The busiest time of the year for fitness is also the most stressful. With a seemingly endless to-do list and little time to do it, the first quarter of the year is ripe for major burnout. And if you’re running your own fitness studio or gym, you likely have limited resources to help take the load off your plate.
How do you stay on top of it all without getting overwhelmed? “It’s important to not only be practical and ask for help where you need it but also to give yourself a spiritual and mental break,” says Kathy Gruver, PhD and author of Conquer Your Stress with Mind/Body Techniques.
No matter how busy things get, make sure to set aside some time (even just a few minutes) for yourself every day. “You can’t give from an empty cup, so cultivating time for you is imperative,’’ says Alexa Silvaggio, a service-based yoga instructor, retreat leader, and speaker based in New York City and Los Angeles.
Take a deep breath and read these tips designed to help you take care of business while taking care of yourself, too.
MAKE TIME TO MEDITATE
If you think you’re too busy to meditate or feel it’s just too hard, Gruver suggests a technique that can be done anytime and anywhere. “You simply concentrate on your breath, the rise and fall of the chest,” Gruver explains. “On the inhale you think, ‘I am.’ And on the exhale you think, ‘at peace.’ And you just keep repeating that with every cycle of inhalation and exhalation. If other thoughts intrude, which they often do, just dismiss them without judgment, return to the breath and think, ‘I am…at peace.’”
Silvaggio says meditating for as little as two minutes makes a difference. “Ironically, creating time for meditation buys you more time,” she says. “It helps us slow down, be more mindful, and actually brings a sense of ease to our nervous system.”
CROSS UNNECESSARY THINGS OFF YOUR TO-DO LIST
“One of the best ways for small business owners to manage stress during this busy season and make time for self-renewal throughout is to create a not-to-do list every day,” says Julie Morgenstern, author of Time Management from The Inside Out.
Think about the things that aren’t a good use of your time and cross them off your list. “The 4 D’s are handy for streamlining your task list,” Morgenstern adds. “You can delete things that are not worth the time at all in context of the busy season, delay things that can wait until later in the year, diminish things that can be done in a more efficient way, and delegate things that someone else can do.’”
PRACTICE COMPASSION WITH YOURSELF
No matter how busy things get, take a step back and remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can. “Most of us spend so much time beating ourselves up for wherever we are physically, mentally, or emotionally,” says Silvaggio. Embrace where you are even if it’s not where you want to be. When you’re nice to yourself, both you and your business will benefit.
STICK WITH A YOGA PRACTICE
When things get hectic, remind yourself that the ancient teachings of yoga emphasize presence, contentment, self-care, and non-judgment, says Silvaggio. Our yoga practice “keeps us in our right mind, so that we can observe ourselves and act in ways that actually make us feel good,” she adds.
EXPLORE ESSENTIAL OILS
Among the biggest benefits of essential oils are stress reduction and inducing a restful night of sleep—both critical during especially busy and stressful times. Some essential oils can minimize a headache or boost energy.
Silvaggio loves Dottera but there are countless brands to choose from that will do the trick. “Simply rubbing some lavender oil on your neck before bed, or invigorating your day with some peppermint oil can totally change your mood,” she says. “It’s definitely a quick and easy fix-your-mood treatment. “
TRY DAILY AFFIRMATIONS
Changing our mind by changing our language does wonders for our outlook. Says Gruver: “Simple affirmations like ‘I have plenty of time, I am surrounded by loving and supportive friends, I am prosperous and abundant, money flows easily to me, I am healthy and well,’ can not only change our attitude and our physiology, but many believe they can change our external circumstances as well.”
How can you be mindful? Start by going about any activity with curiosity, focus and incorporating all of your senses, Gruver says. “Staying mindful and dismissing thoughts as they come in without judging is [one] way to train your mind to be present and respond rather than react,” she adds. “When we are in the present moment there is no stress and we are able to handle events that are stressful with more grace, ease and positivity.”