Extension service news: Don’t forget that everyone needs ‘me’ time

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By Judy Hetterman

You spend a lifetime making time for others - parenting, caregiving, volunteering, working – but how often do you take a personal timeout?  To keep a healthy body, mind, and spirit, try to do something for yourself each day for at least 10 minutes.  The following tips can help you take time for yourself.
• Get to know you.  What makes you, you?  To help you answer this question, think about the things you believe in, the values that guide your life and the passions that motivate you.
• Take care of yourself.  Neglecting your own well-being can lead to stress, irritability, moodiness and even depression.  Proper self-care, such as sleep, nutrition, physical activity and low stress can help improve mood and daily productivity and make you feel more relaxed, content and self-confident.
• Take a break from your daily routine without feeling guilty.  Slipping away from your daily routine doesn’t have to occur for extended periods of time.  It can mean going to your bedroom with your door closed to sit, take a bath or read a book uninterrupted.  Help your family and friends around you understand that this is a time you do not want any interruptions.  If it’s difficult for people to leave you alone, leave the house and go for a walk, met a friend for coffee, see a movie or go shopping.
• Make a “to do list”.  A to do list is a motivating and organizational tool that helps you plan your day, prioritize your schedule and manage your time effectively.
• Be physically active. Exercise affects overall physical and mental well-being.  It increases strength, cardiovascular conditioning, flexibility, balance, and body composition.  It also boosts self-esteem and confidence and helps lower stress and anxiety.
• Eat smart and drink water.  Wholesome, nutritious foods provide you with more energy, combat depression by keeping your brain functioning at its best and prevent numerous other health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancers.  Drinking plenty of water will help hydrate your skin and your body.  It also flushes toxins out of your body and helps you concentrate.
• Relax.  This natural unwinding technique is a key to health and well-being.  As a result of relaxation, you may experience more energy, better sleep, enhanced immunity, increased concentration and problem-solving abilities, great efficiency, smoother emotions and fewer physical reactions to stress.  Relaxation has also been known to decrease muscle tension and blood pressure and increase blood flow, which is good for the heart.  Relaxation can occur through taking a hot bath, reading a book, getting a massage or taking a few deep breaths.  Professional methods of relaxation include visual imagery, body awareness, and progressive muscle relaxation.
• Laugh. It’s no joke. Laughter is the best medicine.  Laughter has the ability to increase the “feel good” hormones in the body, called endorphins.  Laughter boosts the immune system, which contributes to overall healthiness.  Finding humor in daily situations can even reduce stress, lower depression and help your mind and body heal.
• Just say NO.  Do  you find yourself saying “yes” to everything that is asked of you, even if it is something you really do not want do?  Always saying yes is not healthy.  It often over-commits you, which can cause stress and fatigue.  Saying no allows you to honor existing obligations and dedicate quality time to those commitments.  Saying no to things that you have always done but are tired of doing, allows you to try new things.
• Create a bucket list.  A bucket list can act as a road map for “me time” today and into the future.  A bucket list is a list of goals, dreams and life-experiences that are important for you to experience within your lifetime.  Bucket lists help you maximize every moment of your existence and live your life to the fullest.  A bucket list helps you identify purpose and meaning because it provides reminders about what is important in life, what you have done and where you want to go.