By Daryl Conner
May I ask you something? You take care of pets all day, and maybe a partner and/or children, or other family members. Who takes care of you? Often that job falls to us, too. Have you ever heard the expression, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it?” Well, sometimes we busy groomers don’t take time to take care of ourselves. Not taking care of ourselves can lead to a variety of problems; burn out, depression, exhaustion, and even illness. What does taking care of yourself look like? Take some time to think about that. The answer will be as unique as you are. Following are some ideas to consider.
Wake up peacefully
Being ripped from the bliss of sleep by the jarring sound of an alarm starts the day with a shot of adrenaline. Arrange to be awakened by soft music instead. Or, get an alarm clock that wakens you with an increasingly bright light instead of sound.
Take a moment to awaken
Don’t leap directly into activity. Arrange your morning so you have 5-10 minutes to stretch, read, or meditate. That tiny fraction of time can set the mood for your entire day.
Even if you are not a breakfast kind of person, make sure you put something healthy in your body before you race out the door; a piece of fruit, a few handfuls of nuts, a low-sugar breakfast bar, perhaps? Your body will work harder for you if you put some decent fuel into it before you charge off to work.
I don’t mean to be a buzz kill, but sucking down coffee all day is going to leave you jittery. Consider buying a nice insulated bottle. I put three ice cubes in mine and fill it up with water. It stays cold all day, and the lid keeps floating dog hair out of it nicely.
Take a break
Figure out a way to schedule breaks in your day. For some people, 5 minutes every hour to stretch, walk outside, grab a snack, or just sit down works well. For others, a 15 minute time-out every few hours does the trick. The important thing is to plan little segments of your day to rest. I know, I know, I can almost hear you protesting. It’s summer, you’re busy, I get it. But it’s ok to take some little slivers of time to rest. You’ll be more productive if you do.
Plan meals ahead
One gift I give to myself is to plan a big crock pot meal every week or two. I make enough to last for two nights and maybe even a lunch or two. I try to make this on the day I figure will be my longest or most difficult. There is not much sweeter than remembering that dinner is all cooked at the end of a hard day. Just the mere smell of a pot of soup or a nice stew when I walk into the kitchen at the end of the day feels like a gift.
Schedule a pamper session
Every once in a while, plan a visit to have a facial, manicure, pedicure, or, better yet, a massage. If that is not in the budget, see if there is a school near you. Often you can receive one of these spa treatments at a fraction of the cost from a student.
Feed your brain
Try listening to books on tape, Ted Talks, or interesting Podcasts while you work. Learning new things and listening to inspiring stories can transport you to a whole new place while you are brushing and scissoring. Alternately, listen to music that uplifts or soothes you, depending on what works best for your mood.
Write a “Worry List”
If your brain is ricocheting around with all the things you need to worry about, write a list of them. Then allow yourself to sit quietly for 5 minutes and go over your list once in the morning and once in the evening. It may seem counterintuitive, but limiting the time you fret about things that worry you will reduce stress in your life.
Make down time a priority
That very full day planner of yours? Take charge and carve a little time out for yourself in there, then honor that time. It might be a full bonus day off in the middle of summer, or a sweet little hour to go hang out in your favorite book store, but make the time then take the time.
Cut down on multi-tasking
Maybe you can make toast for your toddler while you brush your teeth, but that doesn’t mean you should. Multi tasking can be exhausting. Try doing some single tasking. Focus on what you are doing, and then move on to the next thing. This simple step can make you feel much more calm and centered.
If your brain is busy, busy, busy planning all you need to do and take care of, write it down. Keep a notebook or a white board handy and when you think, “Oh, I need to remember to order shampoo” add that to the list. “I have to call the vet about my dog’s annual appointment,” jot that down, too. Juggling a lot of “to do’s” in your head can be tiring. Knowing they are written lets you release the worry that you might forget.
I have a friend who keeps a little basket in the back of her closet. When she is out and about and sees something that makes her heart happy, she picks it up. It might be a juicy ink pen, a jar of bubble soap, or a pretty book mark. It might be a book or some soft fuzzy socks or a bottle of sweet scented lotion. She tosses the items in the basket. If she feels the need for a little treat, she pulls the basket off the shelf and finds it full of small things that delight her. A little time blowing bubbles can’t help but lift anyone’s spirits!
The Big Three
I won’t belabor the point, but eating healthy, getting at least a little bit of exercise, and making sure you get plenty of sleep are the cornerstones to taking care of you. You know it, I know it, but we don’t always do it. Let’s try harder.
It is not selfish to take care of yourself. Studies prove that people who are good at self care are more productive at work, and more present with their family when they are together. There is only one precious you and you deserve to be cared for. Who knows how to do that better than you? ✂