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During particularly busy times—a work crunch, the holidays, those last few days in the office before a vacation begins, our desire to get it all done sometimes goes into overdrive. We’re confident that we can tackle it all, and while that kind of confidence can be a good thing, it can also lead us to take on too much, creating extra stress and anxiety. It’s important at times like these to mindfully make room for some self-care on our to-do lists.

One way to help ensure self-care during busy times is in setting and respecting expectations and boundaries for yourself — personally and in relation to others. Having a more realistic approach to what you can and should accomplish can help make room for some you time, which helps cut down the stress that comes with trying to do too much and be more fulfilled with what you are accomplishing.

Setting Realistic Expectations and Boundaries…for Real

To get in the right headspace to set expectations and boundaries, it never hurts to start with a quick mindfulness program. Your technology can help with this. Try setting two or three alarms throughout the day on your phone with the reminder to:

  1. Pause whatever you’re doing
  2. Take a series of deep breaths
  3. Do a full body and mind report: how are you feeling right now?
  4. Accept how you’re feeling

This mindful and honest assessment of your feelings can help you reach a state of calm. With a calm mind, you’ll be less likely to make overly rushed decisions, making it easier to develop a realistic to-do list.

Here are some additional tips you might try to set healthy boundaries and make room for yourself during times of hustle and bustle:

  1. Schedule Everything: Work, family time, holiday parties and gatherings – put it all on your schedule. This helps manage obligations and avoid conflicts and confusion.
  2. Say Yes to “No”: You don’t have to say “yes” to every request for time or help during a work crunch, or accept every invitation. By setting limits, you can focus on the work at hand and be in the moment wherever you are without feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Commit to You Time: Set aside some time just for you. Pick something you like to do; taking a walk, enjoying a cup of coffee, reading a few chapters, and put it on your schedule.
  4. Exercise: Staying active is a great way to shift your perspective and burn off stress.
  5. Meditate: Practicing mindfulness meditation comes with a host of benefits, not least of which is staying calm in stressful situations.