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.
When we’re aware of what brings us down, we can let it go and watch ourselves rise up.
The energy outside affects the energy inside. People who complain all the time, people who blame you for their problems, people who bring you down, people who laugh at your dreams, people absorbed in their own worlds, people who always take and never give, these are all toxic people, if they do it consistently. People who do not add any love or joy to your life aren’t worth keeping. It isn’t selfish to cut them out, take a break, or limit the time you see them.
Other people’s opinions
We’re haunted by other people’s words, opinions and thoughts. Maybe we want to please someone. Maybe we think someone knows better. Maybe we feel we don’t have a choice. But if we’re never listening to our own heart, we’ll never feel truly satisfied, content or excited about life. We’ll add water to the seeds of regret, bitterness and misery. Do what makes you happy; even if it doesn’t always work out, at least you’re following your own path.
Self-limiting and self-doubt
Many of us struggle with low self-confidence. In fact, we could probably argue that it’s nowadays a part of life, at one stage or another. We’re afraid of failure. We punish ourselves for mistakes. We think we’re not good enough or bright enough or beautiful enough. But it’s all in our head. You are good enough. You have to find that belief, that faith, that courage buried inside and see how much your outlook changes.
Trying to fit in
Finding someone to talk about is an ancient pastime; we often gossip to fit in, to connect with a group of people and exclude someone else. On the flip side, we’re afraid to be that person who is excluded. We compare ourselves to others, always trying to erase the things that make us different. We focus on what’s ‘wrong’ with ourselves and what we don’t have. Trying to fit in breeds self-doubt and self-loathing, which leads to negativity. Instead try embracing and loving yourself and doing the same for others.
(Image: created myself)
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.
Don’t think you’re good enough? You deserve happiness and love, success and prosperity, peace and comfort. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, least of all yourself. Grow stronger through the challenges you face and grow wiser by navigating through the darkness. Love yourself and treat yourself as you would others. Encourage yourself and congratulate yourself as you would others. You are enough, no less than anyone else.
Today may be filled with challenges. But you are made out of challenges. You’ve conquered them before and you will conquer them again. Take a deep breath. You’ve got this. Shut down the negative self-talk. You can do it, so get to it. Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. Because you’re not just a player, you’re the master, and you can do anything you put your mind to.