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The truth is that sometimes, to make healthy lifestyle a success, you need a ‘me time’ and indulge once in a while. These 10 self-indulgencies are just what you need when the going gets tough.
Life is tough, from the moment you wake up to the time you lay your head down for a well-deserved sleep. A normal day routine is like this: you wake up in the morning, say your prayers, dash to the bathroom for a quick shower, kiss your children and grab your briefcase- no time for breakfast. You will grab a snack or something on the go, so you thought. But by the time you got stuck in the morning traffic, no time to get that breakfast again, as you must hit the office on time to prepare for an early morning target presentation with your MD. The presentation was challenging as your figures were lower than expected. That is, you didn’t meet your sales and profit targets. The rest of the day was more of factory visits, jumping from one meeting to the other with Creative and Media Agencies, and hardly anytime even to call your wife or husband.
You survived the fulfilling, albeit and exhausting, day at the office and all you want is supper with a glass of red wine, an invigorating shower and bed. Just as your head hits the pillow, your mind starts dwelling on the action points from the day’s presentation and another round of meetings the next morning, the budget cuts on advertising while you still have to deliver the same annual target and bottom line. Or you may be lucky to fall asleep for a few hours, only to wake up in the middle of the night with ten things on your mind. Another sleepless night yet again, but when the alarm goes off, you get up anyway. Your face feels hot and tight and your mental status down to zero.
A valid perception is that whether you have a demanding job or a parent to troublesome set of triplets, or stuck in a relationship with a selfish partner, you always want to be there for others but yourself. Many studies say that feeling overly stressed can have serious health risks, too. For instance one study found that high job demand with an unequaled pay system could potentially double your risk of cardiovascular illness. The study reiterates the fact that the brain produces hormones in reaction to negative stress to deal with emergency situations, called ‘fight or flight' response. But if exposed to chronic bouts of stress, your adrenal glands literally wear out and put you at risk for heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses.
Stress can also affect your memory. Too much cortisol, a stress-bursting hormone, in the bloodstream can inhibit neurotransmitters from performing properly, and result in impaired cognitive performance. One telltale sign you may have produced too much of cortisol is the lost-key disorder. The moment you forget where you put an everyday item, such as your keys, it could be a sign that you are overly stressed, have high levels of cortisol in your body and need to take it easy.
As we continue to live longer, work longer, eat and drink longer, we have to build in self-care strategies to sustain the level of productivity today's world demands. In the spirit of you’re just as worthy as the people you take care of, try some of these self-care strategies so you can be sure of being in control.
1. Buy your favorite seasonal fruit. There is nothing like the taste of a sweet ripe firm mango. Savor the flavor as it lingers on your tongue. Children love mangoes, so on the way to pick up the children, buy some but make sure you set aside a couple for yourself. Galia melon is another fruit I buy as a treat. I look forward to it. Chunky, firm and sweet.
2. Read your favorite book. According to a study, reading just six minutes can reduce your stress level by 68%. It’s believed to be a positive distraction from the world around you, which allows you to release tension in your muscles, especially your heart. I usually keep a nice book in the toilet, on the shelf. Yes I do (smile). Think you don’t like reading? Yes you do, if you’re reading this right now.
3. Put aside one evening a week to your favorite leisure. Whether it’s that dance class you love or a weekly religious discussion group, plan some time to enjoy a leisure, but only if it doesn’t feel like yet another to-do. If that’s the case, plan for some moments of doing absolutely nothing. Think you don’t have time? Think again. One survey states that we have five hours of leisure time at our disposal every workday. There has got to be an hour or two of ‘me time’ in those 35 leisure hours between Monday and Friday.
4. Learn to say ‘no’. Stop being ‘Mrs. or Mr. Do-Good’. If there are times you have to say No to keep your sanity, do so. When you take up more than you can handle, you’re bound to break down. Give yourself some relief by declining a few requests without feeling guilty.
5. Pat yourself on the back! Celebrate that promotion, or breakthrough, by splurging on something that makes you feel good. It need not be expensive, but it should be for you. The next time you go by that perfume store, pick yourself a nice one. Use the perfume as a reminder of your achievement.
6. If you’re having a rough time, write down all the attributes you like about yourself on a sheet of paper or in your diary. Anytime you feel down, take a look at it. You’ll feel better. It’s not absurd to identify your own strengths. Show gratitude for them in an act of self-recognition and admiration.
7. For your next birthday, ask for a day off from your loved ones for an entire day off to do what you want. Ensure you spend your time on you for that day, and not fulfilling everyone else's needs. Check into a 6 star hotel and have a ball. Giving yourself the gift of time is one of the best gifts of all.
8. Get a massage and a facial (2 in one). Heavenly!
9. Watch a good comedy or drama movie. Laughter is good for you.
10. Break your healthy eating for 2 big scoops of Cheesecake Ice cream (or perhaps 3). My favourite is Baskin Robbins brand, or any other brand available, though nothing beats Baskin Robbins; those chunky melting creamy biscuits are so delicious. I savour every spoonful, and then back to my sensible eating for the rest of the week.
Occasionally we have to teach others how to treat us. It might mean reducing activities or delegating tasks to make room for our own needs. Being at the beck and call of others all day can be tiring. As we set limits and give back to ourselves, we are certain to be the best we can be for those we care for.
Photo Credit: Creative Commons.