You have likely heard that in order to be at your best and to care for others, you need to take care of yourself first. It’s the airplane analogy: You put your own oxygen mask on first before you begin helping others. But self-care can be easier said than done when you’re busy with your kids, work, or both. Fortunately, being intentional with your time and carving out small moments for yourself can improve your well-being. Here are a few simple ideas to help you get started:
- Wake up earlier: For some, the prospect of getting any less sleep is not a positive thought! But giving yourself just 15 extra minutes in the morning can equate to 15 minutes of quiet, alone time before the rest of the family wakes up. I know some parents who relish the peacefulness as they sip their coffee and read the paper or scroll through social media. For those who are naturally early risers, the morning may be the perfect opportunity for yoga, a workout, or a jog or walk. It’s a time completely for you and may help get your day off to a positive start.
- Have a bath: When I want to relax and just soak in some silence, I have a bath. Sometimes I play music but other times, I crave the quiet. I turn off the running to-do list in my mind and allow myself to just be. The most common time I find for baths is in the evening, once the kids have gone to bed. Although, I have been known to disappear for a bit on a Saturday morning.
- Schedule home alone time: I don’t know about you but I love the rare occasion when I am home completely alone. It’s not often but sometimes my hubby and both kids are off at activities and I’m perfectly content to stay home. Admittedly, I’m usually seizing the opportunity to clean the house but sometimes I take some time to do whatever I want – watch TV, scroll through Twitter, or do some online shopping.
- Take a break during the work day: I am very guilty of forgetting to take a break while I’m working. Lately, I’ve been making a concerted effort to get outside, even if only for ten minutes. On days when the sun is shining, it gives me a boost before I return to working. A break for you may be heading into the lunch room to chat with colleagues – No shop talk of course! If you’re sitting at a desk all day, try going for a walk. A brief change of scenery and some movement can be little things that make a big impact.
- Tidy your space: If the idea of decluttering doesn’t appeal to you at all, then skip to the next point! But for me, having not only a mental space but a physical space that is free of clutter is very calming. Taking five or ten minutes to organize my desk puts me in a better frame of mind to tackle the day ahead. Ditto for clearing the clutter that seems to accumulate at home on our breakfast bar.
- Practice gratitude: I have friends who love their gratitude journals and take a few minutes every day to reflect on what they’re grateful for. I have a large whiteboard in my office at school where I add things that I’m thankful for. It makes me happy to look over all the things that have made me smile throughout the year. Taking time for gratitude may even just be a quiet moment when you’re alone in your thoughts. You don’t have to write anything down.
Self-care can be things like scheduling date nights, going for pedicures, or getting a massage. But when you’re short on time, the ideas above might provide your day with a quick injection of positivity that helps you to be your best self.
Written by: Erin Agnello, BA/BEd/OCT
Edited & Designed by: Christina Denham
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My name is John Haber. I’m a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and the founder of Nogginsland. I became a COTA in 2003, and then went back to school much later, receiving my Master’s Degree in OT from Mercy College in New York in 2016.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a variety of populations in different settings, from school districts, to developmental disability centers, to children’s hospitals.