I get it, we’re all busy.
While I would love to have a less-full calendar, and I love the idea that we stop glorifying busy, it also doesn’t mean things can slow down for some of us right now. (I’m ten weeks into the school year at this point and still trying to get new routines and rhythms established right now–it is the most hectic time of year for me and you too, if you have school-aged kids.)
Maybe you’ve got small kids at home that demand all of your time. Or work is stressful and you’ve got to have a job so there’s no way around it. Or maybe your extended family is in an upheaval right now and you’re being pulled a million different ways.
It seems there is always something that requires our attention, our time, and our limited resources.
So how do we find rest and rejuvenate in the midst of a chaotic season? How do we still take care of ourselves when we’re taking care of others and a never-ending to-do list?
That’s a really good question. A really good question I don’t know how to answer completely because it’s different for everyone. So while all these ideas might not work for you, I pray that a couple of them can be incorporated into your life so that you can rest–even momentarily–and be re-energized enough to tackle your day (or just the next hour…). Because we all know that we can’t take care of others well if we’re not taking care of ourselves well first.
Sacred drive time
You know the only silence I get in my day? The fifteen minutes I drive from home to work and then from work to home. I refuse to talk on the phone during these times, I don’t try to multitask or catch up with friends. This is my time to prepare for the day, or to unwind from a stressful day of work so I don’t take it out on my family when I get home. Find your non-negotiable sacred quiet time and then guard it with your life. I look forward to those few minutes where no one needs anything from me and it helps me be more attentive when it’s time to serve others again.
Know when to say ‘no’
You can’t do it all. You know that and so does everyone else. So stop saying ‘yes’ to every offer or plea. Make your ‘yes’ mean more by being selective. And don’t apologize for your ‘no’. Let it be enough because you are enough.
Get up earlier
This one is hard. No one wants to give up twenty to thirty minutes of precious sleep when it feels like we never get enough anyway. But getting up just a few minutes earlier to get your calendar or to-do list ready, or just sit in your quiet kitchen with some hot tea, giving yourself a few minutes before you face the day can set the tone in a positive way for everything else heading your way.
Find your guilty pleasure
It doesn’t actually have to be guilt-inducing either. Find a good book to read before bed, even if it’s just the five minutes you have before you doze off. Find a juicy TV series to wait anxiously for each week (Scandal, anyone??), find a podcast you can’t wait to finish, or even listen to an audiobook. Find something that you can love, obsess over in a healthy way (hello, Fitz on Scandal…), and share your love with friends or neighbors. Talking about a great book you just read, a show’s jaw-dropping season finale, or why your favorite character made a crazy decision is a great break from reality and sometimes a distraction.
Once a month dinner plans (or once a week phone dates)
Can you spare one evening a month to have dinner with a friend? I know I preach about this all the time, but seriously, get some friend time on the schedule and then stick to it. It doesn’t have to be costly; pack a picnic and go sit in the park with a friend. Or ask a few friends to have dinner at a set time every month, you won’t all be able to make it every month, but getting into the rhythm of meeting with friends will give you something to look forward to.
What are ways you make sure to include self-care in your day? Locking yourself in the bathroom is a totally acceptable answer. Do you fit in exercise that makes you feel alive? Make sure you step away from your desk for lunch every day so you have to stop working? What gets you a little rest in the midst of a bustling life or season?
This article was first published on TrustyChucks.com in September 2015.
Mary Graham is a lifelong resident of Indianapolis, Indiana. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and rescue dog, Blue. During the day, she teaches high school English and at night (after the girls are asleep), she writes for The Huffington Post, Pearson's Teachability, For Every Mom, her own blog TrustyChucks & various other print and digital outlets. In her spare time, she likes to read, travel, eat chocolate, run half marathons, and then eat more chocolate.