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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
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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.

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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 July 15, 2021

Shift Work Disorder: 17 Ways to Manage it Better

Shift Work Disorder: 17 Ways to Manage it Better
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Are you having trouble sleeping? Or do you feel like you can barely stay awake when you need to? Are you left tired and irritable, lacking the joy and motivation that life once brought? If these complaints are tied to your long or rotating work schedule, you may be suffering from shift work disorder—a common ailment among professions with schedules outside the typical 9 am to 6 pm range.[1]

Why does it matter? Let’s be honest—being tired stinks. It feels terrible and leaves you vulnerable to many health risks that well-rested people aren’t as susceptible to. Not only that, but it can also wreak havoc on your relationships and quality of life.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to help manage this, and you can start trying them out today! Some of the solutions may not be what you expect. For instance, you might have linked improved sleep to exercise, but did you know that being compassionate with yourself can also have an impact?

Who Are Affected by Shift Work Disorder?

Twenty-five million people are shift workers in the country, so you are far from alone if you are struggling with this. Shift work disorder is a condition frequently affecting anyone who works a job where their schedule is outside standard business hours. Nurses, police officers, firefighters, and factory workers are common examples of professions with schedules that rotate around the clock.

Rotating shifts naturally leads to a change in one’s schedule, including sleep. As your sleep schedule becomes more chaotic, your body is unable to adjust and regulate itself and can result in having difficulty falling or staying asleep. This inevitably leads to less sleep, which is where some big problems can arise.

What Are the Symptoms?

Sleep is one of the most important (and underrated) aspects of our lives. Enough sleep and good quality sleep are critical to our emotional, mental, and physical health.

Insufficient sleep can lead to a significantly increased risk of physical health problems, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and gastrointestinal disorders. Mentally, being tired contributes to having scattered concentration, difficulty processing information, and being more likely to make mistakes or have an accident. Emotionally, the fallout of being chronically exhausted is linked to poor emotional regulation including being irritated more quickly, as well as an increased likelihood of developing anxiety and depression.[2]

Any of this sound familiar? If so, keep reading for some scientifically-based tips to help you manage your sleep better and get your life back.

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17 Ways to Manage Shift Work Disorder Better

Quality sleep, or the lack thereof, impacts us physically, mentally, and emotionally. The most impactful plan of attack against shift work disorder and to regain quality sleep must also reflect that.

I suggest reading through all of the tips and formulating a plan based on what you think will work for you. Start by trying out one thing and build from there as you are able. Remember to construct a plan that addresses your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Let’s start in the most obvious place first:

Your Job

1. Make Your Schedule the Best It Can Be

Randomly rotating shifts has been found to have the worst impact on our health.[3] If you have to rotate your schedule, request to rotate shifts in a clockwise fashion.

For example: work the day shift, rotate to the nights, then to the early morning shift, then start back on the day shift. Sounds silly? It’s not. Studies show that our bodies more easily adjust to changes in schedule when completed in a clockwise manner.[4] This is because of something called our circadian rhythm—24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock that carry out essential functions. The most commonly known of these is sleep. It has been discovered that our circadian rhythm adjusts forward more easily than it does backward.

2. Speak to Your Manager About Keeping Your Workplace Bright

Special lights have been designed to assist with circadian rhythm. It turns out that absorbing bright light that is most similar to sunlight can positively impact regulating our circadian rhythm.[5]

3. Avoid a Long Commute to and From Work

Having a long drive home after working a rotating shift is statistically not in your best interest. It’s been shown that fatigued/sleepy employees are 70% more likely to have a workplace accident and 33% more likely to be involved in a traffic accident.[6]

To avoid putting yourself at risk by driving when you’re not at your best, catch a nap before leaving work, pull over to sleep, or stay at a friend’s house nearby.

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4. Speak to Your Manager About Your Concerns

Many companies that operate around the clock are willing and able to make accommodations to those working alternative shifts. Whether it’s helping you find a schedule that works best for you or connecting you with other programs designed to support your well-being, being in good communication with your employer is to everyone’s benefit.

Sleep Attitudes and Environment

5. Change Your Perspective and Start Prioritizing Sleep

Here’s the deal: despite some pretty well-known dangerous effects of not getting enough sleep, somewhere along the line, our society began to think of sleep as a luxury. Some even consider it a badge of honor to “power through” without much (or any) sleep. People have been made to feel embarrassed or lazy if they get the recommended amount of sleep each night.

Here’s the bottom line: sleep is not a luxury.

Let me repeat that—sleep is not a luxury, and getting a consistent and healthy amount does not make you a slacker. Sleep is actually when our body does a lot of repair work on itself—blood vessels, muscles, and other organs. Sleep also boosts our immunity.

If we could help people feel as proud about sleeping as we do about them working out regularly or sticking to a healthy diet, people might be a lot healthier.

6. Make Your Sleep Space as Conducive to Rest as Possible

This means tweaking your environment so it’s as enticing as possible for your body to go to sleep. Keep the room dark using blackout blinds, reduce the temperature (our body rests best when slightly cool), limit interruptions (phone calls, visitors, noise), and remove electronic devices.[7]

Set yourself up for success by supporting yourself through your surroundings. If you wanted to lose weight, you wouldn’t frequently surround yourself with cookies, cake, and ice cream, right? Same idea here.

Personal Habits and Choices

7. Stick to a Regular Sleep Schedule as Closely as Possible—on Workdays and Days Off

This is obviously difficult when your schedule changes on the regular, but the more consistent you can keep your bedtime, the easier time your body has getting to sleep and staying that way.[8]

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8. Allow Yourself Time to Catch Up on Sleep

Having enough days off to rest and recuperate is an important aspect of protecting your health. You wouldn’t expect to be able to drive across the country on one tank of gas, right? Filling your own personal gas tank is just as important.

9. Take Naps, but Don’t Overdo It

It’s recommended by the Cleveland Clinic to take a 90-minute nap just before starting your shift and then a 30-minute nap during your “lunch break” at work.[9] Again, this is all about keeping some gas in your tank and not allowing yourself to get to the point where you are running on fumes. Short naps will help you stay refreshed and alert on the job.

10. Limit Caffeine to the Start of Your Shift

Most of us love a good hit of caffeine, especially when we are tired. But overdoing it or having caffeine too late in your shift can negatively impact your ability to get to sleep when you finally have the time to do so. Moderate your intake to help yourself get some quality sleep.

11. Avoid Alcohol Before Bed

Unwinding after work with a drink can be tempting. It can make you drowsy, which many people mistakenly believe will help them get better sleep. Unfortunately, alcohol will actually keep you awake (or wake you up later). This obviously impairs your ability to get the quality of sleep you are looking for.

12. Don’t Smoke

Much like alcohol, people turn to nicotine to “calm their nerves” or help them relax. Also, like alcohol, nicotine has been shown to disrupt sleep.[10] Cut back or cut this habit out as able.

13. Eat Well and Eat Smart

Choose convenient nutritious meals and snacks. Nutritious food is the foundation from which our body creates the needed chemicals for quality sleep. Foods high in saturated fat and sugar have been shown to have the worst impact on sleep.[11]

Also, timing is everything as they say. Eating too much or not enough before your shift can cause you to feel tired.

14. Get Regular Exercise

According to numerous studies, exercise can be as effective in treating sleep disorders as prescription medication.[12] Yes, you read that correctly—regular exercise is the bomb!

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This one can be tricky to convince people to do, especially if they are already tired and short on time. If you don’t have the time to hit the gym, take a brisk walk, dance around your living room to your favorite song, or mow your lawn. Despite feeling tired, getting up off the couch and moving around (moderate to vigorous exercise) is best for reducing the time it takes to get to sleep and improving the quality of sleep.

Mental and Emotional

15. Establish Consistent Practices That Help You Relax Before Bed

This can include yoga, deep breathing, a warm bath, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, meditation, and hypnosis. These are designed to reduce physical tension and quiet your mind from thoughts that are keeping you awake. There are lots of great apps and free videos that can help you with this.

16. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT as it’s known, works by helping you to identify thoughts and behaviors that make sleep worse and then developing new habits consisting of thoughts and behaviors that promote sleep. There are psychologists and life coaches who are specially certified in CBT that can help you with this.

17. Show Yourself Some Compassion

Sounds silly? Well, it’s not. A seven-year study conducted at the University of Mannheim concluded that the daily practice of self-compassion positively impacted people’s quality of sleep.[13]

The concept of showing ourselves compassion is foreign (and uncomfortable) to many of us. Try going easy on yourself for being grumpy, and give yourself some credit for the efforts you are making in tough circumstances. What would you say to your best friend if they were struggling with the same situation? I routinely ask my clients this question as it’s sometimes easier to be compassionate to others than ourselves. This tip might take some practice, but the effort could result in a better night’s sleep.

Final Thoughts

Okay, there you have it—17 different ways you can help yourself manage shift work disorder, feel more rested, more like yourself, and enjoy life again. To get started with your plan, pick out a few tips that you can implement today, but remember to choose a well-rounded approach—addressing the physical, mental and emotional.

Be patient with yourself. It takes time to build new habits. And show yourself some compassion and kindness—you might just be able to sleep better when you do.

Featured photo credit: Yuris Alhumaydy via unsplash.com

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