This weekend Brian and I are moving into our new home. We’re super excited! But, naturally, we’re also stressed.
Moving involves a lot of puzzle pieces, big projects and small but vital tasks, especially when you’re in the midst of making improvements to your new home and making sure the old one is neat and tidy.
It’s during these kinds of transitions and stressful times that self-care can easily — and quickly — take a backseat.
But the more I learn about self-care and how vital it is to my existence, the more I’ve made it a priority in my life, no matter what’s happening.
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Muhammad Talha
The difference is that, today, when things get busier, my self-care gets streamlined. Years ago, it would’ve been eliminated altogether.
Here’s how I’m practicing self-care during an exciting but stressful transition. Maybe these tips will inspire you to think about your personal self-care practices, and how you’d like to navigate hectic times.
I’ve exercised long enough to know that it’s a huge part of my self-care, and it’s absolutely non-negotiable. So I’m making time to attend my favorite classes, walk with my mom and run early with a close friend.
I typically schedule errands and assignments around my workouts. I used to feel incredibly guilty about this.
But I’ve realized that if I don’t engage in physical activities most days during the week, I can’t think straight anyway, and my energy (and mood) sinks.
Getting Enough Sleep
To be honest, this has been a tough one. I feel well-rested after eight hours, at least. Lately, I’ve been getting around six. (I blame cleaning, dishes in the sink, HGTV and “Elementary.”) So on some days I’ve been taking a 15-minute power nap, or additional breaks during the day.
Speaking of breaks, throughout the day, I’ve been taking a few moments to just pause and take a deep breath or two. This helps to quiet my racing thoughts and center myself when I’m in go-go-go mode. Even just closing my eyes for a minute is calming.
Being In the Moment
I’ve been trying to savor the small moments. The shaking of my legs as I’m sprinting. Putting up paint samples on the walls. Laughs at Lowe’s. The delicious dinner my mom made. The small satisfaction of having a few groceries in the house. The bursts of excitement that we’re actually moving. This week. Even the packing.
Eating Easy, Energizing Foods
Brian and I have been running around a lot. We have a mile long to-do list after we’re both done with work. So making time to have a nutritious, relaxing sit-down dinner on the regular, unfortunately, just isn’t an option.
So we’ve been trying to savor nutrients wherever we can, and go with quick and easy. Which means we’re enjoying lots of eggs, pasta, rotisserie chicken (thank you, Publix!), apples, oranges, nuts, bananas and plenty of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (Also, thanks to Publix, there’s been many brownies, too.)
Having supportive relationships is a key part of self-care. Not only do our loved ones provide physical help — like my mom helping me get organized and pack my huge collection of books — but they also offer emotional support.
Just having loved ones present while you’re going through a change or hectic time can make a big, positive difference. Even when Brian and I are tackling different projects — and we’re not in the same room — it reminds us that we’re in this together. (Cracking jokes also a bonus!)
Carving Out Some Routine
When you’re overwhelmed and life feels cluttered and messy, it helps to have some sort of routine to anchor you. I’ve been working during the day at my parents’ house, which is always quiet and comforting. (It’s much better than trying to focus in a house filled with boxes and mold. Don’t ask.)
I’ve also been exercising either in the mornings or evenings. I’ve done the same with running errands (and batching errands in the same area).
This way I can work in specific blocks, instead of multitasking or stopping and starting my assignments (which is really hard when it already takes you time to nestle into your work).
Ultimately, self-care is about self-compassion. So I’ll be reminding myself that I’m doing my best.
I have a tendency to think I should be doing more, more, more. And when I’ve done more, I just up the ante.
This weekend my intention is to lead with kindness, and leave my inner efficiency expert at the door (or at least make sure she’s taking frequent breaks).