Our goal at Kids Trading Company is to help you raise happy, healthy children. So usually our blog is about parenting. But one of the most important part of being a parent, is to also take care of ourselves (remember that rule on the airplane – put on your own oxygen mask first). I know, you’re busy. Between family, work, pets and house you barely have a chance to catch your breath some days. But in order for us to be the best person (parent, spouse, friend, employee, boss) we can be, we really do need to take some time for ourselves. I get it, it’s hard and there doesn’t seem to be enough time to go around.
That’s why we have compiled a list of activities that you can do to take care of yourself with minimal time commitment, so that you’ll be in tip top shape to take care of everyone and everything else. We have grouped them by available time, so that even if you only have a minute, you will get some ideas that will help keep stress at bay:
If you only have a minute
- Practice deep breathing – With our busy and hectic schedules we tend to breath very shallow, just enough to keep us going. You can sustain this for a while, but surface breathing really depletes us of energy and robs us of the full benefits of oxygen. So for a full minute, take as many deep inhales and exhales as you can. Start by expanding your belly to bring the air deep into your lungs. Then let your breath expand your rib cage sideways, and lastly bring it up into your collarbones. Hold your breath here for a fraction of a second, and then slowly let it out in reverse order: exhale from your collarbones first, then your rib cage and finally completely empty the air from your belly. Inhale through your nose (an excellent filter) and exhale through your mouth (slowly). It’s amazing how much more energized and centered we feel just by practicing some deep breathing every day.
- Drink a glass of water – Staying hydrated can be a challenge when we are always on the go, but when your body is dehydrated we feel so much worse. Symptoms can be subtle at first, but overtime cause a big drop in your energy levels and sense of well being. So make it a priority to stop and have a glass of water throughout your day. If you tend to forget, a great reminder is to set a timer for one hour. When the timer goes off you drink a glass of water, and reset the timer for another hour. If you start when you first get out of bed, by supper time you will have had the full requirement for water for the day. If you are away from home, make sure to always keep a water bottle nearby.
- Give a hug – Grab your spouse or child and give them a nice, long hug. The physical contact with a loved one will reconnect you with the real reason we try to fit so much into a day – the love for your family. A hug brings us closer together (literally and figuratively) and it also gives us a chance to just stop time for a minute, stay in the moment, and appreciate what we have right now. If none of your loved ones are around, hug a tree! Yes, I’m serious! It’s not just a term for nature lovers. Embracing the life energy the tree is channelling will ground you and make any stress you are feeling seem insignificant!
If you only have 5 minutes
- Give your skin a dry-scrub – The skin is our largest organ, and taking care of it will make a big difference in how you feel. Dry-brushing your skin can do wonders for your energy. Take 5 minutes in the morning and brush your skin in circular motions using a sponge, loofah or even a just towel. Starting from your feet and working your way up. You will brush off dead skin cells and bring blood supply to the skin. It can feel just as invigorating as a shower! If you have an extra minute, moisturize when you’re done to keep that soft, fresh skin all day.
- Call your parents, siblings or a dear friend – We get so busy that sometimes it’s hard to really take the time and connect with our loved ones. Checking in over the phone (not by text or email) is a much more real way to connect and will give you a quick reminder of all the love you have in your life.
- Meditate – No, you really don’t need an hour to go into some deep meditative state. Take 5 minutes and sit in a quiet place (could even be your parked car in between errands) and silently repeat a mantra of your choice of simply count to four while inhaling, and count to four while exhaling. Set a timer for five minutes and then let go of all thoughts swirling around in your mind while focusing on your mantra or count. It is a really quick way to remind yourself that you are so much more than someone’s spouse, parent, employee, boss or friend. You are an amazing human being that brings so much joy and love to everyone you come into contact with. You are a walking miracle really, when you consider all the complicated processes happening in your body automatically, even as you are just sitting there. Just five minutes of contemplating this will put your problems in perspective and bring a sense of calm to your day.
If you have 30 minutes
- Take a bubble bath – I know, this one can be hard to swing, especially if you have young children. But taking 30 minutes, by yourself, in a nice, hot bath can be so restoring to your health (and sanity). And while the thought of candles and aromatic bath oils can sound a little impractical for a rushed parent, you really don’t need all that to reap the benefits. You don’t need fancy bath bubbles or a spa-like bathroom either. Just that time alone can be enough to re-energize us enough to tackle whatever we need to tackle. Listen to your favourite music or audio book to really disconnect from what might be going on outside the bathroom door (when it’s safe to do so of course).
- Go for a walk – We are always telling our kids, that playing outside in the fresh air is good for them, but how often do we listen to our own advice? Getting outside, breathing deeply and feeling closer to nature is an awesome way to reconnect with yourself and nature. Bring your family if they are home with you. It doesn’t matter if you only get around the block in those 30 minutes or manage to log a 4 kilometer brisk walk, that fresh air and light will re-energize you for the rest of the day.
- Exercise – It is sooo easy to find excuses to why we don’t have time to exercise. But you know that you will feel so much better once you do. It won’t happen unless you schedule it in to your day, so figure out a day and time when you can spend 30 minutes on yourself and then make it happen. It doesn’t have to be a full on, high intensity work out either. You can go for a run, or you can work on increasing your strength (push ups and planks anyone?) or you can just go for a brisk walk. But your body was made to move and while you exercise, your mind gets a nice break too because you are focusing on what you are doing instead of what is stressing you out at the moment. If you simply can't manage a consecutive 30 minutes, break it into three 10-minute segments. It will still do you good.
- Eat sitting down – How many of you eat the majority of your meals on the go? It might be breakfast you’re barely eating while getting your kids ready for school. Or a lunch eaten in the car on your way between meetings or errands. Maybe supper is a quick affair between after school activities. But try to make at least one of those meals a sit-down, distraction free meal. Where you are just focused on the food, and eating. Really stop to taste what you are eating, and take the time to chew. Your digestion will thank you, and by slowing down and really experiencing our food we are likely to eat less and fill up more. And that can be great for our waistline too.