I’ve honestly been in one of the busiest time periods of my life, even the new motherhood stage. With two teenagers at home and building my business and juggling multiple clients I have not had much spare time. I’m also now helping to care for my parents, both now in their 80s. Parenting teens is a busy and wonderful time. It’s all manageable but I’ve had to say no to some things. (Like this blog…sorry blog!)
I’m no self-care expert, but there are steps I’ve taken over the past few months that have helped me. I hope they help you, no matter what stage of life you are in. Here are some self-care tips to help you navigate some of life’s busier times.
Self-Care Tips for the Sandwich Generation
1. Just say no. Saying no to the self-imposed pressure to “keep things up” or “keep things going” feels good people! If you’ve always been a very active volunteer at your kid’s school or at work or at church or in the community and you need to say no for a while, it’s OK. Tell the guilt monster to take a hike. As a people pleaser, this is very difficult for me, but I’m learning. Saying no doesn’t mean you are lazy, incapable of juggling a million things or any other negative connotation.
2. Get lots of sleep. I probably get more sleep than ever. My husband turned me on to an app called Sleep Cycle that’s pretty enlightening. I can see what bad eating habits affect my sleep (I’m looking at YOU chocolate at 9 p.m.) and how stress does as well. I use the free version, which I find helpful, but there is a more in-depth paid version of the app. I’ve also taken this cool quiz to determine what type of sleeper I am based on research from Dr. Michael Breus, author of The Power of When. I’m a dolphin. If you know me, you won’t find this surprising at all as I’m all over the place AND a very light sleeper. I also sleep with an eye mask on and ocean sounds playing. Yep, I’m kind of high maintenance when it comes to sleep but I’m telling you, it’s a HUGE foundation for my well-being. If mama is tired, well it’s pretty well downhill for the day.
3. Take supplements. I take a daily anti-stress supplement and I can honestly tell when I have skipped it. I also usually take melatonin at night. There are also a lot of great teas on the market that I would consider more supplemental than just “hey this tastes great.” Experiment with different varieties at night to help you chill out. I’ve given up drinking for Lent and it’s helped me tune into what really helps me relax at night.
4. Get outside. I work a LOT at my desk, on the computer (s), on my phone. Sometimes I just need to take a breather, even if it means going to the mailbox, kicking off my shoes and walking barefoot in the grass or sitting in the sun for 15 minutes. I’m pretty sure none of us are getting the optimum Vitamin D we need, which can lead to all sorts of issues. Even when I was working at an agency last year I would take about a 10 or 15-minute break and walk outside, if it meant going on the rooftop or being that weirdo lady walking laps in the parking garage.
5. Move. I’ve been taking some yoga classes and not only are they helping me with my back issues, but they force me to spend an hour doing nothing but concentrating on poses and breathing. You may hate gyms and group exercise classes but love to dance. Who says you can’t have a dance party in your living room? Be sure to stay active, especially if you work at a desk.
6. Laugh. Laughter really is the best medicine. I am all for binge-watching The Office or watching a Will Ferrell flick on Netflix. Go out with friends to see a comedy show or the latest comedy on the big screen. Laugh at yourself as well. Don’t be so busy that you forget how to be silly, especially with your kids…no matter what age they are!
7. Diffuse essential oils. Right now I’m diffusing a “morning bliss” blend in my kitchen and it smells amazing. There are so many great essential oil products on the market right now and a blend (or single oil) beneficial for any time of day.
8. Take a hot bath or long hot shower on the daily. If you work from home, like me, you may be tempted to SKIP THE SHOWER. Come on, you know I’m right. Always take a hot bath (best) or long hot shower and treat yourself to some amazing bath products while you’re in there. If you’re kids are past the Elmo or Barbie bubble bath stages, however, you realize your teenagers will likely borrow your products.
9. Get outta Dodge. I’m a big believer in travel. Sometimes you can’t take the time off to jump on a plane or even go on a road trip. Go for a drive in the country or take a new route home from work or school. A change of scenery will do wonders for your soul. Consider booking a local Air BnB for a staycation.
10. Stay organized. Don’t fall behind. As a professional multi-tasker I tend to shut down if shit starts getting too real and I’m overwhelmed. I use a paper planner now (I know!) and I also email myself a reminder/to do list every night so I’m using an electronic type reminder system to back up the traditional system. Our family also uses the Any List app for our ongoing grocery list and household to do’s list. I’m also a fan of Google calendar and using different colors for each family member. Right now a paper planner is working for me. This can be a fluid technique. Different planning and scheduling methods work better at different life phases.
11. Delegate. If you need to use a grocery delivery service or pay someone to mow your lawn, then by all means do it. Think about your ROI (Return on Investment), not only monetarily but as far as your time. Time, especially if you run your own business, is money.
12. Unplug. Sometimes you just need to turn notifications off on your phone, or hey why don’t you go ALL OUT and just turn that sucker off for the afternoon. Go for a walk, take a nap, browse at the library, peruse your favorite local boutique, pet your dog. Just “be” for a little while. If turning your phone all the way off makes you anxious, try the Calm app (but turn all your notifications off.) Everything will still be there when you get back online. Trust me. There was life before the Internet.
Do you have any self-care tips? If you are smack dab in the middle of OMGsobusydom I feel ya!