So, tell me, how has your week been so far?
Perhaps you've been a bit flat out this week? Maybe the to do list is building, or the chores are piling up? Maybe the workload has accelerated, or your business has ramped up a gear? Have you managed to carve out any time to do something nice just for yourself? A hot bath and a good book? Perhaps book a treatment or a haircut? Maybe just painting your nails while enjoying a glass of wine or cup of your favourite tea?
Looking after ourselves often comes at the end of a very long to do list, especially at this time of year when activities seem to get more frequent in the run up to Christmas. So, when time is very short, what quick things can we do to feel good, relax and unwind, and rejuvenate the energy levels?
Here are some simple self-care ideas you can do in under half an hour (perfect for when you're short on time ;-)
Switch off the phone and the laptop
Half an hour away from screens if you’ve been busy working can be a real relief to tired eyes and a frazzled brain, and switching off all that incoming communication can feel liberating! Now, what are you going to do with the time?
I used to read business books before bed: a disaster. I’d switch off the light and my head would be buzzing with new ideas. Now I stick to half an hour of a favourite fiction book, and I’m relaxed and ready for sleep. Dipping into the pages of a good book can be a lovely brain calmer at any time of the day, and for busy people on the go all the time, it’s very difficult to move around and read at the same time, so it forces you to sit down and rest for 30 minutes.
Fitness coach Sara Southey from The Southey Way shares her tip with us; "We tend to think that ‘exercise’ is a particular thing we should do, at the gym or going for a run. These are awesome, obviously but think about the other hours in the day. 24 hours, one of which may be at the gym (or similar) and 7 hours we spend sleeping which leaves 16 hours. The more we move, fidget, stand up, wander about, take the stairs etc, the more energy we use and the less damage we do by being sedentary. So the simplest, quickest and easiest thing to do is move more, move often!"
I don't know if you've given yoga a try, but for me, half an hour of a favourite online yoga instructor leaves me charged and re-energised ready to go! For relaxation and unwinding there are some lovely stretch & relax classes that are available for free on YouTube.
Make yourself something delicious and healthy
When we’re busy, often the first thing that can go out of the window is the healthy eating plan. Taking half an hour to make yourself a delicious lunch that you look forward to enjoying can feel indulgent and rewarding. Try a home made soup, breakfast chia pancakes or some properly made scrambled eggs with mushrooms – yum! Even when you’re super busy, eating regularly can stabilise blood sugars and keep your mood and energy levels up. You could also try rustling up some healthy snacks to keep you going in between meals.
In my humble opinion, few things in life beat a good walk in nature – get out for a short walk and watch the colours of the trees change as you crunch your feet over the fallen leaves. It’s a stress busting exercise that is totally free of charge!
Check your sleep habits
We all know that not enough good quality sleep can affect your mood, your energy levels, and even your brains ability to function properly the next day. Keep a sleep diary for a few days to make sure you’re getting enough good sleep and if not, see if you can figure out why. Is the bedroom dark enough, the covers warm enough but not too warm? Is your going to bed routine familiar and relaxing?
Some people swear by a power nap during the day, but personally it messes up my sleep routine and leaves me feeling groggy and disorientated. If you’re someone who enjoys a quick nap, then taking half an hour to get some extra rest is a great self care tip. If like me, you prefer a good solid nights sleep, then just make sure you’re getting what you need.
There’s something lovely about taking a trip to the shops and buying yourself a small gift – a bunch of flowers, a book you’ve been meaning to read, a new hand cream. Whatever it is can be a lovely way to make sure you’re looking after yourself, rewarding yourself for all the hard work you do, and saves you waiting for someone else to treat you!
Book a treatment
If you love a trip to a spa or salon, then booking a regular appointment can keep you topped up, healthy, energised and keep down the aches and pains! I asked Anne Skelton, owner of Serenity Holistic Therapies, which treatments she’d suggest if time is short: “There are two treatments I would recommend. The first is an express facial and the second is a slightly shortened Indian Head Massage. Although I can always tailor a back massage treatment to suit the client in less than half an hour. All good stress busters - the facial having the extra bonus of glowing skin too.”
Switching off the phone, switching on the music and dancing round the living room is something I regularly do. You can’t dance and be miserable at the same time, so it does a wonderful job of lifting my mood instantly if I’m feeling low. It’s also great exercise and a good energy booster! And there's no one to roll their eyes and laugh at my dance moves (apart from the dogs!).
Meet up with a pal
Grabbing a coffee with a friend, or having a chat on the phone with someone you haven’t spoken to in a while can be a lovely way of boosting endorphins, and creating those all important social connections.
Find your thing
Try mindfulness, meditation, journaling, colouring or drawing. There are so many ways you can wind down, relax and calm the busy mind. The Wellbeing Centre in Newbury run regular classes in mindfulness and meditation.
Whatever activities fulfil you, re-energise or relax you and make you feel good, it almost doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you enjoy doing it, and want to take time out to do it regularly.
Make the most of your self care time
When you do manage to get some time for yourself, have a list ready of all the things that you love to do that boosts your energy and makes you feel good. If you’ve committed some time to do something for yourself, guard it fiercely! It would be so easy for someone else to need your time and then it’s gone. Ideally finding half an hour each day would be brilliant, but even if you can only manage half an hour a week, get the date with yourself in the diary and stick to it! It can be very tricky to put your needs first, especially when you have family and work commitments that need tending to. Just remember the old adage, you can’t pour from an empty cup, and giving to others is so much easier when you feel charged, refreshed, and full of energy!
What do you do to look after yourself and take some time out for you? Please share in the comments, I'd love to know what works!