With full-time jobs, family responsibilities, and the regular grind of life, 24 hours feels like not enough. And since we can't make more time, we have to learn how to use what we do have more efficiently. Namely, make sure you make time for yourself. If you feel better, more relaxed, and healthier, you'll get more out of your day.
The advantages of setting aside time to relax, recharge and refocus are substantial. The logic is easy to understand, but putting it into practice can often be difficult. If you’re ready to get back on track and bring a sense of enjoyment and purpose to everyday tasks, implement these 5 tips in your life now.
Learn How to Say “No”
Do you remember the last time you said “no” to a coworker, family member, or friend? Many people have a very difficult time doing this. You may think it’s selfish or you're afraid of how others will take your response. However, the problem with always saying yes is that it can easily get out of hand, eating up precious time you should have allotted for your own needs. Start saying no to anything that isn’t valuable to you or won’t bring you satisfaction.
For example, if a coworker asks for you to stay after work and help them on a project, it may be best to politely decline and go to the gym or spend time with your family. However, if a friend asks for you help at a charity fundraiser and it happens to be something you are passionate about, go for it!
Take Exercise Seriously
Exercise does far more for the body than just melting away fat and improving your health. Those who work out regularly and eat a healthy diet (no more emotional eating!) are less prone to stress and are able to deal with the daily rigors of life more easily. Running on a treadmill for just 30 minutes can reverse stress by releasing soothing brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. These good feelings will last the rest of the day as well. You may have heard about a “runner’s high” before.
This is an excellent example of how proper exercise can increase your well-being and even make you feel euphoric. Think of exercise as an enjoyable way of improving your body and mind rather than just another thing to cross off the to-do list. Find something that involves physical activity with the things you enjoy. If running is not your thing, maybe try a local volleyball or basketball league. If you find that your day goes by quickly and it’s time for bed before you know it, you might want to begin formally scheduling time for yourself. Find or make space in your daily schedule for a minimum of 10 to 20 minutes to yourself.
During this time you are free to do whatever you wish as long as it’s relaxing. If you are unsure of what to do, try some gentle stretching exercises or meditation. Don’t forget to take a few moments throughout your day to just close your eyes, breathe, and clear your mind. Too often we only make time for this when we are at a breaking point. There are many times during a normal day in which we can do this. For example, the next time you are waiting for the coffee to brew, practice some deep breathing.
Leave Work at Work
Leaving work at work can be really hard for workaholics and overachievers. If you find yourself constantly checking your business email at home or constantly fretting about your job, it’s time to take a step back. These habits will eat up time for your own goals and priorities as well as keep you stressed 24/7. Make it a habit to always leave work on time rather than stay late - it will be there when you get back.
On your drive home, listen to some music, clear your mind, and leave work stresses behind. By the time you get home, you should be ready to spend time with your family or yourself. If you work from home, you may find leaving work a bit more challenging. If the temptation is too much, shut off your computer completely or put it in another room.
Feed Your Passions
One of the greatest priorities in your life should be your own happiness. Most of us have a hobby or interest that is of great importance to us - fantasy sports, collecting, reading, etc. Don’t make the mistake of putting this on the backburner. When you feed your passions, you’ll be happier with yourself and feel accomplished - giving you more energy and enthusiasm when facing your day.
The ideal hobby would be something that is relaxing and enjoyable. It shouldn’t feel like work or cause you stress. If you are unsure of what hobby you would want to take up, try out a few different ones. You may discover an enjoyable activity you never thought you’d have fun doing.
The Bottom Line
Putting yourself first can seem selfish and greedy to those who don’t understand the true importance of it. When your goals and well-being are a priority, you are able to boost your mental and physical health as well as become a more engaged member of your family or community. People who let go of stress and feel good about themselves are able to better care for their families and improve their productivity at work.
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