Every day I set out to achieve more than I realistically can. Like many women, I wear many hats and the two things I find that I consistently sacrifice in my busy life is exercise and meditation. It just so happens that these two things are integral to my physical and emotional health. Sound familiar?
Recently I asked a group of close friends what they thought my strengths were in a self-evaluation exercise I was doing (another story). The overriding response included determined, loyal, caring, perfectionist. It just so happens that these qualities happen to be at the root of my undoing when it comes to self-care and preservation.
You see I can’t help but strive to be the best I can be and in everything I undertake, I’ve always held a bit of an all or nothing approach. So each day I set out intending to include an hour of exercise and meditation into my schedule – many days I fail, until now.
Take the pressure off
I’ve realised as a mumma of two busy kids, a husband who often works away and without family support (or a nanny – wishful thinking), I can’t always count on setting a fixed schedule. Some weeks I feel like the universe is conspiring to prevent me from taking time out for myself. I’m having to accept the simple fact that I don’t have chunks of time each day to exercise or meditate at this point in my life (I’m hoping this might change in the future).
So this is what I do…
If it’s not scheduled it’s not gonna happen. Every Sunday, I sit and look at my week ahead. I write down roughly what I think I can manage to achieve each day. Sometimes it includes meeting a friend for a walk, others a gym class or simply a walk to the end of my street and back. I also plan to start and/or finish each day with meditation and a few restorative yoga poses.
Commit without attachment
I write it down with commitment, but without attachment. You see sometimes things just come up or no matter how early I rise to meditate, my kids are up earlier still and climbing all over me. In the past, I’d get so frustrated by the fact that I’d only managed a few minutes of meditation or didn’t make the gym. And voila – another stress or frustration enters my life, something I could do without. Plan it, turn up and start it and if it doesn’t go to plan, don’t stress it. Try again later or tomorrow.
Chunk it down
Where in the past if I couldn’t exercise for at least an hour, I’d write the day off for exercise. Now any activity I manage I accept gratefully as a bonus. If I say, plan to go for a walk in the morning but all hell breaks loose, the kids drag their feet and suddenly I find myself with a whole lot less time than planned…instead of aborting my chance to exercise and sulking to my husband that I’ll never be fit, I take the time I have and go anyway, even if I only have 10 minutes up my sleeve.
In fact, multiple studies have demonstrated that small burst of intense exercise (for a total of just 6 minutes per week) is as effective for fitness, strength, weight management, and cardiac health as longer exercise plans (of 6 hours per week). So time is no excuse, we can all find 6 minutes per week.
It’s the same with meditation. I have found small increments are wondrous for my mental health. If you are new to meditation or just like having guidance, you might like a free app I have discovered called Smiling Mind. A friend was recommended it by her psychologist and I have become somewhat hooked. You can choose guided meditations as short as 5 minutes long, right up to 40-minute sessions for when you have a little longer. It has loads of great features and I’d really recommend it. Here is the link to the website and you’ll also find it at the app store (for free).
Get involved with the kids (and vice versa)
I quite often get out on the skateboard or bounce on the trampoline with my kids – exercise is about movement, pure and simple. Bush walks are an absolute fave in our house. I’ve even managed to spark my kids interest in meditation – Smiling Mind has meditations for kids in various age groups too.
So now instead of all or nothing, I take a something is better than nothing approach and move or meditate when I can. These small things add up and DO make a difference to the quality of my life. So if you see me doing a few star jumps whilst waiting for an email to open or find me meditating in my car whilst waiting for my kids to finish school – know I’m practicing a little self-preservation!
You might also like the previous posts:
Is stress making you sick – I explain how stress affects your health, read more here.
Treating adrenal stress naturally, read more here.
5 simple steps to stress less now, read more here.
I’d love you to share what works for you…any tips that might help other busy people? Love you to post a comment below.