We live in a world where more and more is expected of us. The pace of technology has made us “available” 24/7. Our switches are forever in the “ON” position.
When answering the constant call of technology, when do you have time for YOURSELF? In the midst of devoting your daily tasks to your profession and the onslaught of dings, pings, bells, and whistles, what are you doing to recharge YOU?
The notion of caring for YOU is not selfish. It’s healthy. Mentally. Physically. And it benefits those around you in the long-run.
When on a plane flight, the flight attendant will go through a series of safety briefings at the onset of the flight. At one point they will hold up a tube with a plastic mask attached and tell you, “If there’s an unexpected drop in cabin pressure, a mask will drop from above you.” The part that always catches me is the instruction related to children, “If you are traveling with children, put on your own mask, and then put on their mask.”
You can’t help them if you’re passed out. Sorry, stating the obvious here.
Even the airlines recognize and continuously repeat their version of, “It’s impossible to save other when you’re drowning.”
Focus on the Long-Game
Your well-being is directly tied to your physical- and mental-being. Taking time to address the physical needs of your body is part of the “long-game” of life. Taking time for your mental needs is part of the “long-game” of life. We can only survive so long on the natural de facto of youth before age and gravity find and yolk us.
Spending time to engage in some form of physical activity has countless benefits. A realistic physical regimen consists of a set of behaviors that are 1) adaptable to your interests and 2) are habitually integrated into your daily activities.
A brisk walk. A bicycle ride. Going to the gym. Body-weight exercises at home. The list is only as restrictive as your imagination in this regard. The bottom line is, “Just get moving!”
The obvious benefits are improved health. Improved health has a self-return of lesser sick time. Improved health—through exercise—adds natural endorphins to your system and reduce your perception of pain. These endorphins also trigger positive feelings in the body, identical to that of morphine.
Exercise has the added benefit of creativity. Have you ever been exercising and had a creative thought come to mind? Of course, you have.
Giving your mind the freedom to enjoy this meditative state, disconnected from technology, leaves the brain with the opportunity to tap into the creative. Letting your brain revel in the endorphins you are providing—while limiting the onslaught of technology—allows it to flow into the “what if,” the “possibility,” the “problem solving,” the “I can,” the “positive resolve,” or the solution to your “novel dilemma.”
Are you already cringing, waiting for the “get up early and save the world” portion of this article? I will say this quickly so you can go back to breathing and flush the “not again” thought out of your mind. First thing in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. Okay. Let’s move on to reality.
Are you a morning person? No. Never mind then, skip working out, if you don’t exercise super-early in the morning your life is wasted. Yeah, I agree, this is total bunk.
The best time to workout is arguably whenever it fits into your schedule, on a repeating basis, and joins your life as a healthy habit. Again, look at your schedule, find where you can fit in some form of exercise, then plug it into your calendar—keep yourself accountable. Then treat this appointment with yourself the same you would with any other critical-life-changing-business-appointment.
You are your most important client.
Can’t find the time? Well, I can tell you this, if you don’t make the time, the time will be taken from you (that was a little dark and harsh, sorry, just couldn’t erase this after writing it). We’re not talking about running a marathon or being a triathlete. We are talking about keeping active. Did I mention, “You can’t save others if you…” Yeah, I already did.
Just as a runner works up to a longer race (running, hahaha, not this guy), find your exercise niche and work it.
Some of your “mental me” (versus mental-ly) time can definitely coincide with your physical activity (walking, casual bike ride). I tend to find a stream of ideas and the ability to connect story-dots while riding an exercise bike. *On a funny note, it seems that the shower is my second best place for generating ideas (I’m sure there’s a Freudian joke in there somewhere), though I don’t intend on exercising in the shower anytime soon (don’t picture jogging in place, thank you).
Making time to rejuvenate your mind can be as much of a challenge as finding time to exercise. Discovering your own emotionally healthy source of mental regeneration (whew, too many college words there, sorry) is the result of trial and error. What works for Bob or Susan, may not work for you. Hello to the beauty and wonder of individuality. Your challenge is to discover what DOES work for you.
For a time, I dabbled in meditation. As with any other pseudo-productivity junkie, I did it first thing in the morning. I became so good at it that I could fall right back asleep within the first five minutes of breathing deeply. Actually, this was a fail. At some point I will give this another go, I promise.
I’ve actually found that my best mental health time is right before bed; winding down. Preparing my mind for a night’s sleep has to be my best mental ninja move. Grabbing my iPad, lying in bed, and reading (right now: Steven King on Writing or Deep Work by Cal Newport). It depends on how I’m feeling as to which I choose.
Surround yourself with healthy relationships. Cut loose those relationships that zap your physical and emotional energy (sorry, you have to keep your own kids). Individuals with strong family and/or social connections are by and large healthier than those who lack a support network. Take the time to make plans with supportive family members and friends, or find activities where you can meet new people.
Believe it or not, another way to care for yourself is to serve others. Find a way to give back to the community. Losing yourself in service is a great way to stretch your mental (and physical) muscles and is another opportunity to meet like-minded individuals.
As with the physical section, adding this to your calendar and staying true to your appointments with yourself comes into play.
Make the choice to turn off the noise in your life and schedule time with your most important client: YOURSELF! Engage in physical and mental exercises to strengthen your muscle matter and your grey matter. Surround yourself with individuals that build you up and are interested in your well-being; as you are in theirs (serve others).
Lastly, and this is just a suggestion. Eat an Oreo. Go ahead. Have one on me. If you’re feeling crazy, dunk it in milk (you rebel)! Then immediately schedule your next workout session on the calendar (like I wasn’t going to call you out on that!)!