By Lia Miller
We’re just past a quarter of the way into 2016, and once again we are busy. Busy working, busy playing, busy dreaming, busy achieving—basically we’re busy being busy. Unfortunately, this isn’t unusual; in fact, it is the “American Way.”
Well I’m sorry but I just can’t do that, I have to call a flag on the play. I am at a point where I have never felt more tired, been more stressed and felt more nearer to the end of my rope than I do now. Something has got to give.
As a working mother of two young children and someone who is notorious for taking on too much (read: not being able to say, “no”), my wellness, health and overall wellbeing is being compromised. And it’s all (okay, not all but mostly) my fault. If you are like me, you have the tendency to do everything because you can. You might even take pride in the feeling of the accomplishment you get from ticking items off the to-do list.
So what am I to do? How can I turn things around? If you are at the burnout point like me, then it is time for a little introspection. It’s time to sit back, take stock and to realize that just because you can do everything doesn’t mean you should. Recognize there is always a trade-off. While you may be able to do a lot, you also need to consider what is being lost/sacrificed? I know it is gratifying to get things done and to “slay” at work, at home and in life. But if you are coming home completely spent, you’ve begun to give up doing things you used to love, including exercise, healthy eating, socializing with friends and loved ones, pursuing favorite hobbies, etc. You will eventually end up feeling bitter, resentful, tired, unfulfilled,and unhappy.
The way forward is to change our priorities. If we don’t value health and wellness over other pursuits, the things that matter to us most will begin to fall apart. Here are some ways I’ve discovered to reclaim my sanity, peace of mind and energy that don’t require me to make sacrifices in terms of time trade-offs:
Make Time For You
In order to make the shift, you have to commit to yourself first. I always say, “If you can’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else.” Make the commitment to yourself. Remember this isn’t a zero sum game, you can make gradual changes to your daily routine to start reintroducing into your life the essential “me time.” Your first step should be putting yourself at the top of the to-do list.
Exercise Anyway Possible
The key here is moderation; start by doing what is easy. I work on the fourth floor in my building, so I take the stairs whenever possible. I take the stairs coming off the metro, and I take the longest route to the cafeteria at lunch.
If I can’t make it to the gym, I find that by employing these methods, I often exceed the 10,000 step minimum for my FitBit daily goal. If you can, request a standing desk at your office instead of staying sedentary all day in a seated desk. With a standing desk, I am able to do leg lifts, calf raises, squats, and even lunges at my desk, and much more. I try to force myself to stand for at least 30 to 60 minutes in short 10 to 15 minute intervals (or longer if it is a good day) over the course of the day.
If this seems too much, start with what works for you. The trick is to get moving and to find less time-consuming ways to incorporate exercise into your day.
I know it seems counter intuitive, especially if you are counting calories, but don’t skip meals. Eat and keep eating. When we skip meals, we tend to crash and are 9 times out of 10 more likely to grab an unhealthy snack, such as soda, coffee, candy or doughnuts because they are fast and easy.
Eat frequently every few hours and be prepared , as in bringing in your own food and snacks, so that you have healthy options on-hand. This will also make you less likely to grab an unhealthy alternative.
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), and no surprise to anyone, sleep is essential for health and wellbeing. Yet millions of people do not sleep enough or suffer from lack of sleep. The truth is that everyone’s individual sleep needs vary. But the NSF says the optimal amount of sleep for adults is 7 to 9 hours. Initially, 7 to 9 hours seemed impossible to me between work, life work, restless kids and the running to-do list in my head that seems to require immediate attention in the 2 to 4 a.m. window. But once I gave myself a hard lights out time and stuck to it, I immediately began to feel better and became more productive and efficient at work.
If you live a stressful, busy, at times drama-filled and constantly on-the-go life, then following these steps will help diminish those stresses by improving your physical, mental and emotional health, thus making you a priority again.
Lia Miller, known to the blogging world as Lia World Traveler, is the quintessential every-woman, a loving wife and mother, daughter, sister, friend, author/singer/song-writer, movie and book buff, DIY loc’d naturalista, food lover, sports and fitness enthusiast, news junkie, traveling fool, diplomat, diversity/social inclusion advocate and life-time learner. She shares her adventures and insights with you at Life As I See It.