Say No to Go Go Go
6 ways to become part of the self care revolution
We all know that today’s society glamorizes and pushes the so-called benefits of the ‘side hustle’, as it’s called now, and how we should all be doing a million different things, because why not? After all, we can do a zillion things thanks to technology these days. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
But, that’s hypocritical me talking here, who has a full-time day job (office admin), along with…let’s see, one, two, three, four other side hustles? Or maybe they could be classed as hobbies? Not only do I have my day job, but I also teach yoga and meditation one day a week at my workplace to my colleagues, I edit articles on mental health and psychology, I’m a manager of a large Facebook group community to do with meditation, and finally I offer editing services to other Vocal writers for their fiction stories. They are all things I enjoy, but it does sometimes feel that I’m on a computer or staring at my phone 24/7. Oh, and I have a husband to fit in there too (and had a dog that we just said goodbye to on December 15th, 2021).
But as a yoga and meditation teacher, my daily morning routine embodies the self-care revolution to an extent. I’m an early bird (always have been) and have always had a strict bedtime ever since I can remember. I’m rarely up past 10:30 pm, and more likely in bed between 9:30 and 10 pm. During my work week I’m up at 5 am, and on weekends 6 or maybe 7. Only if I'm sick do I sleep in until 8 am or later.
My morning routine is: wake up, drink water and roll out my yoga mat for a morning yoga session to get my body moving for my day ahead, followed by a 10-minute meditation before grabbing my coffee and lunch and heading out the door for my work week. The same applies on the weekend. Up early for yoga and meditation and then on with the rest of my day. I’ve been doing that every day since January 1st, 2016 (that’s 2,176 days as of writing this). It's something I prioritized as a daily resolution after my mom passed away in December 2015. I promised myself I’d do daily yoga as a way to help me cope and deal with my grief. After a year of daily yoga, I decided to become a yoga (and meditation) teacher.
I can’t recommend the benefits of a gentle session of movement and breathing enough, as a way to start your day and give yourself a full-body stretch.
I have a background in psychology (including positive psychology) and neuroscience and so I’ll list below some things you can do to prioritize rest in your life, based in psychology.
1. Don’t multitask
We have a part of our brain called the default mode network (the DMN). It’s kinda the daydreaming setting of the brain. All the stuff that kinda runs in the background, on default. And we might think that we can get more done if we multitask doing a million different things instead of one thing at a time, but actually, our brain doesn’t like that very much and we slow down. We slow down our working pace while switching from one task to another because our brains just can’t instantly switch from one thing to another. There’s a bit of a delay. So while we might feel like we’re hustlin’, in reality, it’s better to just focus on one thing and one thing only until you want to change your focus to a new task, and you’ll be more efficient.
2. Take an afternoon nap after a cup of coffee
We all have different chronotypes. What’s a chronotype I hear you ask? It’s basically when your body naturally goes to sleep and wakes up, and when you’re at your most proactive, when to rest/nap based on your specific circadian rhythms. There are 4 different kinds of chronotypes, often based on 4 animals - you can be a bear, lion, dolphin or wolf. It’s an expansion on the old-fashioned ‘early bird’ vs ‘night owl’, as there are other people that have different schedules.
The Lion is the so-called ‘early bird’ waking at 6-7. Next is the Dolphin at 6:30-7:30 am, the Bear a bit later around 7-8 am and finally the late riser (my husband!) is the Wolf waking optimally between 7:30-9 am.
This is a long-winded way to say: because of these different schedules, you’ll have to work out when the best time is for you to take a power nap in your day. And a good thing to do when you go for a 20-minute power nap is the drink a cup of coffee right before you get into bed (which might sound counterintuitive!) because caffeine takes about 20 minutes to work…and to have the most refreshing nap, 20 minutes is about right so you don’t wake up feeling groggy and like a pile of you-know-what. That way when you wake up, the caffeine will have kicked in to give you an energy boost!
3. Get Outside
The great outdoors can help you relax and slow down to the pace of nature. As famous poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said:
Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
This year has been difficult for all of us. But one thing we can all do (unless in some form of strict lockdown) is get outside in nature. It’s free and unlimited and has the benefits of fresh air, calm, and relaxation. During this pandemic, I was so grateful to have our dog, which we just lost, as a way for my husband and me to get outside for fresh air and walks in parks, on trails and around the neighbourhood.
4. Set Boundaries by saying 'No' more often
This is a big one and a great way to prioritize your self-care, mental health and energy. Many (dare I say most?) of us feel bad saying no to others so…instead, we say yes, to our physical, mental and emotional detriment. But if we start to say no more often when we just aren’t up to socializing after work, or visiting your best friend or going for a weekend trip, our minds, bodies and souls will thank us in the end, instead of leaving us run ragged.
5. Turn off social media notifications
This is another biggie in today’s over-connected world. Taking a social media detox, even a mini one by turning your notifications off can make you feel like you’re on vacation. This goes back to the DMN of the brain in point one. Social media = multi-tasking galore - flicking from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram, and various chat groups you can feel like you’re being pulled in a million different directions and your brain doesn’t have time to catch up (the DMN is slow to react - it's more the turtle than the hare).
Turning off your notifications so you aren’t always ‘on’ and feeling obligated to reply to that Facebook message, text or Instagram comment can give you a mini rest and allow you to focus on what’s important in your life. And more often than not, it’s not whatever is on social media.
6. Make a List of Charge vs. Drain activities
We’re all different so the things that recharge, refresh and renew me is going to be different from what does the same to you. So how do you figure out what you need to do to be your best in 2022 and not have your battery drained? It can be as simple as making a list. This activity is taken from the field of Positive Psychology. Take out your journal (or open a note app) and make a list of activities that nourish you. It might be things like baking, or reading, or doing something creative (drawing, painting, crochet, writing). Then write down everything that does the opposite of nourish and instead drains your energy, your time, your emotions. And then try to do more from the Charge List and not as much from the Drain side.
And last but certainly not least here's a bonus tip:
7. Have a great mattress for a good night’s sleep!
Do you feel like the princess and the pea on a lumpy and uncomfortable mattress? A good night's rest can make all the difference and is the foundation to being your best self and putting your best foot forward into the new year (and onward!). If you're not getting good sleep, then you need to start there. You should get a new mattress every 10 years (shhh, don't tell anyone but I'm a couple years after that!), so you don't start turning into a whiny Princess!
These are just a few tips and tricks (or life hacks as the kids say these days) that you can do to prioritize rest and be the best you can be. Do you have any other tips you want to share on how to recharge your batteries and not feel guilty about taking rest when you need it? Or do you have things you do that help lull you to sleep? If so, I’d love to hear them!