It’s starting. The stress levels are rising. The glow and relaxation that summer brought has been replaced with the hectic work/play/school schedules. The season of holidays is gearing up and thoughts of Halloween costumes and Christmas gifts are cluttering your mind at night. Was the hockey equipment aired out? Where are those strands of lights? Did that trip permission form get signed?
It’s hard to carve out time for yourself. Moms and Dads are often pulled the minute they get home from work. Replacing one “hat” for another, and collapsing into bed exhausted, only to wake up a few hours later and do it all again.
But the reality is, for you to be the best employee, caregiver, parent, friend or partner, you need to be the best you. The only way to do that is carve out some protected time in your weekly schedule for yourself. This time isn’t meant to be spent trolling Facebook or the half hour spent grocery shopping solo while you wait for your daughter’s karate to finish.
A few months ago, I made a commitment to myself and my family to take better care of myself. The hope being, I would become a happier, more caring and more thoughtful person. The first thing I did was get block off two one-hour blocks in my weekly schedule. Full disclosure: I work out almost every day, even if just for 20 minutes, and it does feel like something that I have to do. My protected time was going to be time for me to really nourish my body and my mind while slowing down.
I was a regular at my yoga studio before kids and with the arrival of each son, my practice time slowly whittled to once a month, if that. I knew that I missing it and so I recommitted.
It hasn’t been easy squelching my guilty feelings but I am back in the studio and it feels great! I asked my yoga instructor Lori, of Harmony Yoga Wellness, to share what she believes to be some of the benefits from a regular practice.
- Mental: Deep breathing and thoughtful movements help us to reset the mind to a state of calmness.
- Physical: Movement combined with breath work improves posture and spinal alignment as well as increases flexibility and strength.
- Neurological: Yoga nurtures the mind-body connection, stimulating our deep relationship with the power of our own brain, which in turn improves memory and our ability to focus and concentrate.
- Psychological: By nurturing ourselves and showing self-compassion in our yoga practice, we learn to take these habits with us into our daily lives.
- Community: Sharing regular time with others, in a safe, kind and peaceful environment creates a sense of belonging and community, a feeling of connectedness and compassion towards ourselves and others.
Sounds like a pretty good trade-off doesn’t it? Just a few hours of self-care for all of those benefits! But how do you protect your time, especially if you tend to be a people-pleaser? Here are some tips:
- Block off the same few hours in your calendar each week.
- Consider signing up for an activity outside your home. It’s a lot harder to skip-out when you’ve paid hard-earned cash in advance.
- Tell everyone: your kids, your friends, and your partner. Tell them about your plan to protect your time and ask them for their support. You may be surprised by how little time it takes for those around you to adjust to your new schedule.
- Don’t bail on yourself. When someone asks you to do something during your protected time say no. You don’t have to give any more details. A simple, “That’s not going to work for me,” will do just fine.
- Practice what you preach. When someone else is practicing protected time be respectful and supportive.
Tried yoga and it’s not for you? Consider some other ways to nourish your mind, body and soul.
- Take a walk outside but leave the iPod at home.
- Exercise classes
- Guided meditations
- Art or photography sessions
- Locking the bathroom door, and indulging in a warm bath
- Cooking classes
How do you practice self-care?