A few months ago I noticed that I was feeling more exhausted than usual because of my poor eating habits and lack of proper hydration. I started doing some of the following Microsteps to get some of my energy back. Microsteps make taking care of my body and well-being more manageable, and succeeding in smaller steps empowered me to make bigger changes.
The most effective Microstep I’ve been using is replacing dessert with a healthy option. I recently realized I was treating myself to dessert, candy, or mini chocolate bars almost every day. It was most likely a stress response, and it didn’t have much to do with hunger. Instead of reaching for high-sugar snacks, now I treat myself with banana and oat smoothies (sometimes kale too), yogurt with granola, or sliced fruit with unsalted almonds on the side.
I’ve also started to prepare any groceries I buy by cutting and packing them away in the fridge or freezer right away. It makes it so much easier to grab and go for breakfast and lunch, especially on mornings when I’m running behind. Incorporating this Microstep has helped me reconnect with my family and find new ways for us to take care of ourselves together.
To stay focused, I also started blocking 15 to 30 minutes before and/or after meetings to give myself time to review materials, complete important tasks, or take a quick walk to reset. The smallest changes can have the biggest impact, and this Microstep has been very useful to prevent burnout.
Switching to a virtual setting in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic had its own set of challenges, and maintaining relationships virtually was part of that. I started connecting with colleagues better by asking follow-up questions after they shared a personal detail, or their favorite unwinding activity during the weekend. It’s inspirational to hear what close colleagues are doing to take better care of themselves. It sparks new self-care ideas that I can try!
If I could go back in time, I’d tell my younger self about a quote by Charles R. Swindoll, “Life is 10% of what happens to you, and 90% of how you react to it.” I’d also remind myself that even though I may not complete everything on my daily to-do list, the smaller tasks are still wins towards achieving bigger goals — whether personal or professional.
Personally, I get a lot of joy from anything related to flowers: prints, candles, perfumes, décor, and more! Whenever I need a reset from stress, I stop by Trader Joe’s to make my own floral arrangement with the help of my mom who loves planting and gifting flowers. Sometimes we’ll make our own bouquet from roses and hydrangeas in our backyard. We’ll brew our favorite cup of green tea and walk around our backyard to look at the gorgeous blooms, which helps clear our minds and boost our moods every time.
I also loved attending the Power of Breath workshop recently. I was able to practice the breathing techniques right at my desk. It’s so convenient. By focusing on longer breaths, I found a new way to be more present with myself within just a few minutes. This workshop reminded me of how our bodies naturally respond to stress, which restricts our breathing, makes us foggy thinkers, and tires us out faster. Taking just a few minutes of each day to focus on my breathing helps me refocus and reset when I need it most.