If there is one thing I have learned since entering retirement, it is that demands for my time and attention have not changed. If anything, armed with the knowledge that I have time on my hands, the demands have seemed to escalate. If I am being honest, some of these demands are coming from within but others are coming from well-meaning but misguided acquaintances. Take note that I did not say “friends” but rather acquaintances. More about that in a moment.
So here is the thing. Saying yes to every request is exhausting. Whether it is an invitation to a social event or a request to serve on a committee, the never-ending list of demands on your time can turn you into a rat on a treadmill. Without adequate time to stop and catch your breath, your sleep suffers as does your health, and even though you otherwise have a healthy lifestyle, your immune system becomes compromised. Heck, even rats need to rest!
In this article, I am going to reaffirm nine things we all need to embrace in order to maintain our sanity in this crazy mixed up world. Some will call this self-care, while others will call it mindfulness. The ignorant will call it selfish. But trust me on this: putting a priority on self-care is not being selfish. Instead, it is an important component of living a strategic life.
9 Tips for Keeping Your Sanity By Embracing Self-Care
Stop over-planning and embrace serendipity
Serendipity happens when you discover new experiences by chance. They kind of sorta happen.
Look at it this way. Life is a big adventure without a rule book. By always following a plan (aka an unwritten rule book), you miss out on the opportunity to experience new and uber-interesting things in life. Instead, why not jump out of your comfort zone and let life take you somewhere you did not expect or imagine? Don’t miss out on the journey of adventure.
Ground yourself and calm your senses with peace and quiet
Escape the ugliness in the world (and yes, there is some) by grounding yourself in nature. A lake, the mountains, a park, the forest, or simply your back yard can be a haven for peace and tranquility. Listen to the crickets or the birds. View the sunrise and sunset and marvel at the colorful skies. Finding peace and quiet is meditative and calming.
By admiring the beauty in nature, you will experience a reprise from the issues of the day.
Find a handful of true friends and love them forever
True friends are those handfuls of people that have seen you at your best as well as your worst and everything in between. They do not judge and have no agenda other than friendship. If you are really lucky, your spouse or partner will be one of those friends.
Your true friends will support your dreams and pick you up and help you start all over when you fail. Cherish these friends and consider them gold for they are priceless.
Focus on your strengths
Strengths come in many forms. Mental and physical acuity, creative skills of all manner and type, and the ability to show empathy are just a few of the strengths that some of us possess. There are thousands of others.
What are your strengths? Define them and hold them close so you do not forget about them. Everyone has days when they feel down. It is during those times that you need to dig out your list of strengths and focus on them. They are a reminder that you are worth it.
Get some exercise on a regular basis
Let’s face it. As we age, exercise becomes more difficult. It is not the act itself per se, but rather the recovery period after the fact. For that reason, it is important to get some exercise on a regular basis and daily if possible. Walking, hiking, dancing, biking, light weight training, and even the ubiquitous treadmill all provide enough exercise to rev up the endorphins and let you approach life with vigor.
Be positive, be nice, and be kind
Having a positive mindset will allow you to look at life more objectively. Disruptive events large and small are surely going to happen, but pulling out of them will be far easier when you roll up your sleeves and tackle them with a positive outlook for the future.
The same things apply to being nice. Shitty people are going to cross your path. They certainly cross mine. You can either let them take you down or you can kill them with kindness then move on. Be nice then forget them.
Along those same lines, be kind. It is okay to snark in private but when dealing face to face with your fellow humans, be gentle and kind.
Unplug without guilt
Step away from your computer, tablet, or smartphone and unplug for a few hours, a day, or a week if you can (I can’t for much longer than 8 hours). These days our lives are controlled by our gizmos and the demands that they too make on our time. Unless you are at work, most emails can wait before you respond, if you respond at all. The same applies to texts, Facebook, and YouTube reminders and notifications. And let us not forget about Google. The Internet has turned us into junkies that seek our latest high by looking at a digital screen. It is so much out of control that we burn ourselves up jumping from texting to email, and from browser hopping from site to site in search of meaningless nothingness.
Instead of sabotaging your enjoyment of life by staring at a screen for six or more hours a day, simply unplug for awhile. Try it in small doses and gradually increase the time you are unplugged. You just might find that you love the newfound boost in productivity and the time to enjoy other aspects of your life.
Be prepared for life’s emergencies
No list on self-care would be complete without a reminder to be prepared for life’s emergencies. In it’s simplest form, store food, water, light sources (flashlights), power (batteries and a generator), medical and first aid supplies, cash, and those all-important amusements that will get you through a storm or extended power outage. Just like modern grocery stores, most homes maintain essentials on a just in time, or just what we need basis. Not good.
True self-care means having just a little extra to get you by when you are on your own. It is not a matter of if it will happen, but when.
Put Yourself First
Do I really need to remind you to put yourself first? Yes, I do, because we have been hoodwinked into thinking doing so is being selfish. To the best of my knowledge, we have only one shot at living life on this planet. If we don’t prioritize ourselves now, when will we?
My message is this: embrace life with gusto and gumption and don’t be afraid to put yourself and your own needs first at least some of the time.
Yes, taking care of the needs of others is what we are taught to do and might as well be in our DNA. That is all well and good but keep in mind that you will be useless to help others if you are so worn out and overburdened that you become broken.
Additional Reading: 8 Steps Toward Living a Joyful and Strategic Life
Summing It All Up
At this stage of my life, comfort, happiness, and wellness are high on my list of priorities. It is what I practice and what I do, every single day.
Furthermore, I am so done with negativity that if exposed to someone with a half glass empty mentality, I politely and kindly remove myself from their circle. Instead, I pull away and find others who share my values and spend time with them, if they will have me. This is such an important part of living a strategic life that it bears repeating over and over again. Couple with loving myself and practicing self-care, I am doing my best to live a strategic life. This is not being selfish, it is being well.
Can you say the same?
Yours for a Joyful Life,