Stress is a symptom of too much pressure. It can stem from work or school, in family or society. A minimal amount of stress can help us perform at our best, but too much can quickly debilitate us – in worst case scenarios, lead to burnout and other health problems. It should not be a state of mind, an aspiration or a badge of honour.
I do not want to be the type of person who doesn’t prioritise their health. This week, I’m going to implement these strategies, which I’ve used in the past, into my daily routine:
Keeping lists of what I need to do at work and what I want to achieve to progress my goals helps me to track my workload and schedule my time. Key to this is prioritising, being realistic with what you can do in a day and scheduling in time for breaks or buffers between projects. When we’re realistic with our time, we achieve what we set out to do and can feel good about it.
My commitment: Create a to do list every morning before anything else. Prioritise the three most important tasks, and if you accomplish them, that’s a job well done.
Being ‘always on the go’ may sound glamorous but is not maintainable. You can still work hard and take breaks – in fact, we often work much better when our mind is not tired. Some of my favourite ways to take a break at work, for example, is taking a walk in the neighbourhood, getting a coffee from the local coffee shop, meeting friends for lunch. It often helps to remove yourself from the work environment.
My commitment: Schedule in at least 30 minutes at lunch time away from your desk.
Nourishing the body
Eating well, exercising and pampering the body can work wonders for the mind. Giving your body the nutrients it needs gives you the energy you need. Exercising helps release the tension built up during the day. And pampering the body by taking a bath or doing a face mask helps slow the mind.
My commitment: Be a conscious eater; exercise at the gym three times this week; practice some yoga
Sleep can be one of the first sacrifices we make with a busy lifestyle. But it shouldn’t be neglected. Ways I try to help my body get the rest it needs is going to bed at a similar time each night, listening to piano music before bed to signal to my brain that we’re soon going to sleep, and keeping work life out of the bedroom (if you work at home, have a separate space for work outside of the bedroom).
My commitment: Put your phone on airplane mode at 9pm; turn the light off at 10.30pm
I’ve also heard excellent things about meditation and mindfulness – I cannot vouch for them as strategies but this week I’m going to get up each morning and do 10 minutes of mindfulness.
Got any of your own tips, habits or commitments? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. I’ll let you know how I get on with mine.
Many of us are scared to be alone with our thoughts. We’re scared of what they might say and how they might make us feel. We’re so plugged in and invested in other people’s worlds, but neglect out own. Here’s three reasons to tune into what’s going on inside your head.
Reason One: Find solutions
When we listen to our thoughts and emotions, it’s likely that we’ll shed light on insecurities, anxieties and fears. But don’t be afraid. Instead of burying them away, we can actually face them and find ways to conquer them. We’ll see they’re not untameable. We’ll start to untangle the problems and find ways to overcome them.
Reason Two: Set direction
When we get in touch with our thoughts and emotions, we begin to understand where we want to go. Sometimes we wander aimlessly because we’re lost. Sometimes we find ourselves walking a path because we’re following someone else. We’re not really thinking about what we want and where we want to go. But if you actually do take the time to think and listen, and you follow what your heart is saying, you’ll never be steered wrong.
Reason Three: Realise who you are
When we tune into our thoughts and emotions, we drown out the noise around us and find out who we are. That might be someone who doesn’t care what people think. That might be someone who stands up for what they believe in. That might be someone who sees things differently. Whoever you are, you don’t need to lock them away. Find out what you like and don’t like, where you want to go and what you want to do.
(Image: Kreesha Turner)
Our life isn’t always as bad as it seems inside our heads. Our opinions and emotions are nurtured by what we know and what we’ve seen. But if you were to look from the outside, what might you see? Would it be a bad life like the one we’ve conjured up in our heads? Or would it be a life to be grateful for? There are others looking in who envy your life, who are wishing for a life like yours, who are perhaps even fighting for it. Take a step back and let’s quit making it out to be so bad. Because it really isn’t. It could be worse. And there’s a lot going for you, for many of us.
(Image: We Heart It)
We’ve all felt the urge to speak ill of others at one time or another. Sometimes we do it to feel better about ourselves. Sometimes we do it to fit in. Sometimes we do it out of frustration and anger. Sometimes we mean it and sometimes we don’t. But it’s still dangerous, for both ourselves and for others. It poisons the air with negativity that gets harder and harder to breathe. People won’t want to be around us and soon we won’t want to be around ourselves. It never does make us feel better, but makes others feel worse. It never does help us fit in, because what goes around comes around. Don’t kick someone down in efforts to give yourself a lift up. You’ll only find yourself further at the bottom somewhere else.
Tip One: Stop comparing yourself to others
It’s said time and time again, but we can’t seem to get away from it. But it’s so counter-productive! We’re all different. Some of us excel in certain things and some of us suck at them. We all have something we’re better at and worse at. We all in different stories, at different chapters, with equally beautiful endings. Start playing to your strengths and working on your weaknesses. Be better than you were yesterday, not better than the other person in the room.
Tip Two: Don’t just think it, say it
Thinking positively about yourself is harder than it sounds. But if we hear it, maybe we’ll start to listen. Stand in front of the mirror every morning and take a look at what you see. Let yourself know something you love about yourself and say it out loud. Or start the day with a positive affirmation out loud. It may feel weird at the beginning, but it will quickly sink in and transform your mindset.
Tip Three: Look at mistakes as spring boards
Failure and mistakes shouldn’t be looked at as the enemy. They’re actually the key to our success, but only if we act on them in the correct way. Instead of punishing yourself over mistakes you’ve made, focus on what you can learn from them and how you can use those teachings as fuel to greater success.
Tip Four: Gather some perspective
Sometimes we need to step out of our own heads and look at our situation from the outside. What would your friends say if they knew what you were saying about yourself? What would you say to a friend in a similar situation? Challenge yourself on the negative things you say to yourself and don’t be so hard on yourself. Most of the things we actually beat ourselves up on aren’t a big deal like we’re making them out to be.
Tip Five: Focus on solutions, not just problems
Sometimes we feel like we deserve the negative self-talk. But really it doesn’t do us any favours. When we talk negatively about ourselves, we’re often focusing too much on the problems instead of thinking about what we could do to solve them and thinking about the action. But focusing on the solutions will automatically move your mind to a positive space, and the problem won’t seem as bad.
Happiness is a state of mind. It isn’t something we can always hold onto. It’s ok to be down and feel low. Have faith that happiness can always be found again. If you believe it can, you won’t be afraid of sadness, because it’s also a state of mind. Sadness isn’t something you’ll always hold onto. It will pass.
The energy we exhale into the world will quickly become the air we breathe. If we always focus on what’s wrong in our lives, on what’s wrong in others, on what’s wrong with the world, life will always seem drained of good and hope, because it’s all we’ll ever notice. But if we believe in ourselves and root for others, if we love ourselves and treat others well, the world will look abundant and generous. Be mindful of the energies you send out into the world, because the one most likely to suffer from it is yourself. Look at life with positivity, and you life will instantly be transformed.
(Image: We Heart It)
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be? I would change its heart. And we can. Keep an open mind. Give people benefit of the doubt. Be kind to people without expecting anything in return. Stand up for people without a voice. Listen to people who need it. Speak to people who are lonely. Love more. Hate less. That’s how we can save the world from being swallowed up in darkness.
The nice-to-haves but not need-to-haves: approval, the next big thing, a particular type of education, endless time, outcomes that exceed expectations, a title. You can do anything you put your mind to, no matter who you are or what you have. Only you are in control of your success, your happiness, your life. Don’t put it in the hands of others. Just do you.