As modern day women, we can all relate - juggling a career, kids, housework and a relationship is a tough gig! In the midst of the day to day chaos, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself.
The thing is, when we’re not taking care of ourselves we actually become less efficient at juggling all those elements of our lives. One of my favourite sayings is from Eleanor Brown: “You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” To be truly present in each and every moment, and to serve those around you (whether at work or at home) you need to have ‘filled’ yourself up with all the essential ingredients for wellness: nutritious food, physical movement, sleep, love, and joy. How do you manage this when you’ve got 2 weeks worth of washing to catch up on and you’re running on coffee to keep you going? Read on for a few of my favourite ways to stay healthy when life just won’t slow down.
Put the kids to bed earlier
Are you still wrangling your kids into bed at 10pm? Bed time is often such a stressful time for so many parents, and stress is the last thing you need at the end of your day. In fact, stress before you go to bed will affect your entire nights’ sleep! Children need sleep and they need an earlier bedtime than their parents. Don’t think you’re doing them a favour by giving in to their tantrums and tears - read them a story and leave them to go to sleep. I know it’s not easy, but it’s a step you need to take to reclaim your own health and energy!
Change the way you drive
Here’s a great thought - what if you left just 3 minutes earlier each morning, and you could relax in the car on the way to work/school/child care/wherever. Imagine not holding every muscle in your body tense while you drive! What a nice start to your day. Just 3 minutes earlier than usual, and you can drive knowing that you have enough time to get there on time no matter how many red lights you get.
Another tip for driving - listen to music that relaxes and soothes you. Studies have shown that loud, fast music makes you drive faster, increases your heart rate and heightens your nervous system (in other words, it’s kind of stressful to your body!). If you’re anything like most mums, you spend all day in a stressful state, so put on some calming music, leave 3 minutes earlier, and make your drives a time for you to wind down and breathe.
Try a smart wake-up alarm
Have you heard of those cool alarms that wake you up when you’re in your lightest phase of sleep? When you’re asleep there’s a few different cycles you go through, some of them are deeper sleep than others. Your lightest sleep cycle is called Phase I, and there are some alarm clocks that are able to analyse your breathing pattern to determine which phase of sleep you are in, and wake you up at the best time - usually Phase I. Have you every noticed that some days you wake up gently and quite easily, whilst other mornings you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck when your alarm goes off in the morning? Try a smart alarm and you can avoid those ‘hit by a truck’ mornings. The alarm clocks are also available as smartphone apps, just search in the app store. (PS. Make sure your phone is set to flight mode if you’re sleeping with in under your pillow, you don’t want to be exposed to high levels of radiation all night.) A good start to the day usually brings a good day!
Cook and freeze in advance
Cooking large portions and storing in the freezer is the oldest trick in the book, but it’s a really great way to ensure that you always have something quick and healthy on hand. Don’t know if you’ll find the time to have a cooking day to freeze a whole lot of meals? Try cooking a little extra each night at dinner time and freeze the leftovers. This saves you a heap of time and also means that you’ll have a variety of different meals in the freezer to defrost and reheat on those nights you just can’t bear the thought of preparing dinner from scratch. Being prepared means you’re less likely to rely on take-away foods.
Utilise the benefits of superfood powders
A superfood powder, I hear you say? What on earth is that? Basically, it’s a cheats way of getting a whole lot of essential vitamins and minerals into your body easily and quickly. My favourite brand is Vital Greens, but there are plenty of different ones out there. You can get greens-based powders, or even beetroot-based or fruit-based! Don’t be afraid to give them to your kids, too. By having a dose of superfood powder in the morning, you know that no matter what happens during the day at mealtimes, you’ve had a little boost of nutrition to start you day off right. With soil depletion a real issue in agriculture and the uncertainty over how long fruit and veg are stored for before you buy it, the nutritional content of much of what we eat is significantly lower than what it was 20, 30 or 40 years ago. Superfoods powders are not to be relied on as your only source of nutrition, but they’re a great way to add extra goodness to your day. You may find that you have more energy, better moods and clearer skin with regular intake of your superfoods, too!
Move with your kids
Don’t have time to exercise? Exercise with your kids. Go to the park and practice soccer with them. Wash the car together or go out and walk the dog. Did you know just 15 minutes of exercise each day significantly reduces your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and many other chronic diseases? Physical activity is also a great way to reduce stress and low blood pressure. Don’t wait for half an hour of free time to magically appear so that you can go for a walk - you have to make time to exercise and move your body!
Make your health a priority!
Ultimately, you need to make the decision to make your health a priority. Do you want to be there to watch your children grow up, get married, and have children of their own? Do you want to be fit and healthy enough to play with your grandchildren and enjoy every moment with them? Don’t wait until your 50s or 60s to start thinking about health and looking after yourself. Everything that you do each and every day is paving the way to your future health (or lack of). Be a role model for your children and teach them how important their health is by making your health a priority. And remember, you cannot serve from an empty vessel. When you take care of yourself, you’ll find that you have more energy and clarity of mind, and suddenly everything else that you are juggling doesn’t seem so hard.
Dannielle Archer is a qualified naturopath and passionate blogger who lives in Adelaide, Australia. Her website, Little Miss Moderation teaches people all around the world about the importance of maintaining a healthy relationship with their health and the food they eat. You can follow Little Miss Moderation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Subscribe to LMM for yummy recipes and all the latest blog posts!