Dec. 4. 2017
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped® and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

Learn how to prioritize yourself, when you’re busy so that you don’t feel like you’re spread too thin.

Sticking to your daily routine is difficult when you’re busy; there’s no question about that. It’s when your daily routine gets off track that you can easily forget to prioritize yourself. Naturally, this topic is top of mind for us here at NS as we enter the holiday season. Whether it’s with workouts, self-care or even time to just rest, “me time” falls by the wayside when you’re constantly on the go. Not to mention, if you’re like me this month, you’re traveling to see loved ones near and far.

Like most of us, the holidays are a really crazy time for me. Besides prepping for big plans for Nutrition Stripped in the new year, I’m traveling to have 4-5 holidays with family outside of the state. Traditionally, December is always a month I cherish for the chance to catch up with loved ones, and it hasn’t always been one that I truly prioritized myself while I was at it. Now, however, I do a few simple things to make the most of the season, while enjoying food that’s seasonal and nourishing to my body, and taking time to simply slow down during the shorter days and colder temps.

When I’m go-go-go, I remind myself that I need to focus on prioritizing myself to avoid feeling sick, overwhelmed, uninspired or ultimately burnt out. I recently discussed the power of showing up for yourself so that you can give more this holiday season, and today I want to follow up with simple ways to ensure that you can really do the “showing up.”

Here are 7 tips to prioritize yourself this month, and beyond:

No. 1 — Cook more meals at home. One of the easiest ways to prioritize yourself is to make plans to cook in the kitchen. Cooking can be incredibly therapeutic, and it invites you to practice mindfulness and be present. Cooking, whether it’s for yourself or for others, can also encourage you to eat healthier, which in itself is prioritizing yourself because you’re putting your health and wellbeing first. How many times have you been out for drinks with friends and ended up snacking mindlessly on something that doesn’t align with your goals? We’ve all been there, but we can always recenter and reign it back in.

No. 2 — Move your body. There’s a reason why this is part of the NS Lifestyle as a pillar of health to live by; working up a sweat is not only good for us physically but mentally and for me, spiritually. Explore activities that make you happy and feel good — and do them every day. Moving your body is an easy way to show respect and gratitude for yourself and your health.

No. 3 — Limit the screen time. When I say “screen time”, I especially mean the time spent with your phone, scrolling through social media. Even if you think otherwise, you’re not prioritizing yourself when you’re constantly checking in to see what everyone else is doing or posting. Not to mention, when you’re glued to your phone, you’re hyper-available for everyone else’s wants and needs, too. This habit causes you to fall down a slippery slope of living reactively, not proactively, and it’s something that can get away from you especially this time of year. Do yourself a favor: put the phone down, take some space for yourself, and settle in to read a good book with a dairy-free Matcha Tea Latte instead.

No. 4 — Don’t overload your social calendar. Now is the season for happy hours, dinner gatherings, parties and potlucks, all while you’re wrapping up the year at work or school. Take a good look at the next few weeks, and ask yourself if you’ll be spreading yourself too thin by committing to certain functions. You might want to reschedule that lunch date or that reunion until next month since you have your company holiday party and White Elephant exchange with your friends this week or next. Realize that missing out on some plans won’t, in fact, give you “FOMO” but instead leave you with peace of mind because you prioritize your health and wellbeing. Not to mention, by saying no to some invitations, you can be confident that you can give 100% of yourself when you do say yes.

No. 5Set boundaries. When you don’t have boundaries in place, you’re more susceptible to burnout. I’m here to tell you that burnout is a real thing, and it can happen this time of year amidst the holiday cheer. Burnout is something I experienced at the start of Nutrition Stripped when it turned into a full-on company versus just a hobby blog. I overcame that burnout by setting boundaries for myself. Read more about how to set boundaries for yourself here.

No. 6 — Revisit your morning routine. The time I set aside for a morning routine in which I prioritize myself is a “non-negotiable” for me. Morning routines are far more than habits; they’re essential for overall wellbeing. The way we set up our mornings is the way we set the tone for the entire day. The key to a successful morning routine is in the mindfulness that surrounds even the most mundane tasks, and being completely conscious and aware of being in the moment.

No. 7 — Check in with your nightly routine, too. Just like a morning routine, your wind-down rituals before bedtime set you up for better sleep, and a better tomorrow. When you feel rested, you’ll be able to tackle the day with a resilience that will help you stay “above water” even when you have a full day. Read more about creating a great nighttime routine here.

What do you think? What part of prioritizing yourself is the most difficult for you? Do you have any specific tricks that help you stay centered, mentally and physically? Share your tips and thoughts below, not just for me, but for the rest of the NS Community! Tag @NutritionStripped and #NutritionStripped on Instagram as you focus on what you need to do to feel amazing this month.

xx McKel