This is a post for all the parents out there. I get it, believe me. Parenting is tough. Probably the toughest job on the planet, without a doubt. It's exhausting, time consuming, physically and emotionally draining, and can take you on the craziest roller-coaster ride of your life. With young kids, there are days it seems like you don't have time to pee, or eat a full meal for yourself (hey, kinda sounds like being a nurse!). Then as kids get a bit older, you are the taxi service, policeman of their social media and internet access, and much more. You are never done. It's NOT easy!!!
It seems like as parents we would clearly get a pass when we say we didn't have time for a workout. How can we possibly be expected to fit that stuff in when we are in charge of these little humans all day? There is too much to do. People are quick to use there busy kids as the first excuse for why they can't work out. Well I'm here to tell you that being a parent is even MORE reason why you should me making time for regular physical fitness in your life. Today I am sharing 3 very important reasons why that is, and 3 helpful tips to get it done.
Why it's important:
1) They are watching you. Kids learn from what they see. What are you showing them? How do you want them to grow and develop in their own lives? It's not a secret that kids (and even adults at times) learn from example. So not only are you in charge of your own health, you are modeling healthy living to your kids. Why should they care about taking proper care of themselves if we aren't even doing it? It's like having parents that smoke and telling their kids not to smoke. Or drinking in excess and then yelling at their teen for coming home drunk from a party. That whole "do as I say and not as I do" model of parenting is certain to fail. If your kids don't see you make something a priority in your own life, then they certainly won't see the need to do it for theirs. Albert Schweitzer said "Adults teach children in three important ways: The first is by example, the second is by example, and the third is by example". And don't worry if, at first, they act like they don't care or have no interest at all. I promise you, after a while it WILL have an impact on them. You just might be surprised, but you can't give up with the first sour face or attitude you get! Stick with it.
2) You will be a happier parent. Parenting can be maddening at times. Let's face it, kids can make your good mood go right down the drain some days. You can start off with the best of intentions, and then... BAM. No one is listening, the fighting and yelling breaks out, and chaos has ensued. Even with the greatest planning, any given day can make you a bit crazed. When you get exercise, you are releasing those pain-relieving and mood-enhancing endorphins that are such a wonderful treat! Not that exercise will get rid of all your parenting issues, but it certainly does wonders to help us cope a bit better. It won't magically change your child's behavior or ward off all disasters, but it can give you enough of a buffer to make it through tough days without losing it. And I bet your kids just might appreciate a happier parent as well. :-)
3) You will have more energy. Who can't use that? Kids or not, we could all use a bit more energy sometimes. It sounds strange to say you can get energy from expending energy, but it is true. Organized exercise or actual physical play with your kids is much more energizing than chaotic busy stress that does nothing but zap your energy. Especially if you have very active children, don't you want to be able to keep up with them? Of course. That certainly makes life a lot more fun for everyone involved. Parenting is busy and exhausting. Get energized the right way so you can get it done!
How to get it done:
1) During nap times or a short TV show: With very young kids, nap time is precious time that needs to be used VERY wisely! Don't get me wrong... there are some times when napping yourself is exactly what you need to do during that time. But if you can start a habit of getting in some quick exercise for yourself at nap time every day, this will be such a valuable thing in the long run. Or, if your kids are past napping age and are watching their allowed TV time for the day, that is your chance to sneak off somewhere else in the house and get it done. 20 minutes on a treadmill, a quick workout video, or your own routine you prefer. You will be so happy that you did if you can do this.
2) Early in the morning, while they are at school, or after their bedtime: There is always the option of getting up early before the kids get up (if you have kids that sleep late!). This takes dedication, but so does anything worth while. If you have school-age kids and you are home at all during the day, that is your chance with zero distraction. Yes, there are tons of other errands to do as well... I know. But if you don't make this a priority, it will not get done. Period. It needs to be just as important as cleaning, doing dishes and grocery shopping. This is your health. After the kids go to bed is also another possibility if they still go to bed early enough. It's never a great idea to workout too close to your own bedtime because it will make it difficult for you to wind down yourself (unless it's relaxing yoga!).
3) Involve your kids. This can be done in many ways! With very young kids, this can just be throwing a ball and running around the yard with them. Try doing tag sprints across the yard with your kids. Make up a simple but fun obstacle course to do together! Cheer them on, get them excited, and have fun with it! Show them that physical fitness is FUN and that feeling strong is amazing. Once they get a bit older, but all means, involve them in more mature workouts. Don't think they can't do it because their "just kids". You would be amazed what kids can and will do when they are given the challenge! I like to let my own kids make up the workout for the day. We do all kinds of fun stuff in our yard like squat jumps, running with high knees, push-ups against the fence, farmers' carries with some weights or light kettlebells, etc.
It's never too late to start either. I don't care if your kids are in high school or college. They are still being molded by things around them every day. They aren't done making all their lifetime habits at this point. And maybe, just MAYBE, they aren't done listening to mom and dad. :-) To make an impact on their own future health and help yours out in the meantime, this is just too important to push aside.
Not to mention, time spent exercising together is time bonding with your child. You are improving your health and spending quality time with them at the same time. That is priceless.
It's time to stop using your kids as your first excuse for not working out, and start making them the number one reason you do!
We say we want something, and then we do everything in our power to make sure it doesn't happen. Does this sound familiar? It is a reoccurring problem for many people, in many different circumstances in life. Have you ever had someone tell you to just get out of your own way? You are your own worst enemy? Or stop shooting yourself in the foot? Then chances are, you have been a victim of your own self-sabotage at some point in your own life.
But how does this make sense? Why would we purposely derail ourselves from our wanted goals and dreams? It seems to go against everything that we want, so why do we do it? Why do we knowingly destroy progress that could be helpful and beneficial for our own future happiness and well-being?
First off, let's recognize that there are many different ways to self-sabotage. It may be comfort eating while trying to lose weight; procrastinating with things we know need to get done; going on a shopping spree when trying to reel in the budget; going back again and again to unhealthy relationships we know we need to end... and the list goes on.
So why do we do it? There could be many reasons why:
-Feeling unworthy: If we don't feel like we "deserve" the good things we are trying to gain for ourselves, then it's easy to tell yourself that you shouldn't have it. In thinking that way, our mind will affect our actions, and we will ultimately do something to destroy and progress we have made.
-The need to be in control: Sometimes it may feel better to some to be in control our own failure, rather than take a risk to see what happens if we truly try. If we can cause the failure on our own, at least we were the ones in control of making that happen.
-Familiarity: For some, it may provide a strange sense of comfort to be in that familiar rut of self-sabotage. If we are not used to things changing for the better, then it actually can feel somewhat "comforting" to stay exactly where we are.
-Perfectionism: If it isn't perfect, then what's the point?
-Protection: Self-sabotage can be used as a safety mechanism to protect yourself from disappointment.
-Punishment: Some may use self-sabotage as a means of punishing one's self when they feel out of control. Ever have one cookie and then say "See? I'm such an idiot. I can't do anything right. So now I might as well just eat the whole box of cookies because I ruined the entire day".
Self-sabotage is coping mechanism that, unfortunately, does more harm than good. It's the "feel good now, worry about consequences later" method. Basically, short term gain = long term pain. It's not helpful in the long run.
But there is hope! Self-sabotage does not have to be your destiny. You actually CAN change that, and I will give you some tips on how.
First, identify the behavior for what it is. Recognize it and take responsibility for it. Pin point what triggers this behavior for you. Is it certain people? Objects? Specific times? Specific feelings that come up in your mind about yourself? Notice what triggers the behavior, and notice what behavior you are acting out. Be AWARE. That is number one. I am writing this entire post to make people more aware of their own behavior, because so much of it is automatic. We tend to have knee-jerk reactions to our emotions in life rather than stopping to think first and pay attention to what is actually happening.
Second, recreate the pattern with a healthy replacement strategy. Once you realize what is happening and how you are responding, it's time to pick a new response. Recreate a pattern that will promote a healthier result for yourself. When you notice yourself getting burning mad for eating just one cookie, stop. Before eating the entire box to punish yourself, instead try thinking of how much you enjoyed the cookie as a treat for the day. Then move along with an activity that will continue to make you feel good about yourself. Go for a walk! Call a friend! Be OKAY with the fact that you had a cookie and move on! No punishment necessary. And you can still go to bed happy with yourself! Stop the ugly pattern, and create a new one.
For people who procrastinate - sometimes we are overwhelmed by a large task that needs to be done, so we would rather do nothing. Try breaking up that giant task into smaller ones with dead lines for yourself to get each one done. That way it is not so overwhelming to think you need to do it all at once. And if exercise is one of those things you procrastinate with because it seems like too big of a task, again, break it up into small segments. Small workouts count too! And that little start could be the beginning of a whole new you.
And if you are someone who struggles with self-worth, feeling like you are not worthy of having life actually go well for you with positive changes, it is time to change this thought pattern. Where are you finding your worth? What makes you worthy of anything? Facebook likes? No. Followers on Instagram? No. Lies that people have told you over and over again that you believe? No. There is a blood stained cross where Jesus Christ gave His LIFE for you. If that doesn't show your worth, then I don't know what else does. And that's all the worth you need. Stop listening to lies and falling into traps of feeling unworthy from sources that don't matter. The cross says different. Believe it.
Once you have created new patterns for yourself, practice these until new habits are formed. Have patience with the process. When you start seeing small changes, be inspired!
Another way to help yourself out of the rut is to start being more grateful. Realize and appreciate the good things in your life. Start doing more for others instead of being immersed in the "me-me-me" way of thinking. This can help you to stop focusing on your own problems.
What else can you do? Be active! The state of your body has a direct effect the state of your mind. How you perceive things and react to things may change if you are more active than you are now. It gives a mental boost that just might spin you right out of your self-sabotage tail spin.
Now go after what you want, take charge of your plans and dreams, and don't ruin it for yourself!!! Become your own hero rather than your own worst enemy. Realize it is possible, you are worth it, and don't FEAR. Just DO. :-)
If we are going to talk about total wellness, I have to bring up the wonderful benefits of essential oils. These are such a stress reliever for me, and so much more. What exactly are essential oils? They are natural compounds extracted from plants that contain the characteristic fragrance of the plant from which they came. These oils are extracted from the plants by a process called distillation using steam. Different oils have different functions due to their properties. I will discuss some of my favorite benefits of these oils in this post, but you will find that there are numerous benefits to your health with a more in depth look at essential oils.
When purchasing oils it is very important that you are confident in the purity of the brand you use. The purest oils that are extracted with extreme care and protected in storage is what you want. The quality and composition of these delicate oils can be damaged if not handled properly. Oils must be kept in dark glass containers to protect them from the sunlight. My favorite oils are from Rocky Mountain Oil. This is a company I truly 100% trust, and you can find them here.
The easiest way to get the benefits from these oils is through an oil diffuser. My favorite one is shown here. This one adds such a beautiful, calming affect to a room, and runs on a timer to make things easier for you. Add some water to the diffuser, then add 3-5 drops of your choice of oil and turn on the diffuser. Using essential oils aromatically can have a very positive effect on emotions and physiology. Having an oil diffuser on can completely change the mood in a room and create a very calming environment. This can be a life saver after a long and stressful shift!
Another way to use essential oils is in a bath. This way you are getting the oils through your skin and also through inhalation. I love to use lavender essential oil with some epsom salt for a very relaxing and stress relieving bath. Since oil and water don't mix, the salt helps to disperse the oil. To try this, use six drops of oil mixed with 2 tablespoons of epsom salt and add to a warm bath. I love the feel of my skin after this, not to mention how relaxed my entire body feels. This type of bath will also help flush toxins from your entire body. Lavender is one of my favorites for helping calm any anxiety and also for helping with sleep. It truly works!!!
Do you lack motivation from time to time? Or maybe all the time? Maybe you're not motivate d to get to the gym, or prep your meals. Peppermint essential oil provides a great boost for your state of mind and energy level. It can increase your alertness and give you a little "pep" in your step to get you going. It is such a clean scent to me and I love diffusing this in my home regularly. Nice alternative to drinking too much coffee (if there is such a thing)!
And one of my very favorite benefits from essential oils is their antibacterial and antiviral properties. Oregano oil itself may be just as effective as antibiotics in killing certain bugs. Research has shown that essential oils from oregano oil may even kill MRSA! Us nurses hate MRSA!!! Just the thought of wearing those isolation gowns makes me break out in a sweat. But an essential oil that fights that? That's pretty amazing, isn't it? You can use the steam treatment yourself to try to rid yourself of a nasty cold or sinus infection by using a blend that contains oregano oil. My favorite is Immune Strength from RMO (click here). Boil a pot of water, then turn heat off and let cool for one minute. Add 3-6 drops of essential oil, use a towel to cover your head, and breathe in the steam. This can do wonders to open up your nasal passages and also help get all those antibacterial and antiviral properties to kill off what's bugging you.
There are many other great uses for essential oils that I will get into in more depth in future posts. Obviously, discontinue use of any oil if any adverse reactions should occur, and do not use directly on your skin without a carrier oil. I would never advise ingesting any oils, although some will say it's okay. Do not use on babies, and use with extreme caution around small children. For now, just know that creating a stress relieving environment at home with a diffuser and some great essential oils can be a life saver and just purely enjoyable.
So aren't new nurses so cute with all their enthusiasm and excitement??? Sorry, if any new nurses are reading this post. This is not to discourage anyone, but just to be real for a minute. We've all had "one of those days", or more realistically, "many of those days". Nursing isn't an easy job, and it certainly isn't for the faint of heart. But you got into this profession most likely for the right reasons, even though you may have second guessed yourself at times.
Now I am not going to lie and say I've never wanted to pour a huge glass of wine or scoop myself an enormous bowl of ice cream after a horrible shift... and I'm also not going to lie and say it will never happen again! But I just want to remind nurses to be aware of what they may do on occasion, verses what they are making habits of to deal with a stressful shift. Don't let your bad shift end up hurting you in the end by causing you to resort to bad habits on a regular basis... be stronger than that! Be aware of the overall effects on your own health that are made by how you handle work stress on a regular basis. It's not easy, and I get that... but don't let the crappy shifts take your health down the drain along with them. You have a life outside of this job to enjoy. Take care of yourself and go enjoy it!
In my opinion, there is no better way to get out frustration and stress than some heavy deadlifts. No word of a lie, I have driven straight to the gym after a bad shift before, in my scrubs and all, to do deadlifts. Bad day all gone. Best feeling ever. Just sayin'.... :-)
Terri Wentzell is a registered nurse with more than 20 years of experience. She is also a certified personal trainer, wellness coach, fitness nutrition coach, and sport yoga instructor.