Written by Sarah
Have you ever felt overwhelmed, unloved, and less than beautiful at the end of a busy day? We’ve all been there. The hectic pace of life sometimes makes it impossible to care for yourself. Most of us know intellectually what we need to do to feel and look our best – drink plenty of water, eat whole foods, get adequate rest, make time for God. Somehow, these seem to be the first things to go during a busy season of life, and it feels like there’s nothing to be done about it. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Today, I’ll share some ways to care for yourself even when it seems impossible to do so.
1. Keep water available, and drink before you’re thirsty. This is particularly important in the summer when it gets hot, but necessary in cooler weather too. Drinking enough water helps keep your skin looking its best and your body functioning as it should, and it keeps you from feeling tired and thirsty and getting a headache. Keep a bottle in your bag, one in your car, and one or more at home and work. If you have it handy, you’ll be more likely to drink it before you’re thirsty. Some people like to check off the number of glasses or bottles they’ve drunk during the day – I’ve seen some creative ways of keeping track on Pinterest – but I know for me, that just feels like one more thing to remember. I know I definitely can feel the difference when I am hydrated, so I try to have some water first thing in the morning and keep going from there. Bonus – having multiple water bottles means one less thing to remember when you leave the house!
2. Take a moment to “get ready”. Even if you just spritz on some perfume or take a quick moment to fix your hair, you’ll feel the difference. I drag a little the whole day if I don’t take the time to transition somehow from night to day – I just can’t function as well if I don’t at least change into a clean tee to go with my yoga pants. This can be really difficult if you have small children and your nights are filled with interrupted sleep, but just a minute of effort can pay big dividends here. I’ve referred more than once to Hallie’s daily uniform, a concept tailor-made for the most chaotic seasons of life. Knowing you can open your closet or dresser and get dressed with little to no thought is truly life-changing. That being said, even a clean set of yoga pants can be the signal your mind and body need to switch into daytime mode and help you feel and function a bit better.
3. Keep the drive-thru in your car. We all know the feeling: you’re tired, hungry, thirsty; out running errands or on your way home from work. You know the rationale behind eating healthy, whole foods, but those brightly colored signs are piquing your overwhelming hunger. Waiting to get home and fix food seems like a ridiculously complicated solution. Sometimes, it just seems like there’s no time to eat healthy. This can be avoided with a little advance planning, though. Keep healthy snacks in your bag and in your car, and be sure to replenish the supply as you eat them. I find this particularly helpful when I’m leaving to run errands with my daughters, since none of us do well when we’re hungry or thirsty. Bringing snacks and drinks makes a big difference! Some great keep-in-the car healthy snacks include dried fruit, nuts, and granola bars – if you’re packing it the same day, you can include baby carrots, apples, string cheese, and your own travel mug of coffee. Prepare yourself to resist the call of the drive-thru!
4. Take time to say “thank you” during the day. During particularly busy days, I often find it impossible to think of anything but what isn’t happening. The laundry isn’t folding itself, the floor isn’t cleaning itself, and no one wants to nap. We didn’t leave the house on time, the traffic isn’t moving quickly enough, and there’s just too much to do. That negative thought pattern drowns out God’s grace in the mundane. I woke up this morning, I have clean clothes to fold and we have a floor. We have a house to leave and a car to drive, the traffic is moving, and we have things to do – which means we are actively participating in life. Even when it seems like nothing’s going right, there are so many reasons to say “thank you”. Cultivating this attitude of gratitude really helps when I feel overwhelmed by the “isn’ts”. It doesn’t have to end with God, either – thank your husband and children, or extend a meaningful thanks to a cashier or server. Be just as quick to notice what’s going right as you are to notice what’s going wrong. It may take a bit to become a habit, but it’s well worth it.
5. Find a way to pamper yourself, and make it happen – often. The word pampering conjures up images of spa days and long afternoons at the nail salon, but it can really be as simple as pouring a glass of iced tea (or a cup of hot chocolate) and taking a few minutes to sip and savor. Even the tightest of budgets can usually find a little wiggle room for things such as a weekly latte, a great-smelling hand lotion, or a magazine you love to read. Maybe you feel most refreshed when you get to spend time with God in Adoration. Identifying what makes you feel pampered and making sure to make time for it can be a huge sanity-saver during the busiest life seasons. If you can plan for a regular pause in the action, you’ll feel better, plain and simple. For me, that pause is first thing in the morning, when I get up and pour myself a hot cup of coffee. I program the coffee maker the night before, which means I can get up to coffee. I instantly feel pampered, and I start looking forward to that cup of coffee the night before.
It may seem counter-intuitive to stop and care for yourself when all other aspects of your life are demanding your time and attention, but it’s impossible to do well at anything else when you’re hungry, overly tired, dehydrated, and stuck in a cycle of negative thought. Add yourself to your to-do list, and make sure you aren’t the first thing to get erased when life gets hectic. Caring for the you on the inside will make you feel that much more beautiful on the outside!
Sarah writes here 2-3 times a month about body image issues, wardrobe tips, new feminism, and more!