Build in Self-Care as You Resume Your “Normal” Schedule

People are heading back to offices and kids are getting involved in activities again. Now is the time to put in place self-care routines that will help us thrive as the world gets busier. Many of us are realizing the shut-down gave us an opportunity to cook real food, enjoy nature and be physically active with our families, things that didn’t happen very often in the frenzied world before the pandemic. Yet, these are the things that energize us and make us more effective in everything we do! Let’s build them into our “normal” schedules!

Self-care doesn’t need to be complicated and you can work at it in baby steps: commit to eating well, staying hydrated and active, getting enough sleep and taking a bit of time for yourself so you can be effective and able to fully enjoy this new busy time.

Plan Your Food Week

Planning meals in advance saves you time in the long run. It also helps you avoid the take-out rut, keeps you less stressed and helps you feel your best.

  • Make a Meal Plan – Schedule a consistent day for planning meals for the coming week. This initial investment of time will save you extra shopping trips (or grocery delivery orders) and help you avoid the what-are-we-having-for-dinner-tonight scramble.
  • Prep Ahead of Time – Devote time over the weekend (or on a convenient weekday) to prepping veggies such as onions, peppers, carrots and other favorites for use in salads and sautés during the week. Precook grains and beans and freeze in pre-portioned bags.
  • Use Your Grill – In the heat of summer, grilling burgers, chicken breasts and kabobs is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and keep your kitchen cool. You can pair the protein with a great summer salad or throw some veggies on the grill along with the meat! Grilling and freezing extra protein to have available for future meals will help you get dinner on the table quickly on busy nights.
  • Snack Smart – Avoid the pitfalls of grazing on foods that bring you down:
    • Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter to grab on your way out
    • Prepare a container of pre-cut raw veggies for quick, crunchy snacks
    • Stock up on hummus cups, individually packaged cheeses or roasted nuts for added protein in snacks

Stay Hydrated

Hydration is always crucial, but even more so during this exceptionally hot summer. Fatigue, weakness and sluggishness, all symptoms of dehydration, interfere with your ability to accomplish all your tasks and enjoy the great outdoors. Remember the rule of thumb: consume half your body weight in ounces of water. Remember that it takes 12-24 hours to fully hydrate so what you drink today hydrates you for tomorrow!

  • Carry a bottle of water with you throughout your day; add some fruit slices if you find that plain water tastes boring. Remember that caffeine dehydrates you, so aim to minimize consumption. And alcohol also works against you, so when attending those great summer cookouts, make sure you alternate each alcoholic beverage with a full glass of water to stay energized and feel your best.
  • Take advantage of hydrating fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Stay Active

Take advantage of the summer: walk, swim, bike, garden. Movement helps reduce stress and energizes us. If the weather is hot, shift to early morning and evening activities rather than being out in full sun. Set up a routine to stay active and outdoors.

Get Adequate Sleep

Adequate sleep means at least 7 hours of sleep a night. This is easier when you stick to a set bedtime, sleep in a cool room and avoid screen time for the hour just before bed.

Pause and Focus

When schedules get busy, self-care is often the first thing we cross off our lists. But by neglecting ourselves, we end up less productive at everything in our lives. Carve out consistent time for self-care – even if it is only a few minutes throughout the day. It will help you stay balanced and effective, lower your stress hormones and blood pressure and improve your mental clarity. Whether it is meditation, a regular massage, a relaxing bath or time spent doing a favorite hobby, make an uncompromising commitment to self-care – it is your most important appointment to keep!

Make self-care a priority and you will love the way you feel!