The answers to this will be a bit subjective, due to the demands and personal makeup of our different lives. As a 46yo woman, wife, mother, business owner, muscle therapist, etc., here are some things that help keep me on track.
- Good sleep. This cannot be overstated, and I am fierce about not only the quantity (min. 6 hours, 8 best), but the quality. I spend an hour with a hot bath and soothing music and meditation to calm my body and mind down before going to bed. I have a great bed and pillow, and I make sure that I am warm and comfortable during sleep. Consequently, I fall deeply asleep about 2 minutes after hitting the pillow, and I wake up when the alarm goes off, refreshed and ready for the day. Well, after one cup of coffee.
- Morning exercise. I have a pretty rigid schedule, but I find that 30 minutes of morning exercise (minimum) in a natural setting, such as a walk on the beach (or somewhere similarly enjoyable) clears away the “cobwebs” physically and mentally, and I feel like it gives me a jump-start on increased energy for the rest of the day. It clears my mind of clutter and makes me feel ready to face the day’s challenges calmly. It works better for me first thing in the morning, because I tend to be too busy or tired later in the day, when it’s easier to blow off.
- Good nutrition. I have high physical and mental demands on me during my workday, and I am sensitive to drops in blood glucose levels (runs in my family). I try to get good quality food (nutritious, moderate fat/sugar/salt intake) at even 2-4 hour intervals throughout the day. Low-fat protein sources, such as soy milk or miso, tend to help me stay awake and alert.
- Productive use of downtime. I have been trying to make a habit of meditating for up to 15-minute intervals through the day during “waiting” periods. These can include the time between appointments, end of the workday, during a bath, etc. Allowing myself to try to “drain of thought” is like a deep breath of refreshing air for my whole self. Which leads me to:
- Take notes. I have always found it difficult to give myself permission to jot down a note (on paper, Post-its, Evernote, my wrist, etc.) to remember something trivial (calling a friend, picking up something at the store, etc). I do not remember these things well while working. When I’ve written the note, I no longer feel the weight of trying to remember, and I can concentrate better on the moment at hand.
- Regular time with family and friends. We make a family habit of eating together and watching a movie together every night. Yes, every night. This requires a fair bit of compromise on all our parts. We have never regretted it, and you don’t ever get the time with your kids back to do over. It makes for a grateful, peaceful evening. As regularly as possible, we try to get together with friends about whom we care deeply. Scheduling ahead helps. Again, we’re never sorry we did, and good times and lasting friendships are shared by all.