If you are like most people these days, your life is full of things that need to be done. No matter how much you do, there is always more to be done. There are chores around the house and yard, cooking and cleaning, chauffeuring the kids to their activities, helping them get their homework done, going to work, and on and on. Even friends who are retired tell me they are so busy they wonder how they ever had time to work.
So how do you take care of yourself and rest?
Get enough sleep. This is so important and is often difficult when you have so much to do or perhaps you have a child or partner that does not sleep well. Look at your current sleep schedule. Are you getting enough sleep to function at your peak or just enough to get by? One study showed that people who regularly got 6 hours of sleep per night thought they functioned fine but when tested, responded like people who had been up for twenty-four hours straight.
-Set a regular bedtime for yourself
-Follow a bedtime routine
-Get up at the same time every day
-Limit sugar and caffeine after dinner
-Get hormone levels regulated
-Listen to a relaxation meditation to fall asleep
-Put room darkening shades on the windows of your bedroom
-Take the TV and computer out of the bedroom
-Make sure your bed is comfortable and supports your back
Cut back on demands. Look at all the things you do every day. Make a list and prioritize it. Consider each item on your list. Is it something you love to do? Could someone else do it instead? Could you hire someone to do it? Could you stop doing it altogether? Pare down your commitments to a manageable level. Take time off from work on a regular basis. You are in charge of your life. Design it the way you want it.
Rest when you are tired. Many of us just keep going like the Energizer Bunny even when we know we are tired. Listen to your body and take a rest when you are tired. Otherwise, your brain will become sluggish and everything will take longer to get done. Find a place to lie down and take a 20 minute power nap. Close your eyes and listen to a meditation CD for 15 minutes. When you rest regularly you will avoid getting tired in the first place. And you will get more accomplished despite having taken time to rest.
Get some exercise. Even if you just go for a ten minute walk, it will give your brain a break. When you are always busy, your brain is running on high as well. Just like anything, it needs a break from constantly thinking. While you exercise, your brain will get an increased blood flow. And if you clear your mind while you exercise, your brain will rest, too.
Put ‘Rest’ on your list of things to do. Make it a priority. Stephen Covey calls it ‘sharpening the saw’. When you ignore your own need to rest and rejuvenate it’s like trying to cut wood with a dull saw. Once you put rest on your list, be creative and you will find many ways to rest. Your brain, your health, your stress levels, and the flow of your life will all improve when you do.
Debra Burdick, LCSW, BCIA-EEG, The Brain Lady, owns Advanced Options, LLC, a private psychotherapy and Neurofeedback practice in Waterford, CT. Advanced Options, LLC is the home of the BRAIN FITNESS TRAINING PROGRAM™ which combines outpatient psychotherapy services, Cognitive/Behavioral Therapy and Neurofeedback to help clients of all ages to improve their lives by helping them feel better, think better, and perform at their peak. For more information, please visit TheBrainLady.com.