As technology puts us in a position of being available 24/7 many of us have allowed our routines to slip. We wake up to our phone alarm, brew the coffee while flicking through emails, chew our toast while scrolling through the news, then tune out on the bus catching up on Instagram. When we get to the office, we revisit our inbox to another long list of messages then settle in for a day of work all on the screen. Going home we message on Facebook, gulp dinner while Netflix rolls through that documentary, then one last check of the work messages before bed. This is a pretty normal routine for most people, with minor moments of social interaction and brief glimpses of family time.
When was the last time you put you first?
However, do you also have a self-care routine that feeds your needs? Taking a walk, going to the gym or an exercise class, playing an instrument or gazing off into the distance to think about everything and nothing at all?
Not many of us take enough time to plan self-nurturing activities, and this is a problem, not only for our overall health but for our productivity.
“People that look after themselves [and practice self-care] do have better cognitive ability. They do have better focus and they do have better concentration,” according to clinical psychologist Dr Russell Thackeray. “They tend to actually produce more.”
Taking care of yourself isn’t as time consuming or difficult as it seems. By incorporating a few of the following suggestions, you will find yourself more refreshed and productive.
Turn the phone off, just for a while.
Your phone is the ultimate distraction device. Give yourself permission to turn it off and enjoy some time out. The blue light your phone emits is not kind, especially before bed. Put your phone on aeroplane mode after setting your alarm and give yourself a break at least two hours before bed. You’ll sleep better; really.
Be in the moment.
While that phone is off, take some time to just be alone. Focus on the here and now. If you need to meditate, do yoga, run or listen to music, allow your mind to focus on where it is, not on the day you just had or what tomorrow will bring, but on right now. It’s a hard practice to develop, but doing this for about 10 minutes each day (and building up from there) will help you with memory, stress and anxiety, concentration, multitasking and creative thinking.
Sleep more and get good-quality sleep.
We all know we feel better when we are well-rested. Getting good quality sleep isn’t as easy as it sounds, but there are things you can do to help yourself. Avoid excessive alcohol intake before bed. Set a regular bedtime and wake time. Ensure your bedroom is cool and dark. Create a sleep routine, like having a warm shower to prepare for bed then reading for 10 minutes before turning the lights out so you can relax. Try and avoid having emotional conversations before bed or while in your bed. Your bed should be treated as a sacred space reserved for only good things, like sleeping, relaxing and making love.
Introduce an activity to your routine.
Why not sign up for that cool calligraphy class you saw advertised, or have a regular running time built into your day. While many of us have ‘activities’ each day, like walking the dogs or helping the kids with homework, you must have a time that is all about you. It should be something that interests you and challenges you, something engaging and outside of your normal day-to-day. Drinking with colleagues on Friday evening is not an activity. Get creative and use your time to care about you and discover more of what you want from your life.
Making it Happen
You know you’ve been reading this advice for years. Now it is time to do something about it. Use that phone you are so attached to for good-set reminders and make a plan. Divide your time and don’t brush yourself off. You will see the rewards of self-care routine in less than a month if you commit.