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Lifestyle: balancing busy lives and self-care

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Many of us today wear multiple hats – the family hat, the friend hat, the career hat, the wellness seeker hat, the explorer hat and it goes on…
 
In my experience of talking to people about their every-days  what I most often tend to hear is that trying to juggle these identities and responsibilities leads to varying degrees of overwhelm or stress. Always trying to do more, see more, be more. 

While most agree that taking time out and being kinder to yourself is the first step to wellness, what else is there? How else can we reshape our approach to wearing those hats with peace of mind? 

Prioritize

Tasks pile up but not all of them are 'do or die'. Finding a way to define these tasks and how they add or detract value to your life is a first step to decluttering your lists. Be truthful with yourself about how essential the task is, what it generates, what it competes with for your time. Make time for things that make you ‘tick’, things that get you in your element. This enables us to determine what comes first, what can wait and what possibly doesn’t need to be done at all. 

Be present

Wear your hat well, by “being There with a Capital ‘T’”, as a friend of mine once said to me. She meant really ‘be there’!). Set boundaries with yourself on the tasks and roles you have chosen to prioritise and stay present. This not only enables you to listen, be inspired, share your energy, support others, give it your best. When you’re working, focus your energy on work. Take the work hat off when you’re being a parent, sibling, daughter, son, niece, nephew, friend, teacher…

And then when you find the time to invest in you check out of technology, check out of obligations, and celebrate yourself. Be still, move, eat, stretch, swim, stroll, talk, read. Fully and unashamedly be there.

Pay attention to your inner compass

Felt that eye twitching? Felt the throbbing head? Is your lower back sore? Back and neck tight? Breathing fast? Heart racing? Hands tingling? Nervous? Agitated?

These are all signs of stress and anxiety from subtle to extreme. They are also your body/gut/inner compass telling you that you must slow down. There is no job/relationship/deal/obligation that is worth more than your health and state of mind. Disruptions and stressful situations may come and go, but your response to these makes all the difference to your wellbeing, relationships and outlook. 

To tune-in, take 5 minutes at the start and end of everyday. Sit still with no technology, external noise or other stimulation. Focus on the movement of the body with the breath and watch as it slows down. Then pay attention to the stomach, chest and throat – these are some of the main ‘signalling points’ for anxiety. Notice tightness, tension. Breathe into this, soften it. Release it.

Pay attention to changes in these areas everyday. Are you more tight or tense on any one day than others? What is going in your life at this time? Do you need to go back and re-prioritise? 

Self-Care

“You cant pour from an empty cup”. To offer the best of ourselves to the world around us, we must in turn feel good, be well, and be at peace to the best of our ability. Giving to the point of depletion leaves us empty and unable to continue giving. Use the practices of prioritising, being present, slowing down, tuning into the inner compass and take time for you.

Don’t be ashamed to ask for support if it will offer you relief and better overall outcomes. Most people are ready to share, to support, to be involved but haven’t yet been asked – so reach out today to give and receive. That’s the basis of a sharing and trust economy, and that ‘better world’ which we all hope for. 

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