The Importance of Scheduling ‘Me’ Time

There are 3 topics that we strive to discuss in this forum; ‘me’ time, self care and self reliance. For the next 3 Mondays, I will be providing a brief overview on each of these topics and why I think they are the 3 topics hat we need to focus on. 

‘Me’ Time

All of us need a few minutes each day to focus on ourselves.  The importance of scheduling  ‘me’ time cannot be overstressed.  By unplugging from others or your work, you allow your mind to take a break.  This allows you to reset.  According to Happify Daily, women have 25 hours of leisure time each week while men have 28 hours.  Using snippets of time to focus on yourself will improve your relationships, make you more productive and can set a great example for those around you, especially children.

The amount of time is not as important as what you do for that time.  I use a 30 minute time period but this is a random number I picked out because I like to exercise or walk for a minimum of 30 minutes each day and this is my main form of ‘me’ time. Walking outdoors is a huge stress reliever for me. This also allows me to take pictures of my favorite animals or views.

You get to pick out what you want to do and for how long. You may be in a season of life where you have a newborn (or two) and there never seems to be time for anything else. You may be caring for an elderly parent or family member and it may seem that you do not have a minute for yourself. You may be the caregiver of an adult child with special needs who needs your undivided attention. You could be single and responsible only for yourself.  You may be in charge of a household with a partner and children or young adults under your roof.

Your situation is your situation. I am going to challenge you to change your words from ‘I don’t have time for me’ to ‘How can I find time for me?’ The only person limiting this is YOU!

The first place to find time is to quit reading this post and pick out a different activity! Replacing your screen time on social media is the easiest place to find time.  Analyzing your leisure time to identify blocks of time is the next thing.  You can use our Activity Journal
to help you keep track of your activities over the course of the week to see where you are duplicating effort.

Remember that our group came up with a list of 30 Things You Can Do During ‘Me’ Time.  There are other tools that you can use under our Resources table.

Start small and work your way up to 30 minutes. It may mean that you wake up a few minutes early or stay up a few minutes later but make a promise to yourself to make this a priority.  Make an appointment with yourself.  By being intentional you will find that this becomes your new normal.

Ten Ways to Decrease Holiday Stress

The weeks between Thanksgiving week and New Years can be very stressful during most years.  2020 is no exception with COVID cases increasing across the county.  As you continue to work on taking care of yourself, look for opportunities each day to help combat this.  Let’s look at a ten ways to help decrease daily stress during this holiday season.

Ten Ways to Decrease Holiday Stress

Savings

    • Financial stress can cause medical problems so look for ways to not overextend yourself.  Did you make a holiday budget?  Scrub your gift list.  Draw names and set limits on family gifts.  Set spending limits.  If you have to buy something, can you buy it from someone locally?  If not, search the internet for any savings you can find.  

Say No

    • You are in control of your daily schedule. If someone is trying to convince you that they need your help in order to complete a task or to run an errand, feel free to say ‘no’.  Politely, of course.

Schedule ‘Me Time’

    • This is a great month to continue to work on this. This is a priority and trumps anything else.  Don’t say yes to another commitment if it means you lose this time.  Say no so that you can say yes to yourself.  If you need to find the time to do this, use our Activity Journal to find the time.

Shut Up

    • Do you talk just to hear yourself talk? Ha!  I think this goes back to my high school classroom days.  Speak less and listen more.  Listen and ask questions, especially if you live with someone elderly.  Write down what you learn.  Capturing your family’s stories is priceless.

Sing

    • Turn on some music during your down time. You don’t have to carry a tune to enjoy this.  Trade one Netflix episode with music videos while you are cooking dinner, folding clothes or cleaning up.  Listen to new genres if you are feeling brave.

Simplify

    • As you are going through your holiday decorations, purge anything that you are not using this year. Gift it to someone else who can use it.  If you can’t find an individual who can use it, donate it to your local  charitable donation center.  Reducing clutter can be calming.  Do you really need a tree in each room?  If the answer is yes, then put it up.  If the answer is no, keep it simple.

Sleep

    • Strive to get at least 8 hours of sleep every day. Work backwards to determine your bedtime.  For example, if you have to be up at 6 am, you need to be winding down by 9 pm so that you can turn off lights at 10 pm.  Maybe you need to begin turning off electronics at 8:30.  Play with your daily routine so that you have an unhurried morning routine.

Soak In a Tub

    • Pamper yourself. Use a bath bomb or essential oils to improve the ambiance.  Candles are a nice addition if you have the shelf space.  If you don’t have a tub, soak in a hot shower for five extra minutes. Let the water hit your upper back and practice your neck, shoulder and upper back stretches while you relax.

Solitude

    • Find a quiet place to read, knit, paint or meditate. You pick your activity.  You may be in cramped quarters but speaking to the others you live with and working out a schedule where there is nap time, bath time or quiet time will help everyone out.  Use our member’s recommendations if you need ideas on what to do.

Stop Complaining

    • Instead of pointing out the negative aspect of something, find something positive to say instead. Purposefully think about what you are going to say and figure out how to say it with a positive spin.  This can change your family’s culture if all agree to work on this.

Sunshine

    • Shorter days increase the chance that you may feel depressed. Find short blocks of time to take a short walk outside or to sit by a window facing the sun so that you can just shut your eyes and ‘sunbathe’.  If this is not an option, there are lighting fixtures you can buy to help with this.

Pick one or more topics to work on each day and you will see an improved outlook.  Be intentional about what you are doing.  Share this information with others in your circle and work on these things together.  

Taking care of yourself should be a priority despite the season. Continue to find ways to make your personal situation better.  Review the list, pick a topic and make a plan.  

 

 

 

Simplify Your Holiday Gift Giving and Gain Financial Health

It is Money Monday!

We will continue to destress by having you work on decreasing your financial stressors. Worrying about how to pay for all of your bills can make you physically sick so we want to work on decreasing the amount of money that you owe. You can simplify your holiday gift giving and gain financial health.  

For those of you that are new to this group, I believe that each one of you needs to be financially literate. I don’t want you to stay in a toxic home or relationship because you cannot afford to leave. I do not have any special certifications in this field. I am just sharing my thoughts with you like I share with my kids.

We began our conversation about how to pay for Christmas on September 25th. Three months before Christmas.   I asked if you preplan, budget and prepay for your holiday gifts and expenses or do you spend what you want and worry about it the following year? If you are in the latter group, I want for you to take the next 18 months to convert to a plan where you prepay for all of your holiday gifts and expenses. Yes, a good old fashion Christmas Savings account!

Although the MarketPlace article is from 2018, the average Christmas debt was $1054 and half paid it off within 3 months. Another 29% paid it off in 5 months. Some were still paying on the debt when the next holiday season rolled around.

Let’s walk through an example using my immediate family to see what kind of money we are talking about.

I have 2 parents, 1 mother-in-law, 1 spouse, 3 children and 2 boy/girl friends, 5 brothers + spouses, 4 in-laws + spouses, and 20 nieces and nephews. That is 47 individuals. If I gave each of them a gift and limited my costs to the following this is how much it would cost me.

$10 apiece = $470

$20 apiece = $940

$25 apiece = $1175

$50 apiece = $2350

I will have to decide if I am going to give everyone a gift or do we draw names to limit how many gifts we will exchange. You know that I am going to give my spouse and kids more than one gift. What kind of limits will I place on myself? Maybe I can gift them my time or talents instead.

What about the other special people in your life? Do you factor in your co-workers, employees, friends, church family members, angel trees, mailman, newspaper carrier, sports team coaches, teachers, housekeeper, lawn service, Christmas family donations, etc. When we add them in, it gets scary really quickly. Where does it end? Which of these things can you remove from your list? Again, maybe your time or talents would be a better way to show them you care. Maybe you spread your gifts out over the year instead of all in one month?

What about decorations, holiday outfits, pjs, holiday cards, special meals and drinks? What else can you add to this list?

If it is too stressful to think about prepaying (saving) for this in 2020, then use this year to keep strict records so that you can use 6-9 months of 2021 to save up for the 2021 holidays.

This year is so different for all of us. You have 5 weeks before Thanksgiving week. Your financial situation may or may not be different this year but I am going to challenge you to use this time to make a promise to yourself that you will limit holiday spending in some way this year. Sit down for dinner with your family and talk about it openly. Talk about it at work. I guarantee you that someone will be grateful to hear that you will not have a gift exchange this year.

You can make this decision for yourself and can just announce that you are taking a break this year. You are allowed to do this!

Is this too much for you? Start small. Make a promise to yourself that you will not buy any new holiday decorations this year. What can you reuse or repurpose? How can you simplify your decor? Do you really need a Christmas tree in each room? If you do, do not buy anything new for any of them this year.

For today, without thinking hard, write down ONE thing you will not buy this holiday season.

Me? Christmas Santas.

What about you? Leave a comment below and share your first thought.

mindfulness word cloud

Is Your Mind Full or Mindful?

Mindfulness Monday!
 

Is your mind full or mindful?  It sounds really corny but this is a question you need to ponder.  How are you doing?  How are you feeling?  Do you feel that your mind is cluttered?  Are you being pulled in too many directions?

 

Focusing on yourself is not selfish. Building in ways to combat the daily stress that you face is going to make you mentally stronger. There are many ways to calm our minds. Whether it is yoga, sitting quietly in a room and reading or journaling or listening to Tibetan bells while sitting quietly meditating, there are many tools available to help you with this. You need to experiment with finding the method that is most soothing to you.

 

Some of my girlfriends cannot listen to the raindrops because they feel that it makes them want to pee but for others, it’s ok. See what is right for you.

 

Is meditating a foreign concept to you? It certainly wasn’t something I grew up doing but I have found that this is a useful strategy when I just need to go to another room to get away from others or the noise around me.

 

I have listened to all kinds of videos to see what I like. I have determined that I don’t want someone talking to me telling me what to do or how to breathe. What I do love is when I am sitting on my back porch during a rainstorm. This is what led me to explore the raindrop videos and the raindrops with Tibetan bells are now my favorite.

 
I challenge you this week to go out of your comfort zone and to find ONE new method to soothe your mind. You get to chose if  your mind is full or mindful?. It can be walking, meditating, reading a book, listening to music, knitting or taking a nap. There is no wrong way to do this. You just need to look for something that works for you.
 

You choose.

Mental illness awareness text with Lime Green ribbon color on helping hand on old aged wood background

Reducing the Stigma of Mental Illness

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week so how appropriate that we spotlight this topic today. The National Association of Mental Illness, NAMI, is running a series of videos and blogs this week to hear the lived experiences of individuals who face the stigma of mental illness every day.  Reducing the stigma of mental illness is so important in order for us to move forward with everyone getting the care that they deserve.

There are some statistics on the site that cover many aspects of the demographics of who is impacted by this. If you look at them carefully, you will see that you are in contact with someone in all of these groups every day. You never know who is struggling with mental illness so be KIND to everyone who crosses your path.

Some of the statistics show that:

  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
  • 1 in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year

Take the time to educate yourself.  Maybe someone in your household is struggling with this at this time.  If you are the one in need of these services, reach out and schedule an appointment. There is NO shame in admitting this. In this time of COVID you have many options available on how to receive care. In-person or Telehealth visits are now available all across the country. This is one of the great things that has come out of these trying times.

If you have lost your job and no longer have insurance coverage, there are many sources available where you can receive services for free or for reduced costs.  Please know that you are not alone.

Read up. Reach out to your primary care physician. Reach out to someone. Reach out to me if you don’t know where to start.  The hardest step is the first one.  Visit nami.org to see the great resources that are available to you.

REDUCE THE STIGMA…

Woman daydreaming as she looks at a beautiful sunset.

Reducing the Stigma of Mental illness

Mournful Monday…

 

I am usually an upbeat type of person but today I sat through several presentations on how COVID-19 has impacted our children and their caregivers. The information was limited to North Carolina but the speakers stated that we are following the trend seen across the country.

 

The number of child abuse cases, suicide cases and how many are reporting signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety is increasing. The number of ‘accidental discharges’ from firearms has increased. Behind this is an increase in the accidental overdoses of medications with opioids being the number one medication that is used.

How fitting that today is International Overdose Awareness Day. I am lifting hugs and prayers to those of you who have lost loved ones to this.

 

This is not a new concern to those of you living with others who have been struggling with these issues or who work in this field. Being isolated in our homes and not being able to interact with others is going to cause these type of issues to worsen. Most of us are social butterflies and even those introverts among us crave more human interactions.

 

Reducing the stigma of mental illness by talking about mental health in an open manner needs to be a family affair. You have to be able to confide in one another without being shamed so that you or your loved ones can engage with care in a timely manner.

 

You need to be able to have open conversations with your children and other family members so if one of their friends ‘cries out for help’, they will know that they can reach out to someone to get them the care that they need. They need to know that they can come to you if they need help.

 

What if it is you who needs the help? Have you hit the end of your rope? Do you have someone to confide in?

 

You may have taken over caring for your elderly parent or other family members. Do you have a support team in place to give you a break?

 

You cannot help others if you are not taking care of your personal needs. For some, daily doses of selfcare may be enough. 30 minutes a day of ‘me time’ may keep you from lashing out at your loved ones.

 

‘Me time’ may not be enough. Then what?

 

The good news is that there is even more money being funneled to community programming and treatment centers to help counteract these issues. You may have lost your insurance and feel like you don’t have any options. Traditional practices have adopted telehealth visits and this makes care available in every state.

 

If you don’t know where to start or who to call, click on the link below. I am sharing the National Hotline Number 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for you to store or use. They can assist you with finding a location near you or can direct you to an agency who can assist regardless of your ability to pay.

 

I have a special request or call to action for you today.

 

Pick up your phone and text/call/FaceTime/Whatspp/Skype someone who lives alone or is an elderly friend or parent. Your voice may be the only one they hear today.

 

Let’s work together to break the cycle.

 

 

Compound Interest Is Your Friend

It’s Money Monday!

So I had someone ask why their daughter should start contributing to her retirement plan at age 21.

The answer? Compound interest!

There are all kinds of charts that will show you how investing small amounts consistently over time will give you the returns you need to retire comfortably.   Compound interest is your friend.

I wasn’t able to begin investing for my retirement until 15 years after I graduated from high school in 1980.  I didn’t pass the poverty threshold of $12,490 until I was 10 years beyond my high school graduation. It was another 5 years before I was employed in a group practice and actually began contributing to something other than social security.  A 401K?  What is that?

When we first sat down to begin educating ourselves, it was pretty daunting. They gave us the advise of projecting how much we would need if we wanted to live off 80% of our salary. The advice has drastically changed over the last 20 years but most of the financial gurus that I follow now say you are financially independent if you have 20-25X of your projected annual expenses in your savings/retirement accounts.

So I started late, but now, at age 58, I can quit working if I choose to. We choose to live way below our means so we could pay off over $150K in student loans, save for our three kids college expenses and save money for ourselves. We invested in stocks. We used a budget until we didn’t need to.

So my point? It is never too late to begin this process. By starting in your early 20s, you will have time on your side and you can rely on compound interest to help you reach your goals. Compound interest is your friend. 

The Changing Seasons of Life

The changing seasons of life will impact each woman differently. You may be about to embark on your college experience, a new relationship, ending a relationship or becoming an empty nester. Each of these will bring a new challenge to you.  Are you ready for your new adventure?

My youngest child is 22 and I moved her out of her college apartment this weekend. I can remember moving her into her college dorm 4 years ago and then crying as I drove back to my hometown. My husband thought we should be celebrating and here I was with tears streaming down my face.

We were officially empty nesters. Back to where we started. Now I could do whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to. Right? Why was I so sad?

I was mourning the end of a great season of my life.

How many of you are transitioning to a different season of life? Everyone’s journey is so different. You could be raising your own child, someone else’s child, your parent, a fur baby or taking care of yourself. Maybe you decided to put your career on pause or decided to retire earlier than you had planned.

This past spring was stressful with all of the altered celebrations and milestones. This fall looks like it will be just as challenging. How did you do with all of the changes? Looking back, is there something you would have done differently?

The last week of July signaled the end of our summer for many years as my world revolved around the school calendar. I no longer have to look at the year through that lens.

So what does the rest of 2020 look like for you?

Are you working on the frontlines and considering a career change? Are you still trying to redefine what your new business model will look like? Did you lose your employment and still have no available options? Did your business flourish due to the recent events? What about your partner? Who else in your household has uncertain plans?

All of you will fall somewhere on this spectrum. If you are looking at new opportunities, keep your eyes wide open. Maybe it is time to take a deep dive into your personal skill set and redefine who you will become in this next year.

If you find that you need to pivot into a new career or path, the hardest thing about this whole process is giving yourself permission to do this. Guess what? You are allowed to do this.

Is it scary? YES!

Will it be hard? PROBABLY…

Will it be worth it? ABSOLUTELY!

We have a large group of friends who have all kind of life experiences. Would anyone like to share their story about how the changing seasons of life impacted you?   I would love to learn from your stories and know that some in this group need a hug and a little inspiration right now. 

2020 is the Year of the Staycation

It is Funday Monday! The week of July 4th is usually a relaxing time for most families as it is usually a short work week with fireworks, cookouts and maybe a long weekend.

COVID is disrupting normal summer travel plans with many vacation trips being cancelled.  We need look at alternative ways to enjoy the great outdoors this year. Better yet, with some preplanning, you may be able to do it in an inexpensive manner as well.

As with everything that has hit us these last 3-4 months, this week may be a bit subdued. Just because you cannot take your normal vacation does not mean you cannot dream about what you would like to do. Better yet, with some preplanning, you may be able to do it in an inexpensive manner as well.

Do we all agree?  2020 is the Year of the Staycation!

Begin researching what there is to do in your hometown, county, state and region. Even better, look for no-cost or low-cost forms of entertainment.

Since we need to factor in social distancing, I recommend looking at outdoor activities. Alltrails is a great website or app that lets you search by zip code, town, state, etc. I entered my zip code and it gave me a list of 68 places to go take a hike! 68!!!

Not every location will have that many options but it is a start. You can also search for your state or national parks in your areas.

Let’s start brainstorming how you can fit one into your plans. This is a great way to practice some self-care. Focusing on your mental health is so important right now and engaging with nature will help counteract depression and anxiety.

After you pencil in your destination, let’s plan your budget. Food? Housing? Transportation costs? Entry fees? If you can keep it to day trips or one night stays, even better!

Remember that you are not going to go into debt for these mini-trips. Plan your budget and when you have the money in hand to take your trip and can cover all costs, then away you go!

Visit our Resources page https://whoistakingcareofyou.com/resources/ for the Plan Your Trip Activity worksheet to help you begin the planning process.  

Happy Trails!

Woman daydreaming as she looks at a beautiful sunset.

Coping With Stress and Anxiety During a Pandemic

Is anyone else following the increased number of cases of COVID19 in many states? 

How is your mindset dealing with it? As I speak to family and friends across the country, there are so many different coping styles.  Some are out and about and taking the mindset that the sooner they get it, the quicker they can be ‘normal’ again.  Others are completely holed up at home and never leave.  Many of you are essential workers and don’t have a choice but to go out every day.  

For DeStress Monday, I want for you to grab a small piece of your favorite chocolate bar and take a few minutes to read through Dr. Rachel Zoffness’ article posted below. I am sharing this article for the content but I also want you  to focus on the websites and apps listed under #3.   Coping with stress and anxiety during a pandemic is very stressful so it is  very important to develop tools that you can use when needed.  There are many options listed here so explore them and find what works best for you.

Tools for Coping With Stress and Anxiety During a Pandemic

There are some great relaxation and meditation exercises that you can do when coping with stress and anxiety.  Studies have shown if you do this two to three times a day or as needed, that this can be as effective as medication. They come in all different lengths so whether you take a break every hour and do this for five minutes or a longer session twice a day, find a practice that works for you. Physical disabilities are not an issue. You can choose from the Raisin Meditation sessions or from one of Dr. Brach’s sessions. They can all be accessed from a smart phone.

After you explore several sessions, pick one series and use it for the week. Schedule it into your daily planner and make yourself commit to it.

CLOSE YOUR EYES AND TAKE A DEEP BREATH…

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/pain-explained/202003/anxiety-contagion-tips-relief?fbclid=IwAR0sPHzix_6McbcLKTQ-OVWmc1cWhwiV8wqmbqtxOQCCFNFiTbICLlfKIrA#_=_