Quickies: 10 Minutes to a More Balanced Life

Previously in Life Is Now, I talked about "tuning in" to nurture the dormant parts of our selves ("Tune In to Turn On! Speak Your Truth"). Even as we awaken our full potentials, it’s easy to fall out of balance when money concerns, responsibilities, and cramped schedules distract us from self-care. But it only takes 10 minutes to cultivate greater balance.

First, determine which of your needs aren’t being met. If you aren’t sure, use this self-assessment. Then, choose an activity that will help restore balance to that part of your self and your life. Whether that means crossing an item off your to-do list or indulging in a special treat, devote a few minutes each day to your mental health and you will begin to feel more peaceful and fulfilled. Consider these mental health quickies:

Restore and Replenish

· Walk, do sit-ups, or jump rope
· Eat a snack
· Take a nap
· Breathe deeply
· Cook or find a new recipe to try
· Drink a cup of tea
· Put your feet up
· Stretch
· Do a few yoga poses
· Find a cause and sign up to volunteer

Repair and Resolve

· Hire a babysitter
· Ask someone else to cook
· Make an appointment to see a therapist
· Do the dishes
· Ask for help with a project
· Balance your checkbook
· Plan a day off
· Organize your work area
· Call about an overdue doctor/dentist/service appointment
· Catch up on e-mail

Nurture and Connect

· Talk or write to a friend
· Lay in a hammock
· Meditate or pray
· Pay a compliment
· Watch the sunrise/sunset
· Get and give hugs
· Sit in a park
· Give thanks verbally or in writing
· Plant something
· Inhale your favorite scent

Comfort and Indulge

· Change into sweats, pajamas, or slippers
· Dry off with towels warmed in the dryer
· Buy fresh flowers for your home
· Take a warm bubble bath
· Get lost in a magazine or book
· Buy a present—for you or someone else
· Hug a stuffed animal
· Listen to a comedy CD or mp3
· Fantasize or daydream
· Kiss or make love (what “quickie” list would be complete without this?)

Create and Play

· Write in a journal
· Shoot some hoops
· Dance or sing to a favorite song
· Color in a coloring book
· Work on a jigsaw puzzle, crossword, or Sudoku
· Play an instrument
· Work in the garden
· Swing on a swing
· Play with your children or pets
· Tell a joke

Print and try these "mental health quickies" when you need more balance in your life. Commit to spending just ten or fifteen minutes a day to care for your self. You deserve it!

What can you add to the list? How do you carve out time to take care of yourself? Share your ideas and stress relief strategies with us by adding a comment.


Sharon and Mike Williams said...

Those will be good ideas and things to try when I'm back in my hum-drum life of Jax -- right now there are so many new things happening every day that I don't have time to wonder if my life is in balance. It's balanced with enjoying our adventure to its fullest every day. But knowing that my dear friends at home are taking the worry out of being away helps with that enjoyment.
love you,

Larrysmom said...

I'm still loving this one Erin!


StaceyM said...

balance is a constant struggle, so i love these hints ;)

here's my quandry, though, i get so focused on outcomes - usually professional - that i rarely even check-in to see if i need these things. Even on the off chance that I do check it, I generally choose to remain focused rather than meet brewing, important needs for self-care.

any great tricks to remind oneself to check-in or to force re-prioritization of the needs one chooses to meet?

Erin Kelley-Soderholm said...

Thanks for bringing up three important issues, StaceyM: checking in, re-prioritizing, and letting go of outcomes.

First, I’ll address checking in. You might read the previous Life Is Now post on Paying Attention, where I address multitasking and staying present. If you are more present, you will experience greater productivity and awareness of your needs, moment-by-moment. In the meantime, you can set a reminder in Outlook, a kitchen timer, or an alarm clock to go off every so often to remind yourself to take a break, breathe, or change focus for a few minutes.

Another option that serves to help you check in and re-prioritize is to incorporate a new focus into your daily routine. Because I tend to ignore my spiritual self, I decided to devote 10 or 15 minutes every night before bed to meditate. I frequently use the podcasts from the Meditation Oasis site. They offer a lot of short relaxation and presence-related guided meditations. By including a new self-care habit in your routine, you show yourself it’s a priority and it begins to feel more natural.

In terms of re-prioritizing, I advise against “forcing” anything to happen. Instead, you might try to see your change of focus as “letting go” of the professional tunnel vision, or “letting go of resistance” to the new priorities. So in your case, consciously decide to let go of professional focus for a few minutes to allow space for the other parts of your self/life to breathe. It can also help to journal about what’s stopping you from cultivating more balance. What’s blocking you from letting yourself grow in these other areas?

When it comes to letting go of the outcome, I’m in the process of learning that one, myself. You might review the Let Go of the Outcome blog post for tips on that. All I can add is that it’s a challenge for me to focus on my inherent worth and the process of things rather than outcomes or my external “accomplishments.” With such a heavy professional focus, I wonder if that desire to “accomplish” and "succeed" outwardly plays into your struggles as well?

Thanks for your comments, and I look forward to hearing more about your efforts to find balance.