Despite all efforts to reduce and simplify, my life just seems to get busier as the years go by. My kids are old enough to have activities and social engagements on top of everything I do myself. I live by a pretty strict schedule that allows me to manage household chores, shopping, my job, my freelance work, volunteering, and other projects. Many days I work on my laptop in bed until I am ready to pass out.
But I’m not unique.
Most women live the same way I do: non-stop from the time the alarm goes off (earlier than anyone else’s) until way past the rest of the family has turned in. And honestly, I like it that way. I feel really good about being able to accomplish so many things. But …
Every once in a while I get a reminder about the one thing I consistently neglect: my body. I’ll come down with a killer cold, or pull a muscle in my neck and then I’ll be forced to stop and reassess just how well (or not) I am taking care of myself.
My body is the engine that keeps my life running without a hitch, and like any engine, it has to be properly maintained if I want it to be reliable. What does that translate to in practical terms? This is common-sense stuff, but we can all use a reminder once in a while:
Get Enough Sleep
Your brain simply will not function well without enough sleep. You may think that staying up late is going to help you get a jump start on the next day, but the reality is that if you skimp on sleep, you’re going to have impaired judgment, slower responses, and less ability for creative problem-solving. Your job performance will suffer as will your overall sense of well-being.
Nutrition and Hydration
Your body needs proper nutrition and hydration if you are going to fight off disease and be responsive to all the demands that you place on it. It may take a little pre-planning to make sure you have the fresh fruits and veggies you need, and that you’re drinking enough water—but it is absolutely worth budgeting your time.
I set aside time each weekend to cut and prep veggies for the whole week for salads or quick snacks. And I carry a water bottle with me everywhere I go. Developing these kinds of habits will let you keep your body fueled up without too much expense in time and money.
Sitting in front of a computer all day is just about the most unnatural thing you can be doing with your body. To counteract the physical stagnation that occurs with our modern work life, we need to be out there sweating at least an hour every day. If you’re still unable to squeeze an hour in, try taking a half hour break in the middle of the day and walking around the block, or turn on some music and dance around the living room for 30 minutes. Don’t worry about making signing up for special classes or investing in a workout wardrobe. Instead, focus on being consistent and doing exercise that is effective and enjoyable for YOU.
Rest and Relaxation
No this isn’t a joke. I mean it! You can—and you should—have regular times when you can rest and relax without having to ‘accomplish’ anything. If that means vegging out in front of cheesy movies for half a day, or taking an afternoon off to go lay by the pool then, by all means, make it happen. You don’t need to spend a lot of money or take too much time out of your schedule, but you do need to set it as a priority and make sure nothing else infringes on it.
The thing is, ladies, there will always be more work. Your responsibilities are not going away. Life is not a sprint—it’s a marathon. So make sure you’re able to hold up for the long haul. Don’t put off these things because they are part of the foundation of what makes everything else in your life happen. And yes, we all know it, but we also all need a reminder once in a while.
Take care of yourselves!
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Amanda Quraishi is a writer, blogger, and activist living in Austin, Texas. She works as the Web & Database Administrator for Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a non-profit organization addressing the issue of homelessness in America. For more information on Amanda, visit Amanda Quraishi.com