We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t give from an empty cup.” And to be honest, it used to drive me crazy. I never understood the concept of taking care of yourself, so that you can give your best effort in everything you do. Unfortunately, for most of the population, this concept is non-existent. Most of us juggle many responsibilities and aren’t taking care of ourselves – physically, mentally, or emotionally. Having experienced total depletion on all three of these, I want to give you my top-five tips for making sure I’m taking care of my needs every day. I didn’t understand the importance of these until I could no longer be of service to my family, job, and especially to myself.
First: five minutes of peace and quiet. I usually read some sort of meditation for the day. However, it can be anything from reading a few pages from a favorite book, sitting quietly with a cup of coffee, or spending five minutes in total silence.
Second: Sleep! I find this one to be one of the more challenging ones. Between my son coming in during the night or tossing and turning, my body suffers when I haven’t slept well. To ensure I get the eight-to-ten hours my body needs to feel okay, I set reminders on my phone to go to bed (I know it sounds ridiculous) and limit exposure to electronics in the evening. Your body and mind need time to wind down. Put your phone away and keep the TV off for a full hour before bed, I guarantee sleeping will improve!
Third: Prep food for the entire day in the morning. If your schedule is anything like mine, you’re on the go all day! When I have meals with me (and eat them), my mood is stable and I’m less likely to stop and pick up unhealthy food because my blood sugar is level and I don’t need a quick fix. I usually have lunch, two or three snacks with me, and plenty of water. Try to keep healthy snacks with you all the time like tree nuts, avocados, apples, banana, granola. Yes, this can be time-consuming, but when your body is fueled with the proper food your physical and mental wellbeing are nourished and productive. When blood sugar is up and down, we feel extremely tired, and very moody, this can ruin your day and everyone else’s.
Fourth: Move! I can’t stress the importance of moving around for at least 30 minutes a day. Get out and go for a walk, practice yoga or pilates, take a bike ride, or whatever, but get outside and get moving. Choose something you enjoy, and make it a priority to get those 30 minutes of movement in at least five days a week.
Fifth: Pause. Throughout the day take time to pause and breathe. With technology being at our fingertips these days, there are a few huge benefits. One of my favorites is the “Breathe” app, on the iPhone and iWatch. It reminds you multiple times throughout the day to just take a minute and sit quietly, focus on your breathing, and take a break from the craziness of the world. If you don’t have this app, set a reminder on a watch, or an alarm on your phone to take a minute or two every three or four hours. It seems small but it really makes a big difference.
If you take yourself for granted, so will everyone else. Remember these five simple life hacks to improve your health and keep your cup full.
Elyse Buchbinder, RN, PN (301-514-8918 or email@example.com) is the co-owner of B-Strong Athletics and has been helping people improve their lives through health, fitness, and nutrition for over a decade.