Even though we are juggling many responsibilities from work and family obligations to chores and grocery shopping – it's very important to be mindful of ourselves, symptoms our bodies are showing us it needs support and then responding to those symptoms in healthy ways.
We must take the time, on a weekly basis, to check in with ourselves emotionally and physically. What are our basic needs and are they being fulfilled? Does there need to be a reevaluation of how time is spent? Is there time built into everyday life for stress relieving activities on a daily/weekly/monthly basis?
What are your basic needs?
1) Movement/Exercise: The benefits of daily movement or exercise on the mind, body and spirit as well as our ability to deal with stress and build resilience are countless. Exercise releases endorphins, which improve mood and act as natural painkillers. Regular exercise also supports restful sleep, which can be affected when you’re stressed. Though a healthy exercise routine is absolutely fabulous for mental health – too much exercise can have the opposite effect – so be gentle with yourself. Are you getting movement in every single day?
2) Nutrition: When you're busy you may be eating what you can, when you can – but this isn’t optimal. Your body and mind NEED nourishment to function optimally every single day. Fast foods on the go is not going to cut it and you’re doing yourself a disservice. How can you start to swap out nutrient-void junk foods that cause your body and mind distress for nutrient-rich superfoods that will build, heal, balance and nourish you the way you need to be nourished? Set your grocery shopping day, set your weekly meal plan and prep day. Make this a priority because nutrients are a serious human necessity.
3) Hydration: When we are on the go, we can tend to forget one of our most important basic needs – water! Starting the day with a full glass of water first thing in the morning is the best way to set the stage for the rest of the day. This will hydrate, detox, give your organs a jump start and you will be more likely to drink more throughout the day. Do you have a large travel cup you can bring with you everywhere? How about utilizing more wet foods like soups, stews and smoothies over dry foods? Can you sip on herbal teas or bone broths throughout the day? Do you need to set a reminder throughout the day to drink up? Look into quality water filters for the home: Water Filters | EWG’s Healthy Living: Home Guide.
4) Air: Have you ever been running around focused on work, chores, errands and realize that you haven't actually taken a full conscious breath in a while? I personally have a sticky note on my bathroom mirror that says 'Breathe' as a reminder to stay connected to myself throughout the day. Just one focused deep breath in and out, through the nose, throughout the day has so much positive power over your body and mind. My personal favorite breathing technique is 4-7-8. Give it a try! It's also important to purify the home with household plants, salt lamps, aromatherapy, use air purifiers/dehumidifiers and remember to check the HVAC filter regularly. If a room feels musty, don't wait, get it checked for mold.
5) Sleep: Lack of sleep not only cuts back on energy and daily production, but it also causes irritability, mood swings and a lower ability to deal with stress. It’s imperative to get your 7-9 hours of sleep every single night. We do the most healing when we sleep – both body and mind. Sleep is important for hormone balance, muscle and tissue repair, a robust immune system, memory and cognitive health and so much more. If you're having trouble falling asleep or waking up throughout the night, check out The Importance of Sleep: Are You Getting Enough for more support.
6) Relationships and a Sense of Belonging: Plan ahead to make sure to have this time when you can. Keeping a close nit group of friends, staying connected with that one close pal or staying in touch with family is very healing and stress-reducing. Whether it’s a weekend walking group, a parent-child play date, game nights or even just 1 night a month for a guy's night or girls' night. Staying connected with people and having a sense of belonging for yourself is important. It also serves as a form of 'safety' knowing you have a group of people you can depend on.
7) Shelter: Your home should be your safe place. Though it may not be quiet all the time – it should be a place of peace; a sanctuary for you and your children. Remember that the mind sees clutter and uncleanliness as ‘disease’. So, try to make the time to clean up, organize and make your home feel like home. Utilize plants, non-toxic candles, salt lamps, aromatherapy, open the shades first thing in the morning. Home is where the heart is.
8) Stress Management Techniques: With the rise in high-paced living, adopting stress management and reduction techniques that you enjoy and will stick to consistently is becoming a basic need. Staying in tune with your body and mind, the symptoms they show you that support is needed and responding in a healthy way is essential to overall health and happiness. What can you commit to utilizing daily/weekly/monthly to support stress management?
Soaking baths (magnesium epsom salts, not toxic bubble baths)
Breathing techniques (check out 4-7-8)
Utilizing non-toxic candles, aromatherapy or incense in the house or office
Listening to calming music
15-30 minutes of quiet time daily
Castor oil packs
Whatever works and is easy to make a consistent priority - make your plan and stick to it. This is not just important for you; children will see how you prioritize stress management and learn these skills early on for themselves to utilize for the rest of their lives.
So, if you are feeling a little frazzled, not present or connected to yourself, are experiencing random physical symptoms or just feeling awful ... think about your basic needs. Are they being met?