Most of the Baby Boomers that I know are either continuing in their jobs because their retirement funds are not quite there yet, or starting new businesses, or taking care of grandkids or elderly parents. We are so busy that it’s sometimes difficult to find time for friends. This can lead to a lot of stress, sometimes good stress if you love helping with the grandchildren, but it can seem like an overload just the same.
For the nation to have a week completely designated to simplifying our lives means that it’s not only Baby Boomers who are living stressful lives, but everyone! Let’s all take advantage of this week to STOP and take a good look at how we can best make our lives a little simpler. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Set aside an hour this week to take an inventory of your household “stuff”. Are there too many dishes cluttering your kitchen? Can you donate those old curtains that you’ve been saving for the last ten years to a charity? How about the printer that stopped working last July? Start a list with two columns. In the first column write down items that you haven’t used in the last five years or have been broken for more than six months (you aren’t really going to get around to fixing them…); in the second column write down the date that you will remove them from the house by. Then act on your list one item at a time until you have cleared some of the clutter from your life. There’s nothing like a good purge to make us feel all clean and bright!
2. The best way to get all of the things on your “to do” list completed is to take time for meditation every day. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but when you try it, you will see for yourself what a difference ten minutes in the morning can make. Start by relaxing your shoulders: sit up straight in a comfortable chair or couch, then squeeze you shoulders in and up toward your ears, and hold for five seconds. Next, squeeze those shoulders down toward your feet for five seconds. Then relax, and gently roll your shoulders around. When your shoulders are relaxed, you will be more comfortable. Close your eyes and inhale deeply, thinking the words peace and joy (or any mantra that appeals to you and makes you feel calm), and then exhale slowly, thinking peace and joy again. Imagine that your breath is coming in and out of your heart as you repeat your mantra. Exhale longer and slower than you inhale, and as an added bonus, you will lower your blood pressure. When you begin your day with a clear head your work is easier, you get more done, and you feel less stressed. Set a timer so that you don’t have to think about the time and when you hear it go off, take one more deep, full, breath as you open your eyes and start your day with a smile.
3. Evaluate your commitments. This is a tough one for most of us, but necessary, none the less. Take a good look at everything that you do on a weekly basis and make a list of those that give value to your life, or that you love to do, and another column of those that are perhaps not in line with your life’s priorities. Anything that you’ve committed to, out of guilt or pressure from others, should get a serious, questioning, re-look. Decide how you can drop even one task that falls into category two and then take action. Learning how to say no is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Even if it frees up 20 minutes a week, that’s twenty minutes that you can do something for yourself, to keep yourself healthy and well, so go for it!
Since August is also National Foot Health Month, I’m including instructions on how to complete a lovely self massage that’s great for your feet and can help remove some of those extra stress hormones coursing through your body. You can use that 20 minutes you’ve freed up from those old, nonessential priorities, to massage your feet and meditate!
Sit comfortably in a chair and place your right ankle on your left thigh. Take all of the fingers of your left hand and place each one between your toes – this may be a little awkward, but give it a try. Then use that hand to rotate your foot around while keeping your fingers between the toes. Complete about 8 circles in one direction and then 8 in the opposite direction. Next, spread your toes apart while releasing your fingers, and use your hand to flex the toes in one direction, then the other. Now gently massage the ball of your foot with your thumbs for about 30 seconds. Then use your fists to gently pound the bottom of your foot, waking up the circulation for another 20 seconds. Do one last ten second massage of the entire foot and then look at both feet. You will notice that the coloring is slightly different and, the foot you’ve just massaged looks healthier than the other one! Now switch and give your left foot the same treat.
Best of Health,