Outside of your immediate family there is extended family to think about. Making sure mom and dad are healthy and have talked to the grandchildren, remembering your sister's birthday (and making sure a birthday card gets to her sometime within the next six months), helping a family member through a rough day, and the list goes on. All this not to mention the responsibilities we have to make sure our friends know we are still alive, create (buy) something for the bake sake next week, help out with that church event on Sunday (what is it again?), and oh-my-gosh I was supposed to be carpool mom today! It can be exhausting.
How, in the midst of this, do we even have time to think about taking care of ourselves? Thankfully, there are small things we can do that make a big difference in our attitudes and ability to get so much done. So, for those days when you need an extra shot of caffeine, an extra hour of sleep, or a year-long vacation...here are a few ways to "take care of yourself".
1. Breathe. Studies show that learning and using breathing techniques can not only help you feel a little more calm, but can also help physically combat the production of stress hormones. Try this: sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Put one hand on your belly and another on your chest. Take a deeeep breath in through your nose, hold, breathe out slowly through your mouth. Do this between 3 and 10 times and see how you feel. (Extra time? Do breathing exercises while you take a quiet walk.)
2. Touch. Let's face it, most of us don't have the time or money to go get a professional massage
when we are feeling stressed. But we can help ourselves feel a little bit of refreshment with five minutes of pampering. Go in the bathroom and shut the door. Turn the faucet on warm, lather your hands in soap. Close your eyes and massage each soapy hand and wrist for 30 seconds. Rinse off your hands, dry with a soft towel, and if you have lotion available spend another 30 seconds lotioning up each hand. Take a deep breath, and you are prepared to take on the world once more! (Extra time? Include your feet in the fun...and if you're feeling really frisky maybe even paint them!)
3. Taste. Mmm...that first sip of your favorite beverage. Except, oh wait, you had to chug it down so you could get back to that thing you were doing. Now it's gone and you have no recollection of drinking it. Sound familiar? Try this: when you have a minute of solitude (or at least when you don't have 7 people asking you for 14 different things to be done) take a minute and focus on sipping your beverage of choice. Notice the taste of it on your tongue, the feel of the cup in your hands, the sensation of your mouth starting to water and the way your sip slides down your throat when you swallow. Ah, bliss. (Extra time? Put your beverage in a fun glass...like tea in a teacup or a soda in a tall glass with ice and a staw, and sit outside while you drink it and drink in your surroundings.)
4. Move. Do you have time for a quick walk? It is one of the surest ways to help get us back in thegame. It boosts adrenaline so it can give your lagging body energy, and can help improve attention span by 20 percent! It also produces endorphines which fight stress hormones. If you don't have time for a quick walk (or didn't get outside before temperatures hit 100 degrees) don't worry! Try stretching instead. (Extra time? Go for a hike...not only are you moving but you are out in nature where you can breathe in smells of trees and fresh air instead of car exhaust and cleaning products).
5. Be Thankful. When we focus on what we are thankful for, it makes it harder for us to dwell on things we are grumpy or upset about. I'm not advocating we stick our head in the sand, but when we can't change a situation in the moment (like our toddler throwing a class-A temper tantrum in the middle of the grocery store) it helps to refocus our minds on the positives (like the fact that the aformentioned toddler has a healthy set of lungs and is able to express herself...just not effectively yet). When life feels overwhelming, start ticking off the many things you are greatful for. (Extra time? Get your kids in on the action...start a "thankfulness list" and post it on the refrigerator. Add to it as blessings come to mind.)
Information gathered from webmd.com, .helpguide.org, npr.org, and huffingtonpost.com.