By Kathy Casey.
When I looked up what’s going on in the world in order to write a relevant article, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the first week of August has been designated as “National Simplify Your Life Week.” Now, that’s a timely subject!
Most everyone I know is continuing in their job because retirement funds are not quite there yet, starting new businesses, or taking care of grandkids or elderly parents. We are so busy that it’s sometimes difficult to find time for our friends. This can lead to a lot of stress, sometimes good stress if you love helping with the grandchildren, but it can seem like an overload just the same.
For the nation to have a week completely designated to simplifying our lives means that there are large numbers of us who are living stressful, overbooked lives! Let’s all take advantage of this week to STOP, and take a good look at how we can best make our lives a little simpler. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Set aside an hour this week to take an inventory of your household “stuff”.
Are there too many dishes cluttering your kitchen? Can you donate those old curtains, which you’ve been saving for the last ten years, to a charity? How about the printer that stopped working last July?
Start a list with two columns. In the first column write down items that you haven’t used in the last five years or have been broken for more than six months (you aren’t really going to get around to fixing them…); in the second column write down the date that you will remove them from the house by. Then act on your list one item at a time until you have cleared some of the clutter from your life. There’s nothing like a good purge to make you feel all clean and bright!
2. The best way to get all of the things on your “to do” list completed is to take time for meditation every day.
I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but when you try it, you will see for yourself what a difference even as little as ten minutes in the morning can make.
Start by relaxing your shoulders: sit up straight in a comfortable chair or couch, then squeeze you shoulders in and up toward your ears, and hold for five seconds. Next, squeeze those shoulders down toward your feet for five seconds. Then relax, and gently roll your shoulders around. When your shoulders are relaxed, you will be more comfortable.
Close your eyes and inhale deeply, thinking the words peace and joy (or any mantra that appeals to you and makes you feel calm), and then exhale slowly, thinking peace and joy again. Imagine that your breath is coming in and out of your heart as you repeat your mantra. Exhale longer and slower than you inhale, and as an added bonus, you will lower your blood pressure.
When you begin your day with a clear head your work is easier, you get more done, and you feel less stressed. Set a timer so that you don’t have to think about the time, and when you hear it go off, take one more deep, full, breath as you open your eyes, and start your day with a smile.
3. Evaluate your commitments.
This is a tough one for most of us, but necessary, none the less. Take a good look at everything that you do on a weekly basis and make a list of those that give value to your life, or that you love to do, and another column of those that are perhaps not in line with your life’s priorities.
Anything that you’ve committed to, out of guilt or pressure from others, should get a serious, questioning re-look. Decide how you can drop even one task that falls into category two and then take action. Learning how to say no is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Even if it frees up 20 minutes a week, that’s twenty minutes that you can do something for yourself, to keep yourself healthy and well, so go for it!
Since August is also National Foot Health Month, I’m including a link for a lovely self massage that’s great for your feet and can help remove some of those extra stress hormones coursing through your body. You can use that 20 minutes you’ve freed up from those old, nonessential priorities, to massage your feet and/or meditate!
Best of Health,