Self care is one of the key strategies in my six-step plan for conquering overwhelm and stress and is the simplest and most effective ways to PREVENT them taking hold in the first place.
Yet, for most of us, self-care is the first thing to go during the craziness of the holiday season. For women solo entrepreneurs like myself, we still have to take care of business as usual, on top of the added demands of the season – shopping, parties, baking, card-writing, decorating, and gift-wrapping to name but a few. And while many of these are fun things to do, it often feels like they are putting us over the edge in our already packed schedule and to-do list.
It’s no wonder that this time of year is notorious for bringing on high levels in stress.
In a recent workshop, one participant described overwhelm as taking stress to the next level. So if you’re already feeling stressed running home and business, the holidays can definitely take us into overwhelm.
In fact, you may feel you have so much to do, you don’t have time for self care right now.
I would argue, however, that you need it now more than ever to be able to cope better with all the extra demands on you. Looking after yourself first means you’ll be better able to make reasoned decisions about what you need and want to do to be effective, productive and happy this holiday season. You’ll have more energy and be more available for your loved ones AND your business.
So, what does self-care mean practically? Actually, it looks different for everyone, but there are definitely universal needs like getting enough sleep. Here are some of the things I do for myself in terms of self-care:
- Eat a healthy and nutritional diet as much as possible, allowing for treats, of course!
- Get enough sleep. Apparently the majority of adults don’t get enough. I find that if I don’t get seven to eight hours I don’t function well.
- Move! I walk or run outside virtually every day. The exercise and the fresh air both help clear my head. In fact walking is when I often get my best ideas. I also make a point to get up and move around every so often if I’m doing a lot of computer work.
- Take breaks! If I work non-stop without a break, I know I can’t think as clearly and I’m much more prone to mistakes.
- Practice mindfulness or being present in whatever activity I’m doing.
- Have a cup of tea – or a glass or wine – with a good friend.
- And my all time favorite, Constructive Rest!
Constructive Rest is a common Alexander Technique practice I recommend to my clients. It’s a way of taking a few minutes time out of your day to rest and restore yourself mentally and physically as you lie down in a semi supine position. In fact, I think so highly of this practice that a couple of years ago I created the 30-Day Constructive Rest Challenge, in which I encourage you to commit to doing it for a few minutes every day for 30 days. I will also be including it in my Overwhelm Prevention classes this month.
Constructive Rest provides a restorative break for body, mind, and spirit. It is a time for consciously practicing awareness, as well as for directing our thoughts constructively. However, simply lying down and relaxing in this supportive position is in itself extremely helpful, and is an effective way to improve your posture, release tension, and calm your nervous system. In fact it specifically helps prevent what I call the “Posture of Overwhelm,” and instead promotes an expansive, un-contracted state in which we start letting go of excess tension or collapse. We end up relaxing upwards and outwards! You can even think of Constructive Rest as a lying down version of a high power pose.
December is crazy busy for most of us. I urge you to make YOU a priority this season. By doing so you will have more energy, strength and resilience to get things done. It will not only help you be more productive, but will also give you time to be more discerning about what really matters and what does not.
So, whatever holiday you celebrate (or don’t!), I wish for you some time for yourself – to do the things that nourish you – and in turn you will lessen, or prevent, overwhelm and stress before they start.
How do you look after yourself? Is it a priority for you? Or do you neglect yourself when things get busy? What are your main challenges when it comes to self-care? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Interested in taking the 30-Day Constructive Rest Challenge?
Make a commitment to self-care and prioritize yourself this December.
“Time to Relax” image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.