Whether your schedule is packed every single day, or you're just going through a decidedly trying time, it can feel impossible to step back and find time to relax. However, finding ways to take care of yourself when you're busy is not only necessary, but pretty much essential for good health.
That's because 24/7 stress can wear you down pretty fast, especially when you do nothing to reign it in. Think anxiety, depression, headaches, and stomach problems, according to WebMD, which are all stress-related health issues. It can really become quite the problem.
"When we are very busy, it becomes even more essential to take care of ourselves in a few simple ways that make a big difference in our overall well being," says psychologist Nicole Martinez, Psy.D., LCPC, to Bustle over email. "Stress is responsible for 77 percent of illness, even major illness, so it becomes essential to manage it, and practice good self care. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, irritable, and unable to cope when we have too much stress piled on us, but we can mitigate those effects by taking good care of ourselves."
So let's look into some ways to do just that. Here are some ways to practice a little self-care, even when you're day is crazy busy.
1. Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep
A busy schedule may not leave much time for sleep. Or worse, it can keep you awake and staring worriedly at the ceiling all night long. But either way, you should still try your hardest to get some rest. As Martinez points out, "While we get into our deepest levels of sleep, our immune system rebuilds itself, and our serotonin and norepinephrine rebuild and replenish themselves. If we are missing our sleep, we are not allowing our body to do this critical function, which has major consequences on health and mood."
2. Try To Squeeze In Some Exercise
I know, you barely have time to sleep, much less exercise. However, you should still squeeze in a quick walk, or a bit of yoga, whenever possible. As Rhett Power said on Inc.com, "A little exercise will go a long way to reducing stress. Even just a brisk walk in the morning will energize and motivate you for the day ahead." So put on those Nikes and get to it.
3. Don't Feed Off A Vending Machine
Resist the urge to pop quarters in vending machines, and instead focus on eating real foods. "If the body is fueled with healthy food and drinks, it helps build our immune system, and runs like a healthier machine overall. How we feel physically has a major impact on how we feel mentally, and vice versa," Martinez says.
4. Take A Break From Your Texts
Don't get bogged down with your constant stream of texts. Instead, put your phone down and practice having a few moments of peace. As Grace Kelly said on her blog CityGirlConfidence.com, "Turn everything off and be with yourself for five [minutes] a day ... you’ll see results in both your health and your wealth in no time as you clear the clutter of distractions from your day."
5. Schedule In A Few Breaks
Don't forget to schedule some "me" time into the day, lest you go totally crazy. "Take a short walk, listen to some music in your car, anything to remove yourself from the work environment for even 10 to 15 minutes can greatly reduce your stress," Martinez suggests.
6. Make Sure Your Routine Is Super Easy
A busy week is not the time to learn how to French braid your hair, or to suddenly decide it's high tie you make your first soufflé. Save such things for less busy times, and instead streamline your routine. As Marthe Hagen noted on her blog TheFreedomExperiment.com, "Make it a habit to cook a larger batch of dinner on day one, and eat leftovers for the next two days. Use Sundays to prepare what to wear for the next couple of days. Wear your hair in a ponytail five days in a row." The easier the better.
7. Cry Into Your Pillow
A stressful day, or week, or month can get pretty overwhelming, and you might find yourself holding it all in. Don't. "If you’re tired and sad, cry it all out ... Get it all out, all the frustration, the overwhelm, the anger and the fear. You’ll feel much better after," Hagen suggested.
8. Call Your Mom Or Another Loved One
Whenever I'm stressed, I call my mom for some advice, or to talk me off the proverbial ledge. She always knows just what to say to calm me down and give me some perspective. That's why I highly recommend you do the same on your next whirlwind day. Take a second to call a best friend or family member, and let them bring you back to reality.
9. Get It All Out In Writing
Remember that thing I said about not sleeping? Jotting down a few notes before bed may be just what you need. According to Power, "Writing is a therapeutic activity. In just a few minutes, you can write your thoughts, worries, gratitude, or whatever else comes to mind. Keep the journal near your bed and make a habit of writing a few paragraphs or even sentences each night before you go to sleep." Hopefully once it's all out on paper, you'll be able to sleep like a baby.
10. Zone Out With Some Fiction
Life can get dumb, which is why books are so great. They're the perfect place to escape to when you're totally done with reality. So tote around your favorite novel, or peruse a book of short stories, and live someone else's life for a while.
11. Make All Of This A Priority
The most difficult thing about these suggestions is they require an adjustment in priorities. That may mean pumping the brakes on your busy day, and taking a second to relax. As Hannah Braime noted on Lifehack.org, "You can fit self care into your schedule, no matter how busy you are, by deciding it is a priority." So schedule free time into the day, whether that means telling some people no, or canceling a meeting.
You should be willing to do whatever it takes to look after yourself, and occasionally put your needs first. Because when you don't, your health and well-being will fall by the wayside. And that's just not worth it.
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