Lose weight. Exercise. Eat better. Well, sure, those are great ways to take care of yourself physically, but when you’re barely taking care of yourself at all because, say, you’re a parent to a young child or an older child with school and homework and music class and soccer, when are you going to fit in at least three workouts at the gym and how are you going to cut fat,cholesterol, carbs, processed foods, and sugar out of your diet?
For the first in this series of posts on self-care, I’m focusing on the physical domain. It is probably the area we all best know what we could or should be doing. We just don’t want to. Or it seems too hard.
So, here are some ideas for how to take care of yourself physically when you don’t have a lot of time or energy to do it.
Drink more water. Just take it with you. Maybe you need a good water bottle that won’t leach bpa’s, but carry one in your car. Keep a glass of water next to you all the time, so maybe you’ll just space out and drink it by accident because it’s within arm’s reach. Or drink a full glass of water before you drink your morning coffee. If you’re not convinced, read about the health benefits of drinking water. It does more for you than you ever imagined.
Take deep breaths. Oxygen helps you calm down. Stress hurts your body. Inhale. Exhale. In traffic. When your kid doesn’t want to eat the corn quesadilla he just asked for and you slaved over for two whole minutes including microwave time.
Take a multivitamin. I thought I’d figured out an easy way to remember mine: put it next to my toothbrush so I’d grab it first thing in the morning. But I burped vitamin for hours if I tried to take it on an empty stomach. It might be better for you to take one of the ones made for grown-ups with all sorts of extra calcium to keep you from getting osteoporosis, but if you don’t actually take it, it’s not having much benefit. So take your kid’s chewables and give yourself two when he asks for his. He’ll remember because they’re purple, orange, or pink and in the shape of animals. Maybe he wants a kitty today. You eat the elephant.
Remember that Food is Not Love. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Don’t buy junk food at the grocery store. If it’s not in your pantry, you won’t eat as much of it. Make yourself have to actually run out for potato chips or to Sonic for a cherry limeade. It will cut your calories.
Get enough sleep. There are all sorts of tips out there to have good sleep hygiene. They don’t actually work for me. But sleeping impacts mood, metabolism, and ability to function, among other things. Getting sleep is good. Maybe you give yourself a bedtime. Maybe you find a way of taking a nap on a Sunday. But get rest. You’ll be nicer to your kids. You’ll move faster through all the things you want to get done for yourself. You’ll drive more safely. Figure out how to get enough sleep, then actually do that.
And from Zen Habits, your bonus not-as-easy physical self care method, find Fun Ways to Exercise.
Image by LostxIn Moonriver
Sonya Fehér writes about parenting, divorce, and self care at mamaTRUE.