First of all, let me say that I am good at planning, but I am also a procrastinator, especially when it comes to things I don't like doing. For Example, I love to cook, but I dislike deciding and planning a menu and a grocery list. So I end up avoiding that process finding myself searching for what to make for dinner last minute. Even though I know if I would take 20 minutes to plan the menu and grocery list for the week, the entire process of shopping and cooking would go that much smoother. When I was working and managing two boys in sports, planning was essential. I was all about structure and sticking to it. It gave me anxiety when something didn't work out to my plan. I dislike unknown variables being thrown at me. I've grown a lot since then, thank God! However, I think there is still a lot of truth to planning so that we can manage our days and focus on our wellbeing body, mind and spirit.
Here are some simple ways to keep your day in check ~
1. Sleep Routine ~ I really can't stress this enough and it's number one because if you don't do anything else, you must commit to a sleep routine. I suffered through insomnia for years. I tried every sleep aid known to man until the effects wore off. Then I found yoga. I'm still a light sleeper, but I get 8 hours of sleep a night and I always wake up before the alarm feeling completely rested. And speaking of alarms. The first battle you lose in the day is pressing the snooze button.
2. Wake with Gratitude ~ When you awaken let your first thoughts be, "Thank you!" I have done this ever since I interviewed Miss Gwen for the Happy Stories book. Miss Gwen lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. Stranded for days on top of her home. After finally being rescued, she was bussed to Texas. Where she later lost everything in Ike. Oh and by the way, she lost her leg to infection as well. Her advice to everyone is "God chose me to wake up this morning. I must honor him with my happiness and gratitude." Let's just say, when my life seems challenging I hear Miss Gwen's southern voice in my head. "God chose me to wake up..."
3. Daily Ceremony ~ Carve out time for prayer, meditation, daily devotion or quiet undistracted reflection. This is one that challenges most people, especially those with busy lives. We over commit to everyone, except ourselves and God. I struggle with this also. It is set on my calendar and I get a notification at 6am that I am to sit for 30 minutes to pray, read and meditate. You don't have to start with 30 minutes. If this is new to you, start with 10 minutes. Just start. You won't regret it. The rest of the day seems to fall into place when I'm committed to my daily ceremony.
4. Move Your Body ~ For so many years, my daily routine was get up, get ready and rush out the door to drop the boys to school and head to work. Come home. Go to practice or games. Rush through dinner and homework. Watch some sort of nonsense on TV just to destress (which actually caused more stress and sleep deprivation) and go to bed. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. I never took time for my body and it paid the price through pain and health issues. It's never too late to start moving your body, but it takes commitment. Walk. Do Yoga. Swim. Whatever your thing is ~ do it!!!! Start with a doable plan. Don't try to do it all at once. Start small. And remove obstacles. Here's one I hear a lot. "Well I'm so busy this week, I'll have to start next week." Then weeks turn into months and months turns into...You get the picture.
5. Clear the Clutter ~ This is so challenging for so many people. Clutter equals a sense of protection. An armor, so to speak. Let me offer a quick daily solution. Towards the end of the day, when you are watching TV that, as I mentioned, is probably causing you more stress and anxiety, stop watching 10 to 20 minutes earlier and prepare yourself and your home for the next day. Pick up your kitchen so you don't wake up to cluttered counters or dishes in the sink. If you have kids, start a routine of picking up toys etc before bed. Take time to read to them. Get their clothes ready for the next day. Tidy up. Arrange pillows on your couch. Fold blankets. Put away clean clothes and put dirty clothes in the hamper. Clear out the junk mail. Just conduct a 10 minute sweep through your home so you can rest easy without the visual chaos. This will help you move through the next morning with ease and less stress.
There are so many more things that could be on this list, but 5 is a good start. I hope this inspires you to start a routine that leads to less stress and more self-care. Go easy on yourself! This isn't going to happen all at once. Don't be so rigid that planning causes more stress. You, like myself, will fall off the wagon many, many times. That's all part of the growth process. Just pick yourself up and do it again the next day! And thank God for choosing you to wake up!