Winter is a time to stop, pause and reflect.  Your body and soul need a break from to-do lists, urgent priorities and busyness.  It’s important.

But finding time is difficult.  The whole reason you need a break from busyness is because you are so busy.

Making time to relax doesn’t have to be hard.  Follow this simple 4 step plan and you’ll discover time you didn’t know you had.

Step 1:  Identify Your Top Daily Priorities

Ask yourself 3 questions.  What are the tasks that you absolutely must do? What tasks do you like to do? Of the tasks you don’t like, which ones can you quit easily?

Be ruthless. There are many tasks you may think you have to do but are actually optional.

Step 2:  Decrease Distractions

Now ask yourself what are the top distractions that keep you from relaxing?  Do you check email instead of letting it go until tomorrow?  Do you waste time on bad sitcoms?  Is there something in your environment that makes you tense?

When you finish your list, identify which distractions are easiest to eliminate.

Step 3:  Manage Your Energy

And finally, make a list of ways you can increase your energy and decrease your exhaustion, without a time commitment.  Of course you can go to the gym more often but that requires extra time.  For this exercise, think of substitutions. Drink herbal tea instead of coffee to avoid a crash in the afternoon.  Watch a comedy instead of the news to lift your spirits.

Step 4:  Put It All Together

Take your lists and bring all the information together into a plan.

The tasks that you must do and that you like to do remain the same.  Those tasks are your top daily priorities.

But the tasks that you can easily quit are your opportunities.  Pick one of them to make time for relaxation.  Eliminate the easiest distractions that can fill that slot and keep you from using your time to relax.  And make one small change in your day so you have a little more energy to enjoy your newly found time.

How to Make a Haramaki

A haramaki is Japanese undergarment worn to keep your torso warm.  The warmth helps digestion and eases menstrual cramps—but mostly it just feels good.

Choose soft, knit fabric.  If possible, pick a natural fiber like cotton or light wool.

These instructions use a ½” seam allowance.  The haramaki is basically a large rectangle, sewn into a tube.

1. Decide how long to make your haramaki.  Many are 8” long, but if you want it to reach from your ribs to your hips, you may want a 12” haramaki.  Add 1” for seam allowance.

2. Determine the width of your haramaki.  For most people, use your waist measurement.  If you are particular curvy and have a big difference between your waist and your hips, use the average of your waist and hip measurement.  You want your haramaki to be tight enough to stay in place but not so tight that it is uncomfortable.  Add 1” for seam allowance.

3. Make your pattern.  Draw a rectangle on a piece of tissue paper, using your length and width measurements.

4. Cut out your haramaki.  Place the pattern on the fabric so that the width of the fabric (the stretchiest direction) is the width of your
haramaki.  Cut.

5. Fold the fabric in half, right sides together so that the 2 short edges line up.  Stitch using a stretch stitch.  Try on the haramaki and make sure it fits snugly and comfortably.  Adjust if necessary.

6. Finish the top and bottom with a ½” hem.

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