20 ways to take care of yourself when life is nuts

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We know what it's like; life is busy with work, family, commitments, friends and study, and on top of that you have the media blasting bad news, fear, hatred, terror, dissent and discrimination at you. It's easy to slip into 'overwhelmed' mode; to feel taking care of yourself is selfish, and low on your priorities.

But taking care of yourself is far from selfish - it's the healthiest, most productive decision you can make, today!

Everything on this list are small changes you can work into your day right now. Let us know how you go!

1. Learn to say no...

...to the things that really aren't priorities. If you don't go to those 'casual' work drinks, or if the laundry waits another evening, does it matter?  Learning to say no to things that aren't essential is a valuable life lesson that gives you back your sanity and time for yourself. Just make sure you and your family have clean underpants, that kind of helps!

2. 5 minutes of quiet

Make 5 minutes a day that's you time. Don't allow technology or other people to intrude. Whether you like to quietly meditate (try a guided meditation service like HeadSpace - you'll fall in love with Andy the British Monk) or try a mindfulness activity like journaling or colouring in, you will see the benefit of having time that's just about being in the moment, uninterrupted.

3. Eat well

We are all guilty of times where takeout is the go-to, because we're time poor and tired. But eating well shouldn't be sacrificed. Your health relies on getting the right nutrients from your food. If you don't fuel your body correctly, it breaks down! If you're worried you're not managing your intake well, try an app on your phone to check you're getting the right calories, protein, carbs, calcium and fibre like Easy Diet Diary (or you can join a program like our Spring Clean or New Year, New You for guidance from us!)

4. Sleep

We know it's a no brainer, but how often does sleep end up being sacrificed because you're watching 'just one more episode on Netflix' (Wait, how is it 1am?!) or because you're finishing a work project, or even just awake worrying about what the next day will bring. Get into a healthy sleep pattern and stick to it. It's like a battery for your body!

5. Cut the caffeine and sugar

Ok, don't get us wrong. We LOVE coffee. But we also know to think clearly, power through our days and feel our best we need to limit our intake of processed sugars and caffeine. If you need a pick me up, try a hot herbal tea, or a cold glass of water to wake you up. Cutting sugary foods will also help you to feel less bloated, think clearer and be less shakey.

6. Stand up, sit down

Sitting at a desk all day? GUILTY. Make sure you get up every hour at a minimum and stretch your legs. Do some neck and shoulder stretches, your hips too if you have the privacy. Sitting for long periods wrecks havoc on our posture and body, and it's hard work for our body to sit all day. We know it sounds silly, but our back muscles have to be exceptionally strong to tolerate a desk for 8 hours straight. If stretching in a communal office isn't an option, at least get up and walk to get a glass of water, because staying hydrated also helps productivity!

7. Exercise

It can feel like hard work to wear your active wear to be active, but you can and should do it. It helps you physically and mentally! Come join us @theBarre - whether you need a restorative power yoga session, or to Pilates and dance out the week in our signature @theBarre classes - we even have an Express Stretch program coming over the Spring so you have no excuse not to treat your body in record time!

8. Step up

Walk everywhere you can. Get off a bus stop early. Take the stairs. Stroll to the shops. Walking is great for your body and your mind, and short walks don't take up a huge amount of time, but have a high pay off. Fresh air and sunshine are great for your mood, and your body will thank you for upping your activity level.

9. Talk to a friend

When life is busy it can be easy to let friendships slide by the wayside. And while you don't need to talk everyday, it's a bad habit to let too long pass between phone calls, messages and catch ups. Of course, you don't have to make time for everyone, and as you get older you realise a handful of good friends is more valuable than lots of acquaintances. Prioritize your time for the people who really matter and make sure to spend some time laughing, sharing and learning with them.

10. Be community minded

Don't be afraid of strangers (within reason, of course!). Pay that person a compliment, say a warm hello as you pass on the street, smile at someone else who is waiting for their takeaway coffee, ask your neighbour what their dog's name is. Feeling connected to those around you will make you feel good, and them too. The world always needs more friendly encounters!

11. Reward yourself

Worked hard? Got that big project done? Had a long day? Try small rewards like buying a new lipstick, burning that delicious scented candle, having a massage or a long bath, or seeing a movie you've been looking forward to. Reminding yourself that you value "you" is as important as reminding those around you that you value them! But try to avoid food treats too often... you aren't a dog who just performed a trick ;)

12. Affirmations

Say it out loud. Whatever you need to hear from yourself: Be kind, be brave, I'm strong, I'm capable, I'm worthy of love, I am my best friend, there's nothing wrong with my thighs. Have some mantras, repeat them often. The more you hear it, the more you'll truly believe it, you wonderful person!

13. Breathe!

We are all guilty of this sin: not breathing properly. Too often we don't breathe deeply enough, getting short, shallow breaths instead that don't give our blood enough oxygen and leave us feeling stressed. Practice breathing deeply, with a soft belly and expanded ribs, and slowing it down to a comfortable 5-6 breaths per minute. To train your breathing, try an app like My Calm Beat (this app is also a great tool in moments when you feel panicky and need something to focus on to calm down!)

14. Digital detox

Sometimes, we just need to shut the world out. Turn off the TV, the radio, leave your phone in another room, and simply enjoy the quiet - whether for an hour, a day or a weekend - just let everyone know before hand you won't be contactable for anything but emergencies in advance if you're off the grid for a day or two. You don't need everyone's opinions, messages, memes and holiday snaps in your face all the time, and separating yourself from the doom and gloom of the media will also help to boost your mood. We promise, Instagram will wait for you, lover.

14. Music to your ears

Make a playlist for different situations. Get lit while you get fit, chill out while resting, dance it out while you clean etc. Music is good for the soul! If you need a little inspo, you can start by cruising through with our @theBarre chill out playlist on Spotify!

15. Stop waiting for a special occasion

Make everyday feel special. Dress up a little extra, use the good crockery and fancy glasses, get the fabric napkins out, burn the expensive candle, sit on the good sofa, open the exxy wine... what are you waiting for otherwise? You're worth it, today!

16. Do good deeds

While of course good deeds help the recipient, they also help us feel good too. Donate your time or money to charity or help out a friend or loved one with a project or chore. It doesn't have to be a big gesture or take much time, even little things like making extras while you're cooking your own dinner and dropping them to your friend who is sick so they don't have to cook will be well received.

17. Connect

Physical touch is so important for the human psyche. Hug your family and friends a little tighter and a little longer than usual. Have a make out sesh with your partner. Physical touch should be soothing, relieve tension, and make you feel more connected to those around you.

18. See your GP

Make sure your regular tests are up-to-date. It can be all too easy to push back appointments when life is busy, but if you know you're due for a pap smear, mammogram, skin check or prostate exam, book it right now. Even if you're feeling a little under the weather, a chat with your GP and a blood test can have you feeling 100% again in no time. Always prioritise your health before anything else. Go on, phone the doctors room, right now!

19. Pat, pat

Take a few minutes to simply sit and stroke your dog/cat/rabbit etc. If you don't have your own fur baby, then stalk, *coughs* we mean, find that cat that sits on the fence in your street and pat it, or borrow a friend's dog and take it for a walk. There's also dedicated places like Catmosphere who combine kitty cuddles with cookies. Spending time with our furry friends lowers your stress levels and normally our four legged friends will make you laugh with how adorable they are too!

20. Block it out

Right now: schedule an afternoon of you time. Use it to read a book or magazine, visit a gallery or museum, sit on the beach, sip a smoothie and people watch at a café, go for a bush walk, or lay in bed and day dream - whatever you choose, enjoy your own company and don't succumb to guilt. Do not surrender this time, it's as valid an appointment as any other in your diary!