Just like our muscles need a bit of TLC, so do our minds––and as a society, we are only now truly understanding the importance of mental health in our quality of life. Finding balance mentally and physically is often a struggle. We’re being told time and time again how important it is to take 'me' time but we're simultaneously inundated with work or to-do lists that undervalue its importance and distract us.
As a cycling instructor at FirstLight and a mother to a 3 year old boy, there really is no such thing as a rest day for me! But one thing I take very seriously apart from my physical well-being is my mental health. Here are five simple things I do to help me reclaim that incredibly valuable time for myself.
Disclaimer: I am not a robot and neither are you so don't feel like you have to do them all in one go!
1. Get your sleep
Everybody is different and therefore the amount of sleep you will need will vary from person to person. But one thing that’s for certain is that we all need quality sleep. It's essential for both mental and physical recovery. You can't be on your A-game if you're not achieving this. ( New parents out there skip ahead. You won't be getting this one for a while, but circle back to it in a few months’ time.) One thing I do to ensure that I get my sleep is setting myself a bedtime and I stick with it no matter what! If you didn't manage to do everything on your list, it simply means there wasn't enough time to do it. We all need to find peace with the things we achieve on a daily basis and remember that there will always be another day to go out and conquer the world! Something that will be exponentially easier if you get your sleep.
If you had asked me a year ago to meditate, I would have rolled my eyes and arrogantly said that it wasn't my thing. It's still something that I find incredibly challenging, but the benefits are tremendous and the results are immediate. I quite literally take 5 minutes, normally on my commute to work or right before bed to just bring my awareness and my focus back to me. If meditating doesn't come naturally to you, there are loads of apps out there that can help you get to grips with the idea. I personally like Headspace as it offers very short, focused sessions for pretty much any situation.
This one takes 30 seconds, so if you really are short for time, then this is the one for you. My 1/1 rule is this: at the end of my day I think of one thing that I accomplished and one thing that I am grateful for. This allows me to end my day on a positive note despite the stresses and perceived shortcomings that often come with life. The more you practice positive thinking, the easier it is for your brain to naturally default into thinking positively. That is a scientific fact!
4. Stay hydrated
I, like many people, often value caffeine over water to help me get through the day. Yes, those lattes are a lovely pick-me-up, but they are also dehydrating. Water is crucial for maintaining peak performance in every single system in your body including your heart, brain and muscles. So you'll often see me with my favourite green water bottle just taking sips throughout the day. Science to the rescue again: it’s harder to break old habits than it is to start new ones. So you can keep that coffee cup, just add a water bottle to the mix!
5. Forgive Forgive Forgive... yourself
Ugh... I didn't get a single vegetable in my son today!
I didn't train as hard as I could've done this week.
I ate way too much sugar at the weekend.
I could've practiced more patience with my partner.
All very real thoughts that go through my head. We are all human and imperfect and we are working with a mere 24 hours in a day. Nowadays we demand so much from ourselves and the guilt can often be overwhelming. As difficult as it is, I have learned to forgive myself for the plethora of mistakes that I make daily. Because, as it states in the disclaimer, we are not robots; We are not perfect. We are human!
Book into Sage’s class today and let her positive vibes brighten your day.