough time for these activities so you will not be up past your bedtime.

Developing a night routine maybe a good idea: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide: Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

2. Start Moving and Shaking

You likely know exercising reduces the chance of you developing heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. However, did you know that exercise also protects your memory and thinking skills? Studies suggest that the part of your brain that controls your thinking and memory have “greater volume” in people who exercise.[1]

The recommended amount of exercise per week is 150 minutes, but it is okay if you start small and work your way up.

3. Expand Your Palate

There are plenty of nutrients in fruits and vegetables. The problem is most people do not have the proper amount of nutrients in their food. As a result, you are forced to take vitamins to get the nutrients you need.

Supplementing your nutrients with vitamins is always an option, but you have to eat anyways. Might as well kill two birds with one stone by eating foods that have a high nutritional value.

4. Take a Vacation

I know what you are thinking and you are probably right. You do not think you have time to take a vacation and you may be right in some regards. But, there is a saying that people sacrifice their health to attain wealth and then, they spend their wealth trying to buy back their health.

You do not want to stress yourself out to the point that you are making yourself sick. You do not need to take a cruise or anything grand. You can simply take an afternoon and promise not to answer any calls or check any emails.

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Spend that time as you see fit. You can use that time to clean or iron your clothes for the week. You can go finish that movie or book you just have not had the time to complete. It is up to you, as long as you are disconnecting from the stresses of your normal life.

5. Start with the Warm and Fuzzes

Each morning, it is a great idea to start your day by giving thanks. This self-care tip can be done while you are taking a shower or driving to work. You simply think about three things you are grateful for in your life.

“People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past blessings), the present (not taking good fortune for granted as it comes), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude)”[2].

And to inspire you a little bit, here’re 32 Things You Should Be Grateful For.

6. You and Superman

You know how Superman needs the sun to refuel? Well, you do too. Open a window or take your work outside, it does not matter. You are doing well as long as you have the sun shining down on you.

Unlike other essential vitamins, which are obtained through food, vitamin D is achieved through the skin’s exposure to the sun. In fact, at least 1,000 different genes that manage virtually every tissue in your body are regulated by vitamin D.[3]

7. It Is Okay to Say No

People pleasing tendencies are inside all of us. If you have ever gone along to get along, then you need to start saying no more. It is physically and emotionally draining to do something you do not want to do.

The good news is, you can say no. So what if someone does not like you!

The reality is doing something you do not want to do is only forcing people into your life that you would be better without. That is why it is critical for you to be your authentic self in all interactions. You will save plenty of time and money when you are honest and let people know how you feel.

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Learn to be the authentic you: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Connect with Your Inner Self

Mindfulness mediation is a powerful self-care tip for the busy person. You can accomplish mindfulness meditation in as little as a few minutes. All you need to do is focus on the present.

One of the easiest ways to practice mindfulness meditation is to focus on one of your five senses. Your senses are always in the present, so focusing on them will help you to be mindful of what is going on in the here and now.

The benefits of mindfulness mediation are numerous. It can help you to increase your ability to regulate emotions, as well as manage your stress and anxiety.

If you want to start to meditate, try this: Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

9. Spend Time Catering to Yourself

Do one nice thing for yourself every day. It can be as grand or modest as you decide. You can try one of these 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit.

By taking the time to treat yourself to something nice, you are teaching yourself that you are worth it.

It is important for you to have a positive self-image of yourself. By adding this self-care tip, you will increase your confidence and boost your overall self-esteem.

10. Let Go of the Past

You got to stop holding on to old stuff. Whether you hurt someone or someone hurt you, you need to forgive and move on. The past cannot be changed, nor does it guarantee your future. You have the ability to make decisions that will positively alter your life every day.

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I love the practice of writing an issue on a piece of paper and then destroying the paper as a symbolic way of telling yourself it is done.

And there’re more things you can try to learn to let go: 7 Ways To Let Go Of The Past And Live A Happy Life

11. Be a Caregiver

Helping others is a great way to improve your well-being. You can help a coworker, grow a plant in your yard, or even get a pet. By taking the time to help others, when they succeed, you feel rejuvenated yourself.

This can be as small as holding the door for someone or you could have a plant that you only need to water once a week.

12. Use Your Funny Bone

All you need to do is laugh. Even if you do not find anything particularly funny, laugh anyways. Laughing can improve your mood and it is also shown that people who laugh live longer. Even though it may feel unnatural to laugh when you do not find anything funny, your fake laugh will turn into a real laugh.

13. Paint Your Canvas

It is important to make sure you have the proper mindset on a daily basis. You have probably heard of some of the benefits of having a vision board. If you have not already done so, I encourage you to take some time to create a vision board.

However, I know how busy you are, so here is the next best thing:

Decorate your office with pictures of your friends and family. If you do not like your friends and family on this particular day, decorate your desk with pictures of your favorite places. These images are going to be a positive reminder of the things you enjoy in life.

Final Thoughts

You do not need to add all 13 self-care tips into your life. However, you can start by adding one and then working your way. Ideally, you will have a self-care plan that includes tips that address your physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being.

Remember, you do not “have” time, you “make” time. So choose to prioritize yourself and set yourself up for long-term success.

More Self-Care Tips

Featured photo credit: Trent Szmolnik via unsplash.com

Reference

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Published on May 13, 2021

How Physical Inactivity Affects Your Energy Levels

How Physical Inactivity Affects Your Energy Levels

We’ve all heard people say, “I’m too tired to exercise.” Perhaps, we also say this excuse ourselves when others ask why we don’t consistently engage in physical activities. According to The Heart Foundation, this is the number one reason given for physical inactivity.[1]

This is a paradox because we need the energy to exercise and yet, one major effect of physical inactivity is having depleted energy levels, which makes it extremely difficult to get moving in the first place. Oxygen is a key energy-producing fuel source, and lack of exercise limits oxygen supply to our brains and bodies, creating an energy slump.

So, how does physical inactivity affects our energy levels?

Low energy levels do more than just leave us feeling sluggish and unmotivated. The effects of physical inactivity set off a domino effect that topples our ability to focus, make smart decisions, manage our mood, build resilience against stress, and perform at our highest capacity—basically, all the fundamental pillars of maintaining optimal energy levels.

Left unchecked, this can lead to discontent in our own lives and create a ripple that impacts everyone around us.

There’s good news, though. You don’t have to suffer through hours at the gym, force yourself out of bed for a crack-of-dawn jog, or endure other such unpleasantries to shift this dynamic for yourself.

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Here are some of the ways the effects of physical inactivity play out in various areas of our lives and also some simple, painless activities to try that will enhance your energy levels.

1. The Relational Element

Do you ever feel drained of energy when you’re caught up in an argument with your partner or when your kid is having a meltdown? It’s like someone pulled the plug and every last drop of your life force is flushed down the tubes.

It turns out that a lack of physical activity could be a factor in this phenomenon. One study found that when people exercise, it creates a cascade of positive interactions with friends and family on the day of—as well as the day following—the activity.[2]

Better Together

These benefits are increased when we exercise with our loved ones. Next time you sense an impending family feud, take a timeout for some physical activity together. I remember many occasions when my own kids were toddlers, ditching our plans in a moment of frustration to go outside together quickly moved the day’s trajectory onto a more positive track, even if it was for just a few minutes. This still rings true today in their teen and preteen years. Though persuading them to change gears can require a bit more patience these days, it’s always well worth it!

Play a game of basketball or tennis. Bike around the block. Trek through your nearest trail or green space. Go critter spotting at a local park or in your own backyard. Not only can this tactic help diffuse a situation before it becomes volatile, but if you make it a habit, you’re also likely to notice an overall reduction in these energy-draining moments.

2. The Mental/Emotional Element

An estimated 40 million adults suffer anxiety disorders in the US alone.[3] When we are triggered by a threat, whether real or perceived, our brains pump out hormones to help us cope in what’s known as the “fight – flight – freeze” response. The aftermath can feel like a massive depletion of our energy.

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Sleep is an excellent method for recovering, but continuous anxious thoughts often make this difficult. Physical inactivity compounds this because it means we’re losing out on one of the most effective natural methods for regulating our sleeping patterns. Exercise also promotes mental clarity by effectively wiping our minds and bodies of the excess stress hormones instigated by anxiety.

Natural Regulators

It’s not only anxiety disorders that bungle our energy levels. Everyday stresses and mood fluctuations can make us feel like we’re stuck on an exhausting rollercoaster of emotion.

Physical inactivity contributes to the depletion of serotonin and dopamine—chemicals that help naturally regulate our mood and energy. Physical activity boosts these chemicals which enhances activity in the prefrontal cortex (the part of our brains responsible for higher-ordered thinking).[4] This process calms the limbic brain (our emotional headquarters), automatically shutting down energy-wasting emotional triggers.

3. The Intuitive/Spiritual Element

Exercise helps us grow our mind-body awareness while we learn to move out of our logical thought processes. The more we tune into our bodies and what they are telling us, the better we can tap into our inner knowing. We can stop using up our energy chasing after solutions or validation that comes from outside ourselves.

Our connectivity to the Universe or a higher power can be a catalyst for improving our energy levels as well. There are several approaches to enhance this through physical activity. Yoga and Tai Chi, for instance, are well-known spiritual practices used for centuries to connect mind, body, and spirit. From a Western perspective, they also help to create harmony between our needs for “achievement” energy and “restful” energy. Too much focus on either end of the spectrum can lead to burnout or depression.

A Powerful Combination

Meditation is another spiritual custom that is also a proven energy booster.[5] Unfortunately, sitting still and calming our minds can be a struggle, especially for people with anxiety issues.

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“Walking meditation” is one ritual that makes this easier while providing the powerful energy-boosting combination of both physical activity and intentional reflection. The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley describes this as a “basic method for cultivating mindfulness . . ., which involves focusing closely on the physical experience of walking, paying attention to the specific components of each step.”[6]

Hiking in nature also counteracts physical inactivity while helping us reconnect with our spirituality by calling our attention to the wonders of the world beyond ourselves. Awe-inspiring experiences contribute to positive changes in mood, attitude, and behavior. This enhances our energy levels by freeing up our mental space from overthinking and negativity. We can trust in our own inner knowing and lean into the belief that the Universe always has our backs.

4. The Self-Mastery Element

How energetic do you feel when your inner critic is saying you’re “too weak,” “too old,” or “too broken” to achieve your greatest goals and live your full purpose in life? It drags you down, right?

When our brains believe these negative thoughts, it exhausts our energy levels, but fortunately, there is a simple method for counteracting these lies.

You guessed it—exercise.

Physical accomplishments change our self-perception and boost our feelings of empowerment and self-worth. The agility and flexibility gains we achieve through repetitive practice of HIIT (high-intensity interval training), martial arts, or metabolic conditioning sessions, for example, create neural patterns in our brains. This carries over and rewires our mind-body for grit, strength, coordination, and resilience in all areas of our lives. What could feel more energizing than knowing you are powerful and capable of overcoming any challenge that comes your way?

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Express Yourself

Our energy levels can also be improved through self-expressive activities (e.g., dance) by helping us unpack a mess of emotions that may be bogging us down. Reaping the rewards of physical activity doesn’t require us to be focused on appearance or weight. Just find something you enjoy and that makes you feel good to move your body, whether it’s a salsa class or a favorite sport, Pilates or Zumba, or just a stroll through the neighborhood.

We don’t have to jump in with the go-getter approach we tend to take with most endeavors either. We don’t even need to be what we would consider athletic, artistic, or dramatic. All that’s required is to take one step forward with a focus on personal progress. Remove the expectations, self-judgment, and comparisons, and watch yourself bloom.

5. Energy Beyond Exercise

Globally, one in four adults does not meet recommended levels of physical activity, according to WHO.[7] While it is important to understand the ramifications that inadequate exercise can have on our health and longevity, this is just one part of the equation. There is far more at stake here.

Modern living enables us to achieve most of our daily needs with the least amount of physical effort possible. Not only do we not exercise enough, but we also rarely move our bodies at all—except from couch to fridge or from the doorstep to the car.

Physical inactivity robs us of powerful elements that enrich our lives—deeper connections with ourselves, our loved ones, our inner peace, and the vastness of the Universe around us. Our ability to feel fulfilled and successful in life hinges on the link between movement and vitality. Simply put, physical inactivity dwindles our energy at every level.

Here is a breakdown to help you fit it into your schedule with ease: On each of 5 days per week, do 15 minutes of vigorous exercise (HIIT, jogging, metabolic conditioning, or fast swimming or biking) or 30 minutes of moderate exercise (brisk walking, dancing, hiking, tennis, or water aerobics). And remember, any form of movement is better than none.

More About the Importance of Physical Activity

Featured photo credit: Adrian Swancar via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Heart Foundation: The Top 10 Excuses for Not Exercising
[2] Science Direct: The cascade of positive events: Does exercise on a given day increase the frequency of additional positive events?
[3] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Facts and Statistics
[4] American Psychological Association: Working out boosts brain health
[5] NCBI: Meditation: Process and Effects
[6] Greater Good Science Center: Walking Meditation Practice
[7] World Health Organization: Physical activity fact sheet

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