A question I often get asked is “how do I fit all of this in?”, usually preceded by “My life is so busy, I really struggle to find the time”.
I get it. If you’re holding down a busy job or running your own business, as well as dealing with the demands of family life, it can seem like there are simply not enough hours in the day to fit in exercise, relaxation, preparing healthy meals and getting adequate sleep. This can lead to some people sacrificing some (or maybe all) of these lifestyle areas, usually to the detriment of their wellbeing.
It’s an all too familiar path – after a period of pushing yourself, you get run down. You feel physically and mentally exhausted and quite often this is when you get sick, especially during the winter months. I used to go down this path quite often when I was working as a lawyer and I see it so often now with my clients and with friends.
The trouble is when you are really busy – whether it’s with a big work project or caring for children (and maybe homeschooling them) or other family members – it can feel like there’s just no let up, certainly not enough to go and do a yoga class in the middle of day. So what do you do?
First up, it’s important to stop thinking in ‘all or nothing’ terms. Instead of thinking ‘sod it, I just can’t do my home workouts or Couch to 5k until this big project is finished’, you switch your thinking around to see the possibilities of what you CAN do.
Look for the possibilities of what you CAN do
Look at your day and see if you can find a couple of 15 minute windows to do something that will benefit your wellbeing. It could be doing some meal prep for your lunch or dinner, going for a brisk walk, doing some mindfulness or writing in a journal. If you are struggling to find more than one 15 minute window, how about getting up 15 minutes earlier or spending 15 minutes before you go to bed doing something relaxing?
Secondly, start thinking in terms of how you can support yourself so you get through this busy period without getting run down. Take the focus off all the “shoulds” (e.g. I should be eating better, exercising more, going to bed earlier, which can trigger feelings of guilt) and instead focus on your needs. What do you need to do to get you through this period? It may be that what you need to do is take regular relaxation or movement breaks throughout the day. When you focus on your needs, it becomes easier to give yourself permission to do those things .
Thirdly, support your body and mind with the best nutrition you can manage. Those last 3 words are very intentional. Take the pressure off yourself and do your best to eat well. Keep it simple and try get 4-5 servings of veg a day, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t manage it every day. You know that lots of sugar is not going to help you have great energy so do your best to have healthy alternatives to hand – nuts, dried fruit, healthy bars and a bit of dark chocolate. The same goes for too much caffeine, whether it’s in the form of coffee, tea, chocolate or caffeinated soft drinks. Swap the high caffeine drinks for herbal teas or just plan H20 – your energy levels really will be better for it.
Fourthly, think of the long-term picture and in particular, what the impact of all the stress and busy-ness is having on you. At the start of this blog, I said how common it is for people who push themselves too hard to get run down and then sick. When you’re stressed and over-tired, your immune system doesn’t work so well, you don’t digest your food as effectively (which means you’re possibly not absorbing as many nutrients as well as being bad news for your gut), you have too much cortisol zipping around in your body (which can lead to hard to shift weight gain) and your mood is affected. It takes a real toll on your physical and mental health. But there are so many things you can do to help dial down the stress and they don’t have to take up huge amounts of time.
You just need to be willing to find that bit of time and to use it wisely.
If you feel like you need some support to stay energised and self-care focused through a busy or stressful period, my ENERGISE 1 to 1 coaching programme can help you. If you’d like to learn more about working with me, I’d love to chat to you. Book a free discovery call simply by clicking here.