I woke up dreading the day and the tasks that lie ahead. Several thoughts creep into my mind – job concerns, family issues, relationships gone sour, my landlord’s demands and my child’s teacher and her shenanigans? With all earnestness I jump out of bed and the ball juggling kicks off full time! By the time I take a peek at the clock its midday and I realize that I’ve sent my children to school, taken over a dozen high emotion calls dealing with customers, suppliers and a sick relative and here am I agonizing over a report bound for late submission!
As I enter the convenience, a look at the mirror confirms my worst fears- I look done in, with dull acne filled skin, tired eyes, rough nails and (shame facedly too)the starting’s of body odor because in my rush I forgot to use my deo! Whoa.
I knew I needed to do something but I wasn’t sure of the when or what. I was still dilly dallying when on Valentine Day (of all days!) my teenage son told me the hard truth:
“Mum, he said, “you look worn out and old”. I was badly shaken and angry at myself for having ignored me and my needs.
That was my tipping point. That day I resolved to do something every day for ME and ME only. I got my DJ friend to put together my favorite artists on CD with copies to play at work, car and kitchen and I loved the way I felt after. So I resolved to start this journey all by myself and for myself. Today I can say I am more cheerful, sleep better and my world view has become bright. Then surprisingly the compliments started coming- from my hubby, my colleagues and even strangers.
Taking care of the machine (me!) that takes care of others is paramount. And so after much pressure from friends I decided to share my thoughts and practices on this Me renewal journey. So here goes:
1. LEARN TO PAUSE
Don’t accept invitations, requests immediately you hear them. Instead pause and use words like Can I call you back, I’ll think about it. The pause gives you time to think through the invite and requests and to decide what’s best for you.
2. TAKE DEEP BREATHS
While at work, one of the simplest relaxing techniques you can easily do is to take deep breaths. Try to give yourself a kind of target like taking a deep breath once you send a document to print for example. Or wriggle your toes each time a request requires a phone call.
A stretch while seated or standing does a lot for you. It gets blood moving, your heart thumping and your feel good hormones rushing. You can do some exercises at your desk like the ones listed at truefitness.com and greatest.com. These exercises help you keep steady focus whilst providing a form of casual recreation.
4. EAT RIGHT
Eat foods that are healthy and are geared towards enlivening you. Go for vegetables and fruits either frozen or fresh (though fresh is best). Think of salads with the rainbow built in. You can provide your cooked portion of the meal with quinoa, couscous, rice(brown), yam (yes Yam!) guinea corn, chicken or even fish. I don’t know about you but I noticed that when I eat right I’m full of energy, positive and my will power stays high. Drink water: tons of it. After all the goal here is a better you and one sure way to that is proper hydration.
5. TALK TO THYSELF
I’ve formed the habit of talking to myself especially when the stress levels sky rocket and I’m confused. I know it sounds weird but according to a Professor of Psychology at University of Michigan, Mr. Ethan Kross, self-talk boosts our ability to see issues more objectively*. So hearing my own voice kind of like eases my stress, gives me better insight, empowers me and I’m able to think better. There are so many benefits of self talk some of which are listed here.
Make a print out (in bold of course) of all the encouraging words you know that makes you happy and you can tell yourself and paste beside your bedroom dresser or bathroom mirror or better still key it into your phone and use as a screen saver.
Hey it’s ok to do something or eat something that you do not ordinarily. You can decide to take the day off (if you are the boss) and pamper yourself. Yes, I mean it – go the whole hog: get a pedicure, get your face done and hit the photo studios, get together with some old classmates and tour the cinemas armed with your soda bottles and popcorn. Be a little child again. Spend time with your children. Visit the Spa and get a massage. Go for that church event you’ve been longing for.
Go shopping (even if you’ll be buying only that red lipstick you saw on the billboard). Get a new haircut like that of Davido. Watch the whole session of a sporting activity from start to finish. Do something that’s fun even if Its only for an hour!
7. GET CHARITABLE
Share with the needy what you have. You can visit the Cheshire homes in your locality or chat with the beggars at the junction. Share a joke at the buka. Give a smile to everyone you meet even if there’s nothing to smile about and watch your mood lift despite your circumstance. Give out items in your wardrobe you’ve not used in the past one year! That way you get to tidy your wardrobe, tune into the latest trend and put grateful smiles on someone’s face.
8. RECHARGE YOUR BATHROOM ROUTINE
Hey this article is all about the newly improved you right? So improving our bath and beauty routine is sooo important! Check your skin for age spots, roughness, lines, acne, beard stubble whatever and map out strategies to tackle them. Check your bathing sponge, toothbrush in fact check out everything involved in your intimate self care and renew them. Nothing beats the feeling of knowing that what you are doing is right for you. Change the style of your beard and hair. Get a dental check and revamp your smile. You can actually ask for teeth whitening!
9. EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE
Make a move or in our local parlance ‘shake body’ Exercise of different types targets different body parts. For desk bound employees exercise seems to be out of question but then there are different exercises you can comfortably carry out while you are at your desk even if you are the customer service rep of your organization. These exercises are described in detail by DR AXE here can be modified to suit your work place.
Chair exercises as described here is of benefit to all even the non-exercising You can also follow these habits as a sneaky way to incorporate exercises into your daily routine: park far-away from your office block, that way you get to do some walking; use the stairs; see your colleagues in person for whatever you need; take a walk and buy your own lunch.
10. WATCH SOMETHING, LISTEN TO SOMETHING
At home or at the Cinema, TV has this wonderful numbing ability that is recommended at times. From TOM & JERRY to FAST & FURIOUS and everything in between, there are loads of cartoons, reality shows, movies, comedies, documentaries you can enjoy in the privacy of your home thanks to pay TV. Or if you are a music lover there are tons of ways you can enjoy music on the go or at home or work.
I was at a bank last week and tempers were getting high due to delays arising from system issues, a fast customer service rep just changed the news channel to a cartoon channel and behold the quick tempers ebbed and there was relative peace while we waited on the queue!
In these days of super-fast internet and ever evolving technology, all kinds of devices are now available for playing music: from torches, phone, IPOD, different brands of tablets and the big guys of music; the stereo systems. Check out the program on your local radio stations for broadcast times of your favorite music genre.
11. REFRESH YOUR HOBBY
No matter who we are, we all must have at least one hobby. For me, taking cartoons out of newspapers and magazines and using it for a scrap book is one sure way of putting off my anxiety and having a good laugh too. Whenever I’m stressed I remember one of those cartoons and you’ll see me smile.
Take your pet for a walk, water your plants, do some crocheting. Fine tune that your new recipe for meat pie and enjoy with your friends and neighbors. Go out with the guys and have a blast. Tinker with your new device and try to understand how it works. This can save you some stress later on too!
Keep a date with yourself and get active on social media. Keep tabs on soccer scores for a whole season and be the go-to man on sporting info for your office.
12. GO FOR A WALK
With your loved one or on your own. There’s something uniquely relaxing when you walk bare foot on a freshly moped smooth floor or on damp grass. Carry your music with you (careful though with ear phones, they can block out other sounds).
Take your time to look for funny stuff as you go: like the write up on trucks / tankers and buses (This one still makes me laugh- this is the okuko house! Describing in mixed language the chicken basket attached to the diesel tank of a 911 Truck). Saw it on my way to Enugu.
A walk through the neighborhood invigorates you letting you get some sunshine and refreshing breeze. A word of caution though- walking in your work outfit or in heels is a no no. Flat comfy shoes like sneakers or sandals are ok. Don’t forget to hydrate while on the move –carry your water. Be security conscious while you are at it as certain neighborhoods are not safe for walks.
13. CLEAN YOUR SPACE
Clutter has this unnerving thing that robs you of your gaiety leaving you feeling stressed out. Suddenly you have visionary noise and items that are of no inherent /immediate value take up residence in your view.
Clutter contributes to the buildup of stress hormones in addition to the regular everyday stress leading to a feeling of disorganization, negativity, unproductivity and helplessness. To combat this effect, take bold steps to declutter your office, closet, kitchen, even your car booth (Am I talking to someone?). Remember that one man’s trash is another’s treasure so methodically attack the clutter. You can elect to declutter say on first Saturday of each month. All the items you do not need can be donated to charity or carefully wrapped and given to the trash companies and when you are done enjoy the fresh clean space you‘ve created and take pictures of before and after as a reminder of the good work you’ve done.
Learn to let go of hurts, nasty comments, degrading stances and sheer wickedness meted out to you by family, friends and colleagues. Ignore the crazy driving antics you meet on the road. Refuse to comment on the thoughtless gabble of an irate client. Ditch the past and move on. Remember forgiving and forgetting (lest I forget) sets you free, suppresses your feel bad hormones and gets you closer to your Creator. It also declutters your brain allowing you to concentrate on the things that are important meaning you’ll concentrate better at work enhancing your career, relationships or business.
15. WHAT OF YOUR SHUT EYE?
Regular sleep is essential for our wellbeing and more so for the one helping others! In our modern society, sleep robbers like late nights, stress, uncomfortable bedroom environment, noise and wrong dining habits take away our precious zzzz leaving us irritable, disorganized and unproductive.
Your sleep quality depends lot on your bed time habits. Factors like your dinner and its time, your bedroom, medications you take, your emotions as you go to bed, electronic devices at your service can make or mar your sleep. So what to do? Get help! A lot of resources are available on the web, in church your local community and yes in your home to help you get the your highly prized sleep.
Improving your bedroom by decluttering it, creating a sleep routine and informing your household of your need will go a long way to getting you your much needed night rest.
Writing down your feelings or events of the day may feel like a chore when you are already stressed out and still have loads of home issues to tackle! But it is actually refreshing and relaxing if you put your mind to it.
Keeping journals helps you to key into your emotions, process your reactions and gain focus and clarity on issues begging for your attention. Journaling may seem like exposing your inner self but remember that the journal is for your eyes only, and so judging your prose, or what should be in the journal is completely out of it! Set out a time and place for writing when you’ll have no interruptions and you are most comfortable.
Invest in a beautiful journal in your favorite color and any other characteristics that appeal to you. You can even make it a notch more special by dropping your favorite essential oil or perfume on the center page. You can set an alarm with your favorite music as a reminder and give your journal a befitting title. Yes, sir a title. This, after all is serious business. That way you’ll have better memories of your ‘ME TIME’.
Aromatherapy, according to Wikipedia, is the practice of using plant materials and aromatic plant oils, including essential oils and other aroma compounds for improving psychological or physical wellbeing. Aromatherapy can be a complimentary therapy or a form of alternative medicine.
Essential oils, the foundation ingredients for aromatherapy, are known to have detoxifying, calming, antibacterial and stimulating properties.
Some DIY Aromatherapy you can try at home:
- Create a calming ambience for your home at the end of the day using aromatic candles.
- Freshen up your living room furniture with a few drops of your favorite essential oil.
- Vamp up your body lotion by adding a few drops of an essential oil to create a signature scent for you by you.
- Create your very own face mask with different essential oils to suit your skin type.
- Make your bath time extra special with essential oil.
Remember that some people react to essential oils. So do some research and testing to find your status. There are so many ways you can benefit from aromatherapy but the top shot of it is to visit a Spa to have a professional therapist give you a treat. Essential oils are available in health shops, pharmacies and online. I get mine from Natural Nigerian.
According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, meditation is the practice of thinking deeply in silence, especially for religious purposes or in order to make the mind calm. Meditation is a family of activities, not a single thing says University of Wisconsin Neuroscience lab director, Dr. Richard J Davidson . Meditation takes many forms; Mindfulness, Yoga, T’aichi, Religious, Qigong but your best bet is to find the one most suited to your circumstance and convenience.
The practice of meditation comes with a host of benefits from stress reduction to improving concentration and everything in between. There’s a plethora of online sites with great info on meditation. All you need is a bit of study and willingness to try.