Life can be stressful. We are often expected to do far more than what our healthy limits should allow, and we put taking care of ourselves at the bottom of the “to-do” list. I have great intentions to prepare a home-cooked meal every day, exercise daily, play with my daughter nightly, do yoga weekly and meditate every morning. However, in reality I’m lucky if one of these things get’s done each week, let alone daily! I intuitively know all of these activities are good for me, but I simply don’t always make the time.
I know I’m not alone in this conundrum, so here are a few tips that I have learned to follow that help me maintain my sanity from week to week and encourage a healthy routine.
It sounds awful, but it’s true-I don’t always have time in my day to play or engage with my daughter. We are only together briefly in the morning as we rush out the door to school, and some days I don’t pick her up until nearly 6 p.m. from child care which, barely leaves room for dinner, homework and bed. However, we do have some time every night together right before bed, no matter how busy our day is. I read to her for usually 20 minutes and then sing her 2-3 lullabies. I have been doing this since she was a baby, and it is now a routine we both depend on. Not only does it provide us with time together, but it also provides a necessary “out-breath” in our day-a moment to relax and forget the rush of everything else. (This is just as important for those of you without children. Find your own moment for an “out-breath” every day too!) We get to snuggle and enjoy a good story together every night no matter how hectic the day may have been. She is nearly 10, and I wonder how long she will want to continue this routine, as I am sure she will reach an age when it won’t appeal to her any longer. For now, I cherish those precious few minutes at the end of each day.
(Author Update: My daughter just turned 12, and many things have changed in our lives since she is growing older, however, I still read to her every night. We have read many wonderful books together over the years.)
This is an area I wish I was much better at. The nutritional benefits from cooking fresh food every day is invaluable, but it just isn’t always practical. I simply don’t have the time every night to chop, sauté, boil, or shred anything. I do have a few tricks up my sleeve that make me feel a little better:
- Cook Big Portions: When I do have time to cook, I will plan for lots of leftovers. I commonly will make a big pot of soup so we can eat on it all week- it’s great for school lunches too! Stir-fries and casseroles are other great options that re-heat well.
- Recruit the Troops: Kids usually love helping out, especially in the kitchen. My daughter really enjoys picking out recipes and measuring things out. She is also a great chopper. Now that she is a little older, having her help in the kitchen really saves time! She has even made some basic meals all on her own-which she is very proud of!
- Crock-Pot Fun: I recently have gotten into using my crock-pot. It’s a great way to get kids to help in the cooking process- they love piling all the ingredients in and having it cook like “magic.” Having dinner ready for you when you get home is a nice treat.
- Prepared Food: Okay, so we all have to buy already prepared foods at some point. Whether it’s in a can, box, tin or frozen- it just saves time. Some great “healthier” options in stores now feature natural/organic ingredients, free from artificial flavors and additives and low in sodium. I always feel a little better when my “fast food” is at least organic!
Time in Nature:
Finally, one of the most rejuvenating activities we can gift ourselves each week is time in nature. Whether it’s a nearby nature walk through the desert or forest, or the green space provided by a city park, it’s vitally important to our mental wellbeing to connect back to the natural world. I am lucky enough to live in a location where natural areas surround me, and I can tell the difference between my weeks when I take the time to enjoy the natural world and the weeks when I do not. My stress and proneness to anxiety are lower, I am more focused and clear in my work, and I am less irritable- all sure wins!
What is part of your healing routine?