You’re worth your time

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Take a break from life’s hubbub to be still, chill out or do something that makes you happy.

You work hard. You take care of folks you love. You have a dozen irons in the fire. When you think of all you juggle, remember that instead of tennis balls, you’re managing to keep an apple, a chainsaw, a kitten and a flaming stick of dynamite in rotation in front of your face. Life is crazy busy. Each of the facets you look through demands your complete attention, work, family, home, side hustle. It’s easy to see how fun, rest and exercise get pushed to the back burner.

Some days, fun takes the shape of a good book or a dance in the living room, a walk and snuggle with furry friends or creating something delicious in the kitchen. It’s amazing to see how little things we love can add the fuel we need to make the rest of life feel lighter.

Taking a break from the hubbub of necessity, however, is just as important as the paycheck. It can cost nothing and be priceless simultaneously. We teach our kids the Big 5: Get rest, drink water, eat vegetables, take vitamins, move your body. Some are easier than others, but without all of them, some part of you will suffer. Why then are they the first things to fly out the window when life gets crazy? Most of all it comes down to choice. The ultimate freedom is choosing what you’ll do.

If we took time every day, no kidding, each and every day, to give something to ourselves, all of the things seem easier. The amount of time we spend on taking a moment is not important—the key is holding ourselves in high enough esteem to take those moments.

“It isn’t selfish to take care of yourself,” says Deborah Sheehan, a licensed clinical social worker who works in Yarmouth. “If you let your body be stressed, it can lead to depression.” Just changing your thinking about how you treat yourself, mind and body, can give you the freedom to embrace little nuggets of time that refresh your perspective.

“Schedule it in,” Sheehan says. “Make it a conscious choice to spend 10 minutes twice a day on mindfulness. It can be as simple as breathing, sitting still and letting your mind rest. The first few minutes after you wake up and the last few before you go to sleep are a perfect place to start. You can see immediate improvement in your mood. It can help your relationships; you can be more present for your kids (or your friends) and be a good model. When they see you doing something for yourself, they will think it’s OK for them too.”

Moving your body and resting your mind can happen simultaneously. When you take a walk, let your monkey mind eat a banana. The distraction will have him sitting still with his mouth full. He’s happy. You’re happy. Your mind can sigh in relief and if all you do is think about breathing in and out, you’ll return refreshed and ready to ease into the next thing with new energy.

“It’s all about the body affecting the mind,” says Sheehan. “The biomechanics of physical movement improve your mood. Build it into your lifestyle. You’re better able to function in stressful times if you move your body.”

It’s possible to multi-task the self care into your day. Change is good. Willingness to try something new breaks the monotony and injects fun. Walk a different path. Shuffle your music. Try a new grocery store or recipe—you’ve got to eat, might as well make it interesting. Turn left instead of right to get home. Live with your eyes open and off the screen. There is so much to see and do for yourself that shakes up routine tasks and gives you a day filled with your own choices. Take the extra few minutes a day for yourself. You’re so worth it.

Cynthia Finnemore Simonds loves to cook good food, bring people together and write about how squishing life’s lemons make a fantastic cocktail. www.facebook.com/mindfulmouthful

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