By Lara Dalch August 2, 2013
Okay. You’re busy. I get it. Between work, friends, family, and life, taking care of YOU is at the absolute bottom of your priority list. I hear it every day, from friends, family, potential clients, and even from myself on occasion.
But let me ask you this: How much time is it costing you NOT to take care of yourself?
- How many minutes have you spent staring blankly at your computer screen because your energy crashed?
- How many hours are you a zombie during the day because you were up until 2am surfing the web?
- How much time is lost dealing with doctors’ appointments because you get sick all the time and don’t know why?
Add it all up and tell me in the comments what you come up with. If you’re like most of my clients (before they work with me), it’s not a pretty number.
Here’s how to streamline your self-care so you can fit it in without bending over backwards:
1. If you do nothing else, make sleep a priority. It’s no coincidence that I made this number one. Sleep might be the single biggest missing piece to your health puzzle (and to your weight management puzzle, in fact). Being sleep deprived messes with our hunger and stress hormones, making us prone to binging on calorie-dense foods with lots of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and fat. The energy boost from these foods disappears quickly, leaving us depleted and more tired than before.
2. When you make food choices, think efficiency. Eating food that fuels you is your best defense against time wasters like low energy and frequent illness. Choosing foods that give you the most nutritional bang means you spend less time eating and more time doing. Nutrient-dense foods like whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, and beans give your body what it needs on less. Make it a priority to choose them first, whenever possible, instead of wasting time on options that leave you hungry an hour later and searching for more food.
3. Even if you’re slammed, get up for 10 minutes and take a walk around the block. Tune into your own personal “I need a break alarm” by noticing what happens in your body when you’ve hit a wall. Does your back ache? Do you stare at your computer screen for just a little too long (without actually doing any work)? Does your stomach feel a little funky? Once you identify your body’s “alarm,” start listening to it! Giving yourself these short little movement breaks when your body calls out for them is a quick way to avoid burnout and reduce stress.
4. Take 20 minutes a week to plan your meals. I know, I know: Who has time to plan? Two small things will make a huge difference in how well you eat and whether or not you move your body: (1) Using your calendar; and (2) Taking 20 minutes a week to plan your meals. Put workouts, meal planning time, and cooking time ON YOUR ACTUAL CALENDAR. It’s a game changer, I promise; and will most definitely save you time on the back end.
5. Use the 4-7-8 breathing technique. There’s nothing more healing than using a tool that you have with you at all times: your breath. A favorite of my clients, the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique (or “paced breathing”) is an amazing way to refresh your body and mind wherever you are. Here’s how it works: Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4. Hold the breath for a count of 7. Breathe out strongly through your mouth (like you’re blowing up a balloon) for a count of 8. Repeat that cycle 3 to 4 times. That’s it. It only takes a few minutes and will bring your stress level down, and your sense of well being up, almost instantly.
Do these five things and you’ll be the picture of health…in no time.