Ah, the hectic, crazy, filled with emails work week. If your week is anything like mine, it's only Monday and you're already tired! Unfortunately, during a busy week, our own needs are usually the first thing to get neglected, but that really just compounds stress and problems later on. If you are in the middle of a busy week, I encourage you to take some time to address your own concerns; doing so will pay off in big ways, and you'll notice improvements in your happiness and peace of mind. Here are the things I strive to stay on top of, even when the going gets tough:
Stress eating is a huge problem people face. When you're exhausted or tired, fast food may seem like the easy solution; it's not. On the whole, fast food doesn't give your body energy and nutrients it most needs. If you have no groceries, find one hour after work to get this task done. Plan healthy and easy dinners. In a pinch, we eat baked potatoes and salad, pasta, split a Central Market pizza (better than ordering), eat leftovers previously prepared, or dedicate 30 minutes to an hour to whip up something healthy. There are so many cookbooks dedicated to fast recipes...and even a few ideas under the L&Z in the kitchen tab on this blog. Even if you don't prepare health food, whatever you make at home is probably better than picking up fast food. When it comes to snacking, ask yourself if you're really hungry. To test if I am going to snack, I ask myself if I would eat a fruit or veggie in that moment. If the answer is no, I'm not really hungry, I'm just looking to eat for no real reason. If the answer is yes, I make myself a health conscious snack (or, I let myself have only three Girl Scout cookies, everything in moderation!)
If it's a busy week, you probably don't have time to do a full hour at the gym three times, but assess what you do have time for, and then do that. A 30 minute jog around the neighborhood? A workout video online? A class? Chances are, you can make time somewhere in the day, even if you only do so twice a week. Exercising has a true pay off: it is an incredible way to manage stress, and you will feel so much better for having gone.
Make An Away From Email Rule
I'm an 8-5 Monday--Friday, excluding school holidays kind of email checker. While I usually check in on the weekend at some point, I do set a boundary with my students that I am in no way obligated to. During the work week, I do a 5pm check. If it isn't in my inbox at 5pm, I won't be answering it until 8 the next morning. Depending on your job, this same boundary may not work for you, but it's important to step away from work email and give yourself time to do the things you want to do.
Use your time to yourself actively rather than passively. Scrolling Facebook doesn't make me feel relaxed at all. I'd rather spend my time on something like a bath, reading for fun, watching a show on Netflix, or spending time with Brendan or friends. When you do things that are actually important to you, it feels like a break, whereas if you do something mindless, you'll look up and wonder where the time has gone without feeling like you had a real break.
Your Health=Your Wealth
I realized, with horror, that I let a whole year go by without going to the dentist. I have dental insurance, so this was really silly, but the reason I did it was that I never made time to take care of making these appointments. Last week, I visited the dentist (and everything is fine), and I vowed I would be back in September for my 6-month check up. And guess who is going to the dentist tomorrow? Brendan. :) Also tomorrow, I will be establishing care with my new doctor and getting a massage for a pain in my shoulder. I can't say enough about this: no amount of money can compensate for your health not being attended to and something preventable becoming a big problem for you. Go get a yearly physical, go to the dentist twice a year, and take care of problems when they arise. You will be glad that you did.
Sleep, It Isn't Optional
I can make it on 6 hours of sleep, but I do much better on 7-8 or more when I can get it. Calculate how much sleep you need, make yourself a bedtime, and stick to it. Obviously, this is more difficult if you have small children, but whatever you have going on in your life, prioritizing sleep will help your body and mind become much more efficient at combating stress.
This Too Shall Pass
When life gets too busy, I always remind myself that the stress is only temporary. At some point, things will return to "normal." At this point, I think that will be May 9th, so I have to learn to not let stress dominate my life and thinking.
If Stress Starts to Take Over...
Talk to a therapist (this goes along with the section on health). Feelings of being overwhelmed can easily spiral into depression if left unaddressed (trust me, I've been there), so it's important to go talk to someone now rather than later. Most health insurance policies cover therapy, so check out your plan and make an appointment if you need to.
Hope these tips help you think about the importance of taking care of you! And guess what? Monday's over. Time for my 5pm email check!
Here's to that,