January 27, 2013

How to make time for yourself

molly published this at 3:00 am

I just got back from a wonderful yoga retreat in the Berkshires at a place called Kripalu. It was an amazing opportunity to unplug and disconnect from the world ~ to recharge and refocus for 2013. However, for many of us, opportunities like retreats aren’t part of our normal life. Therefore, in order to keep the spirit of flexibility and mindfulness, learning how to make time for ourselves on a daily basis is a skill well worth cultivating.

For many of us who strive to build a happy, successful life, integrating all of the different aspects of who we are and the roles we fill can be overwhelming. Especially when you consider the increased presence of social media and mobile technology, it can seem as though we are in danger of drowning in our digital lives.

Here’s the common denominator in all of your daily tasks: you. You, through your choices, are ultimately ALWAYS in control of how you react to the numerous assaults and demands on your time.

How can you establish a healthy, sane balance when it seems as though the world is getting more “cluttered” than ever? Here are five tips (some of which are presented in a bit of a silly point of reference) that are GUARANTEED to help you carve out some sanity and “me” time throughout your day.

1. Learn how to meditate. Meditation is the number one and most “dense” way of refueling your equilibrium. Study after study has shown the benefits of learning how to clear your mind and focus on …nothing. By spending as little as fifteen minutes per day in focused clarity, you will literally be creating “empty” space in your day. This respite will give you renewed energy to tackle whatever comes.

2. Hide. No kidding. If you work at an office, find a place on site where you can literally hide for at least 15 minutes a day. Broom closet, parking garage, under your desk ~ wherever it is, find a space where you can be undisturbed for a small sliver of your day. If you work from home, make sure that any kids are safe and then hide. If you’re a stay at home parent, exchange babysitting services with a parent group to ensure daily quiet time. It’s that important. While you hide, use this time to practice Number One on the list, above.

3. Turn off your smartphone; put your tablet in a drawer. This one may make you twitchy the first few times you do it, but the world will not stop spinning if you shut off your digital inputs for 15 minutes. Promise. In order to inject quiet and time for reflection, you MUST disengage from the chatter of the world. Take some time to breathe and practice Number One on the list, above.

4. Take a hike. Or a walk. The benefits of even small amounts of exercise are indisputable. Check out this brain mapping image that show the benefits from even a 20 minute walk. While you walk, pay attention to your breathing. Notice details: birds in the trees, flowers blooming, the shape of the clouds. Stretch while you walk. If you cheat your body, you will pay the price in a number of ways: decreased health, poor performance, quality of life issues. You are worth 20 minutes. Take them.

5. Love your work. This one is technically NOT a ‘balance’ issue, but if you are living a work life from which you feel you must always escape, you’re living the wrong life. Yes, there will be challenges even when you love your work, but when you are engaged in an activity that you truly enjoy, it generates energy. Your enthusiasm and interest in learning, growing and perfecting your chosen line of work is a reward in and of itself.

When you truly reach a level of “work life balance,” your activities will become integrated to your life experience and an extension of what makes you happy. This in turn will help you become successful. Taking the time to invest in yourself throughout the day pays dividends in every area of your life.

Have you ever tried any of the above? Did it make a difference in your productivity? your stress levels? Do you have a suggestion that worked for you?

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