It’s Always a Good Time to Put Yourself First
3 Ways to Prioritize Self-Care When Everyone Needs You
By Michelle Cederberg
Few would argue with the fact that the ongoing pandemic has made the last 15 months crazy, stressful and uncertain. Our lives have been turned upside down, and we’ve been forced to navigate work and life chasing a covid finish line that keeps moving. If that was all you had to deal with your hands would be full, but as someone who works in agriculture, your life was non-stop before all of this, so you’ve no doubt had days (or weeks) where it all feels like a bit much.
I’m a city girl who’s only connection to agriculture is the hobby farm we had growing up on 5 acres. That, and the endless admiration and appreciation I have for all the boots on the ground farmers and Ag specialists who have kept food on our shelves (and in my belly) even when it was impossible to find toilet paper. I recognize how hard you’ve been working, some days non-stop. With the busy summer season stretched out in front of you, and so much to do to tend the crops, and the livestock, or to service those who do, now is a good time to prioritize a little health and energy sustaining self-care.
I’m sure you’re thinking, “Self-care? Not when everyone needs me!” It’s true that when life gets busy and your hands are full, the first thing that drops off the to-do list is self-care, but that’s exactly when you need to put yourself first – even if the self-care steps are small. The self-care steps we drop when we get busy – exercise, sleep, relaxation, eating healthfully – are the very things that will boost our resilience against the stress that busyness brings.
Here’s three ways to prioritize self-care when everyone needs you:
1. Size Doesn’t Matter.
When it comes to self-care, small steps are better than no steps. Don’t skip your daily walk because you don’t have time to do a good long one. Set a timer for 10 minutes, pick up the pace, and fit in a short one. And, rather than do a complete healthy-eating-overhaul start thinking about small ways you can improve your daily eating: healthy snacks, less sugar, more fresh fruits and veggies (which you may have grown yourself). Go to https://michellecederberg.com/mesh/ to download a free mini book full of tips that will help you move, eat, sleep and hydrate just a bit better every day. The link includes a few other fun freebies too.
2. Remember to Breathe.
If you’re in the Ag industry you’re connected to the outdoors in ways that city dwellers will never understand. Take advantage of that. When we get busy, we’ll often forget to breathe fully, using only the upper third of our lungs, and quick, shallow breathing only adds to stress. Stop, breathe in slowly through your nose for four to six seconds, then exhale just as slowly out your mouth. Do that four or five times and as you do, let muscle tension go, especially in your face and neck.
3. Break Well.
When you stop for lunch or that afternoon cup of tea, try not to multitask with work emails or scrolling through your phone. Instead take at least ten minutes to enjoy your meal unencumbered, or sip your tea while it’s still hot, and be present in the moment. Research has shown that if we engage in distracting behaviour while we eat (TV, internet, social media etc.,) we don’t always pay attention to how much we eat or how quickly we eat, and then miss the signals the body sends when it’s full. Pause and savour your food, and use the time to connect with yourself and others.
Self-care doesn’t have to be ‘go big or go home’ to be impactful. When you’ve got more time, use it, but don’t use busyness as an excuse to set your own needs to the side. Throughout the day, listen to your body and give it what it needs, even in small, nourishing steps. It’s how your body works, and it will help you work better… at everything.
Let us know your thoughts or experiences on this topic in the comments below!