You Are A Priority
We should be making ourselves a priority every day; however, the stark truth is we often take care of everything else before we take care of ourselves. Why? Because it seems so important to schedule an appointment, clean the bathroom, catch up on emails, or do just about any little thing on our “To Do” list before taking time to help ourselves. Yet, how are we supposed to manage it all when we are exhausted, dehydrated, distracted, and living on fast food? This is why we are kicking off a series of posts over the next six weeks focused on making you a priority.
It is impossible to start every day as our best selves if we are not caring for ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. Putting ourselves first is not a selfish act. In fact, it’s necessary, especially if we want to achieve our goals and enjoy the journey. Think of planning a dream vacation to a destination at the top of your travel list. For me, it would be Tahiti. Now imagine working the three weeks prior to the trip without getting more than 4 hours of sleep each night, living on take out food while working long hours, barely managing to keep yourself awake during the evening carpool with your kids, and completely neglecting your home because there is just no more time. You manage to pack your bags 4 hours before your flight, make it to the airport with just enough time to get through security, can’t remember if you turned off the coffee machine, and don’t sleep a wink on the flight because of turbulence. Once you land in Tahiti, the rest of your family is ready to get to the hotel and start seeing the sites. All you want to do is climb into bed, but you can’t disappoint everyone so you head to the beach where you fall asleep in the sun and get a nasty burn. See where I’m going with this? How are you supposed to enjoy achieving the goal of being on your dream vacation when you’ve completely neglected yourself making the experience much less than fun?
Life is supposed to be enjoyable. We are not meant to stumble through each day wishing we were less exhausted and more productive. We are meant to thrive and there are some simple self care steps we can take to ensure we’re setting ourselves up for feeling our best. The first is to get a good night’s sleep. Our bodies require rest to rejuvenate. Many times we forego sleep proudly like it’s a badge of honor. We show up at work declaring, “I only got 3 hours of sleep last night, but I’ll be fine after coffee.” The truth is you may be fine for that day or that morning, but repeatedly denying your body the rest it needs is not positive self care.
Recharge & Refuel
If you search online for ways to get better sleep, you’ll find so many sites and blogs with all sorts of solutions focusing on everything from the scent in your bedroom to the amount of screen time you have prior to retiring for the night. There are so many factors which may contribute to improved sleep quality or quantity. It may seems like you need to find your magic formula with just the right ingredients to bring about restful sleep.
I’m here to say there is no magic formula and there are no specific steps you need to take to catch some zzz’s. The truth is you need to make sleep a priority and keep it a priority. I worked the night shift for very many years in a high stress environment. Still, I managed to sleep like a baby most days. The key was going to bed when I arrived home because I was tired. I did not try to clean anything up in the house or prepare meals for the next day, I just went to sleep. Now, I know we all don’t have the luxury to come home every day and fall into bed. There are things we all need to do to keep ourselves, our families, and our careers progressing. However, there is a time to say to yourself, “I’ve done enough today. I can continue tomorrow.” It is perfectly appropriate to recognize when we need to pause and recharge.
Think of a toddler. They like to play and play and play until they can barely keep their eyes open. I know my son, who will be 3 years old in a few weeks, always wants to play with his cars and race instead of taking a nap or sleeping for the night. When I get him to calm down and sleep finally, he wakes up in a different state of mind. After he naps I’ll ask him, “How do you feel now that you’ve slept a little?” He usually answers, “Good. Can I race my cars now?” I tell him he can race his cars and I give him a reward for taking a nap because I want to teach him the importance of slowing down, recharging, and then returning to an activity feeling like your full self instead of the exhausted person you were prior.
It’s the same principle for us as adults. There comes a point in the day where we can’t continue to work at the same level of speed and accuracy as our rested selves because we are exhausted. Our battery is drained and we need to invest the time to recharge. So how do we get good quality sleep each night so we can show up as our best selves in the morning? Here are a few of my favorite tips:
Limit the caffeine. I stopped drinking coffee and/or tea. I love coffee, but I used to feel I needed 2 or 3 cups to get through the day. Plus, I was jittery. Now, I drink an herbal or decaf tea in the morning and I’m able to be productive without the highs and lows of caffeine. I still love coffee and I’ll indulge in a cup once in a while, but I’m no longer relying on a latte to get me through the day.
Create an “Oasis Space” in your bedroom. I painted my bedroom a soothing shade of gray, hung blackout drapes, and decluttered until I felt like my bedroom was an escape from the everyday hustle. I love going into my bedroom at the end of the day. It feels like a special place where I can put my “To Do” list to the side and take a mini-vacation from it all. Bonus: I make my bed every morning, so I come back to a cozy retreat every night.
Plan ahead for the next day. There have been times when I’ve found it difficult to fall asleep because my mind was busy going over the next day. Mentally I was preparing for the appointments on my calendar, my tasks at work, what I was going to pack for lunch. I was able to give my mind a much needed break by putting myself together for my next day before calling it a night. I’d pick out my outfit, pack my work bag, and have my lunch assembled in the fridge so I knew I was ready to conquer the next day. All I needed to do was wake up, shower, and leave for work. It gives you peace of mind as you close your eyes and makes your morning routine go off without a hitch.
If you feel like you are overwhelmed and it has been a very long time since you experienced a good night’s sleep, I’d recommend you try these tips. They are easy to start implementing today. Try cutting back on the caffeine to start, straightening up your bedroom a bit, and picking out your clothes for the next day. Those few strategies take only minutes during your day and may have a large impact when practiced for a few days in a row. After about a week, take a look at your progress and see if sleep is coming a little more easily.
Have a great tip for getting restful sleep? Share it in the comments below. I love hearing from readers who have found success in making rejuvenation through sleep a priority.