If you’re anything like me, you might find it easy to get so busy and overwhelmed with life that you stop making it a priority to take care of yourself. Why do we women do such an incredible job of caring for the needs of everyone else around us, but then cease to make our own health and wellness a priority?
While I am not one to promote a self-focused preoccupation on perfect health and balance, I do believe that we are better moms, wives, daughters, friends, employees or business owners, etc. when we consciously make choices to care for our bodies, minds, and spirits.
Good health is a delicate balance. It doesn’t come just from popping a (vitamin) pill, or eating some “super foods.” It’s more than simply using organic ingredients on our skin, and avoiding nasty chemical sprays when we clean our showers.
Our complex bodies require a host of other things for optimal function… sleep, rest, manageable stress levels, adequate physical activity and fresh air, time spent in prayer and meditation. A body needs more than nutrients alone in order to thrive.
Small Steps to Feeling Better This Year
I’ve never had much success with New Year’s resolutions. I tend to dream big, overwhelm myself with too many things all at once, and my resolutions end up out the window.
Instead, I’m making a general goal of pursuing wellness this year as I come out of a season of burnout, through a lot of small and achievable goals. As I share my own goals, consider if there are any that resonate with you and might be areas in which you also need to consider setting some goals.
My Personal Health Goals for 2011
Photo by SashaW
After a year of burning the candle at both ends and wearing out my body, I’m ready to admit that what my body needs is regular, solid sleep. I’m aiming to be in bed by 10:00 or 10:30 at the very latest each night, regardless of what’s left on my “to-do” list. I’m starting out by waking at 7am regularly as I recover physically, then pushing that back to 6:30, and then ultimately to 6am.
My priority, though, is consistent night time rest of 7-8 hours every. single. night. A rested mama is a happy mama.
Stress & Busyness
To say no more often to tasks and busyness. To say yes more often to relationships, enjoyment, family and things that bring me life.
I had to take a good, hard look at my schedule, recognize that I was attempting to do more things that I had hours in the day for, and mercilessly hack away at the things that needed to go, until I was again was left with space to breathe and for “real life” to happen.
Photo by ErinnnK
Running at full speed all day is hard on a body. To keep up our efficiency and stamina, we need to allow ourselves breaks and times of rest.
For me, this means making my couch my friend. If I feel like I need a short break from my household and homeschooling duties, I’m deciding to actually allow myself (and my Type-A personality) to take it. If the children are occupied, I might read or even close my eyes for a few moments. If they want to be with me, we can snuggle and read a book together.
Other opportunities for rest might include taking off my dish gloves and walking outside for 5 minutes to admire a sunset and breathe the crisp air deeply, or simply sit with my husband chatting at the end of a long day, hot mug of tea in hand. A ten-minute call with a girlfriend. Twenty minutes to work on a creative project while the little ones nap. The possibilities are endless, but the point is to stop and just be.
Much as it can be difficult to motivate myself to do it sometimes, I feel far better overall when I am physically active, no matter what shape that activity takes. Increased blood circulation, less tense muscles, feel-good brain chemicals, more energy and a body that is ready for a restful sleep at night– all good reasons that I’m making it a priority to fit it in at least a couple times each week.
I don’t think that being more physically active necessarily has to mean going to the gym every day, or pulling out an hour long workout video every second day. There are many ways to fit exercise into our lives naturally and without devoting hours to it each week. It can even come in the form of taking a walk with our children, getting out in the garden, doing vigorous house cleaning (it counts in my books!), or putting on music and dancing around your living room.
Photo by funkz
We can all benefit from some extra sunshine in our lives. The fresh air is also invigorating and cleansing, and gets us breathing more deeply.
For me, getting outside is calming and it helps to ground me. It puts the frustrations of my day in perspective. It slows me down. It refreshes and inspires me. A simple goal of even five minutes a day (in winter; more in summer) is my starting point.
As a Christian, time set aside each day to read my Bible, bring my cares before the Lord, and sit quietly before Him is crucial for my spiritual health.
I’m re-implementing my morning times, before my children get out of their rooms, where I meet with God to begin my day. Whatever your own routine or preferences look like, we all benefit from these moments. Do you need to make it a part of your regular routine again, too?
Which areas of a healthy lifestyle do you most struggle with? What small steps are you taking this year for more balanced health?