Doing too much? Saying ‘yes’ too many things? No time in life for you? Georgia Harding knows the feeling…

Every day I set out to achieve more than I realistically can. Like many women, I wear many hats and the two things I find that I consistently sacrifice in my busy life is exercise and meditation. It just so happens that these two things are integral to my physical and emotional health. Sound familiar?

Recently I asked a group of close friends what they thought my strengths were in a self-evaluation exercise I was doing (another story for another day!). The overriding response included determined, loyal, caring, perfectionist. It just so happens that these qualities happen to be at the root of my undoing when it comes to self-care and preservation.

You see I can’t help but strive to be the best I can be and in everything, I undertake. I’ve always held a bit of an all-or-nothing approach. So each day I set out intending to include an hour of exercise and meditation into my schedule – many days I fail, but I’ve learned a few things that help me to succeed and stress less in the process.

I’ve realised as a Mumma of two busy kids, a husband who often works away and without family support (or a nanny – wishful thinking), I can’t always count on setting a fixed schedule. Some weeks I feel like the universe is conspiring to prevent me from taking time out for myself. I’m having to accept the simple fact that I don’t have chunks of time each day to exercise or meditate at this point in my life (I’m hoping this might change in the future). So this is what I do…

Schedule it
If it’s not scheduled, it’s not gonna happen. Every Sunday, I sit and look at my week ahead. I write down roughly what I think I can manage to achieve each day. Sometimes it includes meeting a friend for a walk, other days a gym class or simply a walk to the end of my street and back.

Commit without attachment
I write it down with commitment, but without attachment. You see sometimes things just come up or no matter how early I rise to meditate, my kids are up earlier still and climbing all over me. In the past, I’d get so frustrated by the fact that I’d only managed a few minutes of meditation or didn’t make the gym. And voila – another stress or frustration enters my life, something I could do without. Plan it, turn up and start it and if it doesn’t go to plan, don’t stress it. Try again later or tomorrow.

Chunk it down
Where in the past if I couldn’t exercise for at least an hour, I’d write the day off for exercise. Now, any activity I manage I accept gratefully as a bonus. If I plan to go for a walk in the morning but all hell breaks loose, the kids drag their feet and suddenly I find myself with a whole lot less time than planned, instead of aborting my chance to exercise and sulking to my husband that I’ll never be fit, I take the time I have and go anyway, even if I only have 10 minutes up my sleeve.

In fact, multiple studies have demonstrated that small bursts of intense exercise (for a total of just six minutes per week) is as effective for fitness, strength, weight management and cardiac health as longer exercise plans (of six hours per week). So, time is no excuse – we can all find six minutes per week. It’s the same with meditation. I have found small increments are wondrous for my mental health. There are loads of great apps that can help guide you.

Get involved with the kids
I quite often get out on the skateboard or bounce on the trampoline with my kids – exercise is about movement, pure and simple.  Bush walks are an absolute fave in our house. So now, instead of all or nothing, I take a ‘something is better than nothing’ approach and move or meditate when I can. These small things add up and do make a difference to the quality of my life. So if you see me doing a few star jumps whilst waiting for an email to open or find me meditating in my car whilst waiting for my kids to finish school – know I’m practising a little self-preservation!

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Founded by Georgia, a mum, cookbook author, naturopath with 19 years experience and the creator of The Well Nourished Lunch Box Challenge, Well Nourished delivers wholesome, easy-to-follow recipes targeted to busy families. Readers flock to Well Nourished for inspiring health advice and free, nourishing, family friendly recipes. // www.wellnourished.com.au