It’s that time of year –the last of summer vacations have been taken, a hint of fall coming, and it’s back to school and work. It’s a time that can be both challenging and energizing, with change in the air. There may not seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish everything we set out to do, and we begin to skimp on taking care of ourselves.

During exceptionally busy times, it’s easy to tell ourselves we can skip exercising today, get by on less sleep, go through a fast food drive-through – basically get by with as little attention to our basic needs as possible. What we don’t realize is how counter-productive that is, especially at these times. Running on an empty tank for any period of time will catch up with us sooner or later – leaving us depleted, frazzled and less able to cope with what we have on our plate.

Making well-being a priority at these times – getting enough sleep, exercise and good healthy food – will enable us to be at our best and step up to whatever comes our way more smoothly.

A few ideas:

  • Stay on schedule. Have a morning routine that works for you? Now is not the time to slack off. Whether it’s going for a run, 10 minutes of meditation, or breakfast with your husband or kids, having a consistent routine helps keep us in balance.
  • Speaking of breakfast, starting the day with a healthy one can have a big impact on the rest of your day. Think of it as fueling your body for the day ahead – a breakfast that combines healthy carbs and fiber with some protein is ideal. Short on time? A bowl of whole grain cereal, with sliced bananas or berries and low-fat milk, takes almost no time to prepare, or a healthy smoothie with protein powder and fruit (my go-to) is portable.
  • Get your slumber in. Sleep is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle and you cannot hope to maintain wellness without at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. This is your body’s chance to heal and restore balance, to return you to a full charge, ready to face the next day. Sleep is also cathartic for your mind, shutting off all your thoughts from the day before and starting anew with a fresh perspective. Be sure to keep a consistent routine with your sleep; not only is the length of sleep important, but when you sleep. It can be tempting on days off to stay up later than usual and sleep in late, but you risk disrupting your sleep rhythm.
  • Take a day off. Almost all ultra-successful and productive people insist on taking one full day off a week. Many of us push ourselves to keep working hard, and you may feel like you don’t deserve that day off but time to relax is not deserved, it is necessary for your health and wellbeing. Taking a day off gives you a chance to catch up on things you may keep putting off for the sake of other obligations. Finishing that book you’re only halfway through or getting a massage at the local spa might seem frivolous, but these are soothing to your soul. You are connecting with your inner spirit and what you most value. Most of us, women especially, do a lot for others. Give back to yourself, and take the time to recharge. You’ll come away refreshed, with your spirit feeling fulfilled.
  • Make sure to connect. Staying connected to family and/or friends can feel difficult when we have lots on our plate, but making time for those close to us can help buoy us up during stressful times. If you neglect your connections it can be harder to reach out when you are having a bad time, so even just a brief phone call or quick, thoughtful text or email can do wonders when it comes to keeping your connections. When you have the time, connect in person. Time together with friends and loved ones is most valuable and nourishes the soul. (While you’re at it, lose the technology.)
  • Do your best to stay positive and grateful. When it comes to wellbeing, physical health and fitness are important to maintain, but with everything that can happen in life, a positive mental attitude is just as important.   A positive attitude helps with emotional stability and resilience, making it easier to handle whatever life throws at you. Looking at every difficult situation, obstacle, mistake, and “failure” as an opportunity to simply learn and grow makes it impossible to ever truly fail. Practice gratefulness by appreciating the things you have every day, not lamenting the things you don’t have or haven’t yet attained.

Taking care of ourselves is a popular notion these days and with good reason. By taking care of ourselves and our health – those basics – we’re much more likely to be available to take good care of those people and projects we hold dear.