"Finding and Making Time for Self-Care" is one of my most popular workshops because most of us want to take better care of ourselves but feel like we just don't have time. Here are some of the strategies I use to make time for self-care.
Values and Time Exercise
Spend some time thinking about your top values. I made a very long list and then realized I could put them into categories and get them down to four overarching values. Mine are financial stability, prioritizing family and friends, health and vitality, and lifelong learning. Next, draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper to make two columns and on the left, write your values and on the right jot down all of the ways you spend your time. The first time I did this exercise I made some very difficult decisions around the ways that I was spending my time that didn't line up. I closed a side business, I resigned from a nonprofit board, and I stopped spending time with people who constantly drained my energy. I re-visit this exercise once a year or if I feel like my schedule is getting away from me.
Identify Time Thieves
I think we are all guilty of picking up our phones when we are bored or have a moment between responsibilities. Pull out your phone and check and see how much time you spend on it every day. When I did this, I was shocked. I couldn't believe that it could be true. I looked into the data a bit more and decided not to count time I was reading on my Kindle app or time I was listening to Spotify. Even if you take those things into account, I still spent 2 hours a day doing nothing. I started to think about times I reach for my phone without thinking. Turns out, if I drink a glass of water and stretch or do yoga for 30 minutes before I pick up my phone, I am much more productive the rest of the day and I haven't missed a thing on social media.
Choose Quality over Quantity
When you go to bed tonight, think about how often today you focused on something for 10 minutes without distractions. Ten minutes of walking outside and looking at the flowers that are blooming or ten minutes of playing catch with your child are restorative in ways that scrolling through your phone will never be. When I worked in child psychiatry, my supervisor used to say that there weren't many things in life that a walk in the sunshine and an extra glass of water won't help. Decide on just one thing you can do for 10 minutes starting today. Get up after reading this blog and walk outside. Call your best friend to say hello. Stretch some of the tension out of your shoulders. A small change can ripple throughout your life and have a big impact. For a bonus idea, start thinking about things you enjoy so much that you lose time. This is called a flow state and it is great for our emotional and physical well-being. I can achieve a flow state at work when I am researching and creating classes or presentations. I just love taking a huge chunk of data and making it bite-size and accessible. I also can achieve it when I am collecting seashells on the beach!
Today I am going to walk outside and notice the beautiful landscaping on SAS Headquarters Campus. I think I will do it right now. What about you?