Today I'm prescribing something specific for you: Take time for yourself—even if it's just a few moments. Now, I know what you're thinking: "But, Dr. Pingel, I can't—I'm just too busy/overwhelmed, etc."
I get it; I've been there myself as I struggled to find the balance of it all. The idea to take time for yourself can seem impossible at first. But that's when I started incorporating the art of micro-moments—and it changed everything for me, from how I felt to how I viewed time management to even how I interacted with my family! And these were all positive changes!
Keep reading to learn more about what micro-moments are and how they can benefit your health and help restore balance to your life!
Do you ever feel like you’re on autopilot—simply going through the motions of your day just to get everything done? You aren’t alone; researchers have found that at least 47 percent of people spend their days on “autopilot,” meaning they’re following automated behaviors while their thoughts are elsewhere.
The result? They aren’t as engaged and report a significant decrease in happiness. And that’s not really surprising, is it?
How often do we “make it through the day” with the hope of having a more peaceful, restful tomorrow—only to be met with the same demands the following day? We live life in the fast line with no signs of being able to hit the breaks anytime soon.
Eventually, we run ourselves into the ground because our bodies are so exhausted that they can no longer keep up, and that’s when we not only enter “autopilot” mode but also begin to experience symptoms such as insomnia, headaches, crippling fatigue, elevated blood pressure, and more.
And perhaps one of the worst effects? We miss out on the very things that mean the most to us—being there for our loved ones and truly experiencing those special moments. It’s hard to realize that in our attempts to make it through our to-do lists by not stopping with the goal of having more time later on, we’re inevitably losing what little time we’d hoped to gain.
So, what’s the solution? Counterintuitively, you absolutely must take time for yourself throughout the day. It allows your mind and body to take a much-needed break so that you aren’t completely mentally and physically exhausted by the end of the day.
When you take time for yourself, you can be mentally and emotionally present more often when you’re needed most—by your kids, grandkids, spouse, friends, extended family, and more. But with all your demands and busy schedule, how can you possibly carve out time for yourself throughout the day?
If you can't remember the last time you took time for yourself, you need to incorporate the art of micro-moments!
A micro-moment is defined as a very short period of time that serves a specific purpose or holds some importance. When you consider this in terms of your health, you’re carving out very short moments of time to do something highly personalized for yourself that helps to find balance, recenter, and emerge feeling more restored and energized.
For me, dancing is my go-to micro-moment exercise. If I’m ever feeling overwhelmed or in need of a quick energy boost, I carve out 3 to 5 minutes to dance to an upbeat song—whether it’s in my office, in my kitchen, or even outdoors! Dancing is what I love and something that brings me joy and energy, but that may not be the best micro-moment activity for you.
Perhaps you love to read or cook or craft—whatever the activity is, just make sure that when you take time for yourself, you’re doing something that truly fills your soul and brings you happiness.
Here are some steps to take to prioritize micro-moment activities along with some suggestions on what to do.
Not sure where to start? Check out these top tips for what to do when you take time for yourself and how to set aside that precious time that’s usually otherwise spoken for!
On Sunday night, look at your schedule for the week ahead. Pick a time that you know doesn’t usually fill up with meetings or calls and also that won’t require you to be “on” for others—such as when your kids are sleeping or at school or your spouse has left for work.
Schedule at least two 5-minute increments of time each day (more if possible!) for your micro-moment activity and set a reminder so you don’t forget!
Even if you’re just moving into the next room or stepping outside, it’s important to remove yourself from any distractions, such as your computer or phone, for your micro-moment activity. Allow yourself to be fully in the moment, which you can do because you know you’ll be gone for less than the time it takes to go to the restroom!
Remember, anything that comes up in the next 5 minutes or so can absolutely wait until you get back.
While meditating for short bursts of time may work for some, if you’re like most people, learning how to take time for yourself—even if it is just a few moments—is going to be a big adjustment at first. So choose something engaging.
Is there a certain book you’ve been dying to start, a song you love to dance to, or a craft you’re in the process of creating? Do you love writing or going for a bike ride? It doesn’t matter what the activity is as long as it’s totally about you and something you love. Remember, the point here is to do something that brings you joy and fulfillment.
Once you become accustomed to how to take time for yourself by utilizing micro-moments each day during the week, consider expanding that time on weekends or in the evenings. You can treat yourself to lunch or go watch a movie you’ve been dying to see.
Perhaps you can sign up for a dance class once a week like I do or join a walking club. Once you begin to take time for yourself on a regular basis, you’ll be surprised to see the changes unfold not only in your mind and body but also in your relationships.
And if you find that you’re still struggling in your efforts to begin taking time for yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Your family and those you love most want the best for you—and that means pitching in to help you feel and be your best. Remember, prioritizing your health is the single best way to give back to those you love.