Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take
between two deep breaths. – Etty Hillesum
We all have busy lives, and there are days when it feels like we’ll never get everything done. For most people, the first thing to fall by the wayside during busy times is time for yourself. I’ve never met a cat who says”I’m too busy to take a moment to stretch in the sun.” Why can’t we be more cat like when it comes to taking care of ourselves?
The following ten tips can help you carve out some time for yourself even when the world is screaming for your attentionime. I offer this thought to you: you can’t afford not to take the time. Your sanity, and your health, may depend on it.
- Say no to anything that’s not important. I’ve always liked Steven Covey’s system of sorting items on your to do list into urgent, important, not urgent, and not important categories. Surprisingly, it’s the items in the “important but not urgent” quadrant, not the things that are “urgent and important,” that should receive your greatest attention. For example, daily playtime with your cats is important but not urgent. Feeding your cats, however, is important and urgent! For a more detailed (and less cat-centric) explanation of Covey’s important/urgent matrix, visit Practice This or go straight to the source and read Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
- Ask for help. Frequently, people who are constantly busy are actually admired by others, because they appear to be so efficient and get so much done. Our society does seem to value busyness, and some people seem to consider it a badge of honor – a very warped view, in my opinion. Admit that you can’t do it all by yourself. You may be surprised at the response you get. Most people love to help others.
- Meditate. Even a five minute mini meditation at the beginning of your day can set the tone for a less stressful day. Better yet, take a few mini-meditation breaks during the day.
- Write things down. When you’re busy, your mind is usually working overtime. Writing things down anchors them somewhere other than in your mind, which will help you remain calmer.
- Set limits for yourself and stick with them. Allot times to specific tasks, and stop after your allotted time is up. There are so many things in life that will never be completely “done.” Celebrate your progress, and don’t beat yourself up over what isn’t finished yet.
- Reward yourself. Give yourself small rewards for tasks you’ve accomplished. Whether it’s a piece of chocolate (just don’t go overboard with this), or a walk around the block, even small rewards can serve as small motivators.
- Unplug. Cut back on your online activities (just don’t cut back on reading this blog!). Turn off your cell phone, even just for a few hours.
- Make time for exercise. Even though exercise probably seems like just one more item on your overflowing to do list, this is one activity you want to make a priority.
- Breathe! Take deep, cleansing breaths whenever you feel yourself getting overwhelmed.
- Spend time with your cats, and learn from them. Just being in their presence will remind you that the things that really matter in life are right there in front of you, curled up on that cozy pillow, or sleeping in that sun puddle on the floor.
Do you have any tips for making time for yourself even when life is stressful? Share them in a comment.