“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.” ~Ajahn Chah
By Mirna Segal
It’s a common theme—jobs keep piling up, new problems arise, and deadlines are nearing. Taking time out for yourself to de-stress and rejuvenate is so far down the to-do list you don’t even consider it a possibility.
But the long-term effects of putting yourself last are real, especially because they take a while to show. They creep up slowly until one day you’ve burnt out.
When I was in this position, it didn’t end too well. The combination of dealing with long-term insomnia, hairdressing full-time, and studying led me to exhaustion.
I had adrenal fatigue and my body was so tired that everything hurt. My eyes were constantly stinging, head continuously throbbing, and my muscles were always sore from never getting the rest they needed.
I eventually quit hairdressing, because there’s only so long you can function as a zombie with sharp scissors in your hand, but I left to pursue my own business which brought with it even more work.
I had to find a way to recharge constantly throughout the day if I wanted to keep up with such an involved career.
You are your own most valuable asset, and no matter how important another task is, if you don’t dedicate some time to yourself, you’ll burn out. The harder you push, the harder you’ll fall.
I learned how to find time to dedicate to me while working, studying, and sleeping only two hours a night. I’ll show you how you can do it, too.
1. Let go of shoulds.
Let go of telling yourself you should do certain things. If it’s not a necessity, don’t overthink it.
Shoulds are guilt trips disguised as obligations, which add to extra stress and eat up time. Even if you don’t do anything else I mention in this post, let go of telling yourself you should do tasks you don’t need to do, or even want to do.
The ones I constantly struggle with are “I should get up earlier to get more work done, I should do yoga every day, I should spend less time on my phone.” Whenever I catch myself saying these, I smile and simply reword it: “I should do whatever makes me feel good right now. What is that?”
Sure, there are times when we need to push ourselves to make healthy choices. But if you’re too tired to go to the gym and it would make you feel good to take a walk through the park, that gets the job done too.
This one change in perspective will make you feel lighter and happier throughout the entire day.
2. Find a short, relaxing exercise routine.
Whether it’s stretching exercises, yoga, or a moving meditation, a short routine like this is ideal.
You address three things in one go: You give yourself fifteen minutes to yourself, you get your blood flowing to your head and around your body, and you relax and stretch out your tight muscles.
Rather than choosing a fifteen-minute power yoga session to “make it worthwhile,” find something that feels good that allows you to feel centered. Don’t worry about how many calories you’ll burn; this is purely for pleasure.
There are plenty of guided videos on YouTube, so you don’t even need to go to a class to reap the relaxing benefits.
3. Spoil yourself.
No matter how small it is, get out of the house and get something done that makes you feel good.
Haven’t brushed your hair properly in a month? Go to the salon and get a hair treatment. Shoulders are tired and achy? Get some acupuncture or a massage.
Even when the budget doesn’t allow for a indulging, remember that you are fully qualified and capable of looking after yourself!
Try soaking your feet in a tub of hot water with epsom salts while listening to a podcast, relaxing music, or an audiobook. You want this to be an enjoyable timeout so listen to your body and let it tell you what it wants.
4. Get away for a day.
You may genuinely not have time right now to leave for a day, but what about if you committed to going in three weeks’ time? Could you aim to get everything done before then or book the rest in for when you return?
Changing scenery and getting away from your usual routine will do wonders to your mind. Leave everything and decide that on this one specific day nothing else matters.
5. Set yourself a daily routine.
I first learned about efficient daily routines from a book called The Miracle Morning. In a nutshell, this routine consists of completing the six most efficient personal development practices, every single morning.
These include meditation, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading, and journaling.
I read The Miracle Morning when I had insomnia. Falling asleep before 3am was a “good night,” so the idea of getting up an hour early wasn’t even something I’d consider. But I knew there was something to it.
So instead of mornings, I would find time during the day to complete these, and not always all at once, either. Ten minutes of reading on my lunch break, ten minutes of exercise when I got home, ten minutes of journaling and visualizations before bed, and so on.
If I ever found myself sitting there doing nothing (or worse, mindlessly flicking through social media!) I would try to complete another one.
Though this wasn’t the “correct” way to do it, it introduced me to a world of self-love and forgiveness. I forgave my mind for not falling asleep when I needed it to, I forgave myself for the anger I felt when I was tired and cranky every morning, and I decided to give myself the love I deserved.
By doing these short practices throughout the day you prove to yourself you’re worth this time to serve you. And the best part is that it doesn’t require a big chunk of time to benefit.
“The moment you accept responsibility for EVERYTHING in your life is the moment you gain the power to change ANYTHING in your life.” ~Hal Elrod, The Miracle Morning
6. Find a hobby.
What is something you love to do? Something you’re yearning to do, but don’t?
Can you find a community group that does this on a regular basis? Imagine connecting with likeminded people while doing something you love.
When you reconnect with an activity you enjoy you’ll fall in love with how it makes you feel, which means you’ll make it a priority to do regularly.
Whether it’s an art class or salsa dancing, fulfill this desire you have and it’ll naturally lead to letting go of stress.
7. Leave criticisms and gossip; express gratitude instead.
We’ve all been there, even though we know it makes us feel terrible and accomplishes nothing.
Instead, talk about your latest achievements or something fabulous you noticed someone else doing. Tell your friend that you love what she’s been doing lately, and ask her what she’s learned from it.
Not only might you learn something new, but showing gratitude and appreciation is the quickest and easiest way to feel excited and alive.
Do you ever notice how you light up when you’re pumped about something? How you start talking three times faster and can’t even express in words how happy it makes you?
We could all benefit from raising each other up and celebrating accomplishments and it would lead to building strong, happy, and powerful relationships.
8. Find a song that makes you go places.
You know the ones that give you goose bumps and make you forget about the rest of the world for those few minutes? Keep those songs handy, whether they’re on your phone or saved in YouTube. Then when you need a break all it takes is to plug your earphones in and listen.
You don’t always need to do something to fix a problem; sometimes all it takes is to let go, surrender, and let your problems and stresses melt away.
Dedicating time to yourself is essential to de-stress and rejuvenate. And as you can see, these ways are achievable no matter how busy you are.
The aim is to do small, purposeful practices throughout the day to truly make your moments count. Which one will you start on first?