All this week I have been having similar situations pop up where a friend or colleague of mine introduces me to another coworker or someone we both know and the topic comes up of all the things I do and how on earth do I manage it all? Even yesterday as I was on a client call the conversation went to the same theme and as I described my controlled chaotic life I realized that I was not as overwhelmed as I “should be”. As a matter of fact, I don’t even feel stressed at all! (Not until I hear all the things together anyways)
A little bit about what I am currently undertaking:
Mom to 3 boys- 2 teenagers and 1 todder-teen
Work average of 50-60 hours a week- Charge nurse/ Assistant manager/ Unit Educator
Podcast currently growing with my website/blog
Writing articles for allnurses.com
Speak at local events
So this week I want to talk about things I try to focus on to be the best version of myself I can be. These are simple, day to day things I practice which help keep me relaxed, focused, and feeling my best.
Organization- I am not the most organized person but when I organize things in my life it creates a better sense of control for me and allows me to let go of anxiety. I used to be a very anxious person, a constant worrier. Most of this I found was because I was not organized. Once I organized my thoughts, my to-do list, my boxes to check, (things in my life which need to be less complicated) it dropped my anxiety down by a ton.
Calendar in my phone for all family members’ appointments- I prefer google
Outsource what I can - groceries, chores, dinner, cleaning, etc. without breaking the bank www.instacart.com
To-do list/ Journal to organize my things for the day. (Try to fill out the day before if possible)- notes app on my phone or a small plain journal
Meal Plans- printables for the month
Budgeting (has to stay organized)- www.everydollar.com or good old fashioned paper and pencil.
Create routines- at first, had to write out what I wanted my morning routine to look like as well as my night routine. (Helped with me incorporating the next thing- Movement)
Movement- I make myself do 30 minutes of something every single day. This does not mean intense exercise. Whether its a walk, playing with the kids, running, working out at the gym, swimming, riding a bike, something. I make sure to do this every day because I know this will help me feel my best. Some days are more intense, but others are just getting up and MOVING. Regular exercise is linked to better moods, improved energy, fewer injuries, and improved overall quality of life. When I don’t make myself move I get very tired, it’s an opposite effect. The usual recommendation is at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity a week. I’ve linked WHO recommendations for the average adult.
Good Quality Sleep-
I come from a family of nappers (lol), but what happens when we give in the afternoon and take a nap? For me, I end up feeling more tired when I wake up, then I can’t get to sleep on time that evening so I end up staying up late and the cycle continues. The recommended amount of sleep for the average adult is 7-9 hours of good quality sleep.
I try really hard to resist naps in the afternoon when I am home. Unless you can limit your nap to earlier in the day and close to 20 minutes it is best to skip the nap.
I’ve also noticed what I eat affects how I feel directly. When I eat better I have more energy. This leads me to my next point: Food)
By this, I mean a healthy diet. NO, not a diet where you super restrict yourself for a while then jump back into your old habits. A sustainable healthy diet that you constantly are improving. This is a spectrum of wellness, not a destination. Everyone’s version of a better diet is different. What is one thing you could do today to improve what you are eating? Then each day build upon that little by little. Any change takes time and in order to be sustainable, it needs to be the choices you make and the mindset you create around it. For me, I was able to lose a little weight by making these changes however I FELT a lot better by doing so.
In order for me to be successful, I have to make small simple changes over time. Usually each meal I try to keep it limited to a protein, a healthy fat, green leafy veggies, and fiber. Now, do I follow this 100% all of the time? I do not. But it is a huge improvement from what I used to put in my body so my body thanks me for it.
I used to journal about my diet- paying attention to how I felt such as mood swings, energy level when I felt truly hungry, my stress levels, and when I would aimlessly look for a snack. This helped me create a plan for what worked best for me as well as to discover motivation to why I wanted to eat better. One thing I found to be true= The better I eat = The better I feel in all those areas.
Are you noticing a trend here? How simple these changes are? Now, depending on your health situation you may have different recommendations so please make sure to follow the advice of your provider. However, for most healthy individuals the daily recommendation for water intake is half of your weight in ounces. For example, I weight 160lbs (down 20 go me, yay). So half of that is 80 and that's how many ounces I should try to drink in a day.
Do I always do this? No. But when I do I’ve noticed a few things: My cravings go away, I don’t look for “snacks” throughout that day that I don’t need, and my mood is better. I know those of you currently in health care now think this is crazy and how could I possibly drink that much water, I don’t even have time to pee? This is where I can tell you, it can be done! You can find time for water and bathroom breaks if you make it a priority. Trust me, I’ve been there, I was the nurse who would go all day without water and not realize why I had a horrible headache by the end of the day. Then realize I hadn’t been to the bathroom either. I would honestly be curious as to how many nurses develop chronic constipation and kidney stones from holding their needs all day. You aren’t doing anyone any favors by neglecting yourself! Remember in nursing school Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? What was at the foundation? Food, water, clothing, air, shelter, homeostatic processes (bathroom). I tell all my new nurses you have to take care of yourself first before you can even think of taking care of others. Do not be a martyr.
Learn to say no-
I know when I am doing too much, because even when I have all the other things in place I start to feel stressed and worried. By listening to my body, emotions, and moods I can hear the message it’s telling me. This took practice and I am constantly improving this. The art of saying no does not come overnight, and sometimes I am tempted to give an explanation but this is not necessary. A quick, “no thank you, I can’t” will work. We are not superheroes and cannot do all of the things. NO can be one of the most powerful words you will ever learn to use.
Practice “Quiet Time”-
In my chaotic life, I have learned how and when to practice my quiet time. What did you use to enjoy doing when you were a kid? How did you express your creative outlets? Whether it’s reading a book, listening to a podcast, painting, or writing I incorporate these things a couple of times a week, even if it’s in small doses.
Podcasting- creating and listening
Outdoors as much as possible
I also do a social media unplug on a regular basis as well. This helps me not get overwhelmed with all of the negatives social media can bring while also allowing me to still feel connected to others on my own terms. I can refill my cup and is inexpensive to no cost at all.
Lastly, set goals and do the things to get you there-
Make a list of all the things that are most important to you that you would do if you had nothing holding you back. You can have a BEING goal and a DOING goal. A being goal is one related to who you want to become. A doing goal is something you want to accomplish. Some of these can be big things like taking a big trip or going back to school while others can be smaller like a monthly family day trip somewhere or a weekly outing with friends. Then, make it a habit to do these things more often or take steps towards them. If it’s a big trip, set small goals towards that trip to make it more of a reality. If it’s going back to school, start the first steps of looking at possible schools you would be interested. When I make goals and plans related to what is important to me I give myself more things to look forward to. This helps keep my daily chaotic life in check because I know that I need to do the hard things in order to do the fun stuff. I can better handle a stressful situation or brush things off that really are not important because I have a bigger perspective. Keep your goals large and your mind open and the daily stresses won’t seem as much.