All posts by Adrienne Erin

Adrienne is a freelance writer and blogger who loves Chicago. You can see more of her work by following her on Twitter. @adrienneerin

6 Ways to Make More Time for Yourself

Between work, family, friends, relationships and all the responsibilities that lie within, it can be hard to find time for anyone else – including yourself. Free time can feel like a luxury, especially when every time you turn around, you realize you need to make a run to the grocery store, do the laundry or give the floors a good scrub. Nonetheless, it’s important to carve out some alone time. A 2011 study showed that women today are less happy than they were 40 years ago. A lack of “me time” could be a large part of the problem. Here are some tips to help you turn it all around.

Evaluate Your Life

Pay close attention to your schedule and how you spend your days. If you have time, write down everything you do. If you don’t have enough time to write everything down, make note of the big things, like work, but also the things you do in between the big things. Whether it’s obsessively checking your email or running to the store for things you forgot, it’s all worth documenting.

Make Some Cuts

Once you have a record of how you spend your time, give it a thorough look. Are you noticing any patterns? If you’re running the sweeper on a daily basis, consider doing it every other day or every week instead. If you find yourself getting lost in work emails at home, when you only planned on checking in, set aside a window of time when work can be done at home and stick to it.

Time to Delegate

Yes, you can have it all, but you can’t do it all. Sometimes, it’s important to ask for help. Solicit it from your kids or your significant other, or hire someone to handle tasks like cleaning or tutoring. If work is bogging you down the most, pick someone with the skills to get it done right and hand them the task with clear direction. This means one less thing for you to do!

Learn How to Say “No”

It might be easier to say yes, but you’ve decided to make more time for yourself. It is not selfish, but necessary in most instances. Really think about your answer before you give in. You can’t add more hours to the day, but you can overcommit.

Pencil Yourself Into Your Schedule

Now that you’ve freed up your schedule a bit, fill it back up with some time for yourself. If you want this to last, you have to pencil yourself in and make appointments with yourself. We all have priorities and now it’s time to make you one of them.

Decide How to Spend Your Time

This time is now yours… how will you spend it? Make it something you look forward to, like a little indulgence. Maybe it’s a hot bath, a manicure, a guilty pleasure or a leisurely walk.

These tips for lifestyle reorganization will hopefully put you on a path toward improved health, overall happiness and sanity – so enjoy. Just remember while play dates, doctors’ appointments and meetings are a priority, so are you.

Make Time for Relaxation: Simple Solutions to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Glancing at your datebook, you notice that every calendar day is marked with an engagement, meeting, activity or routine. You have numerous deadlines and not enough hours in the day to get to everything.

From the minute you wake up to the minute you fall asleep, you dream of finances. Nothing seems to be working. You’ve noticed some issues in your relationships. No matter how hard you try, you’re simply stuck.

We all have a similar story; something that nags on us at all hours of day and tires us out. Stress, anxiety and pressure are constantly grating on our minds and bodies, hindering us from relaxing. Sometimes, all it takes is a little respite; a minute to unwind, rejuvenate and reflect. Given our busy lifestyles in this generation of multi-tasking, it’s important to take some time to relax and focus on your own well-being.

Below are ways to fit in a bit of relaxation without having to worry about cramming your already tight schedule. You’d be surprised; often, a little can go a long way to keep your sanity intact.

Food for Thought

Crave Some Chocolate

Chocolate is wonderfully beneficial when it comes to dealing with anxiety. Approximately 1.4 ounces of the good stuff can actually calm your nerves and put you back in a good place. Make sure it’s dark chocolate that you’re nibbling on, as it regulates your metabolism and the stress-control hormone cortisol.

Mango Mini-Vacation

It doesn’t hurt that this fruit is bursting with tropical flavor that sends your taste buds on a one-way trip to a remote island. What makes mango even better is that it contains linalool, a great compound to lower stress levels. It’s no wonder our thoughts quickly change from dingy desk to cool cabana when we take that first sweet bite.

Gather Yourself with Green Tea

Green tea is a health powerhouse. This special drink has the power to release anger with its excellent source of L-Theanine. Whether made hot from a pouch or comes cold in a bottle, you can enjoy each sip and unwind. Instead of seeing red, think green; just like a traffic light, think about becoming proactive, not reactive. Add a bit of honey to reduce inflammation of the brain, thus releasing anxiety and depression.

Harness Your Inner Self

Just Breathe

When things become very hectic, try to count to ten or take deep breaths. This will help you center yourself and bring your heart rate down. It may help to put your head down for a second or lean back in your chair to find some relief and release some tension.

Escape for a Minute

Close your eyes and picture your body with nothing else around you. Visualize what stress may look like on your body. Then, start from the top of your head and picture the stress escaping out of your body, leaving your fingertips and escaping your toes. This practice can actually relax your mind and body, ultimately helping you to refocus and gain perspective.

Let Go

Grab a stress ball or hold on to your chair. Tighten your grip and tense every part of your body. Then, release all of it, sending your stress away along with your release. Your body and mind will let go and this physical reminder can assist you as a good coping mechanism.

Discover Alone Time

Leave the Room

Sometimes the situation or thing that stresses you out the most is right in the room with you. Take the opportunity to go grab a drink, walk around the hall or find a quiet space for a moment. Getting physically away from the situation can help you deescalate from your heightened stress. You can come back to it when you are ready to tackle the issue and handle it with a new, refreshed perspective.

Organize

Straightening up your work space or desk or home can help you gain control over your stress and anxiety. These small acts of control and assertiveness can boost your confidence and reenergize you to tackle an upcoming situation. There are even professional companies, like Maxwell Systems, that can do the organizing for you when it comes to accounting and project management. The goal is to find sanity and solace in keeping things manageable and in your control.

Get Some Fresh Air

Breathing in fresh air is always rejuvenating. You can experience life outside of walls and release from feeling pressured and constrained. Take a brisk walk or take deep breaths. Find something to focus on and reflect on what amazing things are happening in the natural world. Discover a bird and follow their flight pattern. Observe a squirrel and their problem solving. This is a great way to gain perspective and take a moment for you.

Inspire and Create

Write It Out

Letting your thoughts escape onto paper can help you release stress from your mind and expel it somewhere else. Often times if you’re feeling emotional or angry, you can take things out on paper instead of yourself or others. This way, you can approach situations or people in a calm and collected manner.

Dance and Sing Your Heart Out

Find joy in freeing your body and mind. Put on your favorite song and sing on the commute to work or in the comfort of your own home. You could even tap your feet and hum at work if it doesn’t distract others. This small or large gesture can have you releasing all kinds of endorphins. Exercising is another great way to focus on yourself and channel your well-being.

Live, Laugh, Love

At the end of the day, appreciate life and don’t take anything for granted. Even though stress and anxiety feel like giant weights on our mind and body, don’t ever let it defeat you. Find the time, if even for five minutes, to practice these strategies to reduce stress. Laughing with a good friend or hugging a beloved pet can help you find energy, strength and happiness to conquer the day.