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For health, happiness, physical and mental well being, taking care of yourself is crucial. No one else can ensure that you get enough sleep, take time to recharge, exercise regularly, spend time doing the things you love and with the people you care about, and treat your body well through things like regular massage…the motivation and execution must come from within. But how is that possible when our schedules are packed, our priorities are many, and the world seems to be screaming, “go, go, go!”?

Even those who are passionate about the importance of these elements of a healthy, balanced life such as massage therapistsyoga teachers, and personal trainers often have a tough time scheduling the necessary self care in their own lives. It’s all too easy to be so focused on the needs of clients, family, friends, pets, etc, that your own needs, your own health – both physical and mental, are neglected. Here are some tips for breaking this cycle and finding the time to take care of yourself.

It’s not just for you.

Embracing this fact can alleviate much of the undue guilt we tend to carry around when taking time for ourselves. Activities that lead you to feel happy, improve your health, and reduce stress aren’t only wonderful for you, but they improve the quality of life of those around you as well. When you have a peaceful evening with your children following a challenging yoga class, versus feeling overwhelmed and tired the whole family is happier. When you address those nagging aches and pains through a therapeutic massage you can more fully enjoy life with those you love. When you return to the office after a long run or workout in the gym where you had the time and space to clear your mind, allowing you to come up with a creative new solution that had been facing your team, everyone wins. When you prepare healthy, satisfying meals filled with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains everyone you invite to your table benefits.

Involve others in your planning.

While it might not be easy for you to accept how important it is to take the time to take care of yourself, chances are the most important people in your life are already fully on board. Enlist their help to create a schedule that works, fitting in the things you need to focus on your health and well being. Maybe this means your spouse picks up the kids and makes dinner twice a week, a friend stops by to let your dog out on the days you fit in an early workout before heading to the office, or you talk to your co-workers about which days work best to take a longer lunch for your appointments with a massage therapist or personal trainer. Even better, find someone who wants to join you! When you join forces with a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or family member you are more likely to stick to your new healthy habits. You could meet up for workouts, compare recipes, and share meals.

Make a schedule and stick to it.

Don’t simply say, “I will go to yoga classes when I have time.” Look at the schedule and your plans for the week, and add two classes to your calendar, moving appointments and making arrangements as needed (see above!) Don’t say, “I’ll try to eat healthier.” Carve out an hour or two on the weekend to find a few healthy recipes and shop for the ingredients. If your weeknights are especially hectic you might even want to get a jump start on the prep work such as washing and chopping veggies. Make extras so you have enough for lunch the next day. Make appointments with your massage therapist and personal trainer for the next month or two rather than waiting until you have free time and hoping they are available.

Take the time to take care of yourself. The most worthwhile investment you can make is one in yourself!

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