Sometimes I think that there must be some kind of “blanket” that envelopes us all. That can be the only explanation for how it can sometimes seem as if everyone is going through the same thing, all at the same time. This week, so many people I know seem to have had a tough time, be they colleagues, friends or family.
Whether it’s been miscommunication or unwanted surprises, it’s all boiled down to the same thing – feeling horribly stressed and perhaps also overwhelmed.
We have a lot on our plates. We are asked to lean in, to be a breadwinner (if not also the main breadwinner), to be a leader, a mum, and the very many roles we take on in our lives. We are so good at multi-tasking, that we often overlook that we’ve taken on too much, and often forget to put ourselves into the picture.
If this is you, here’s what I really want for you to hear.
You deserve to put yourself first. Take time for yourself. Be kind, to yourself.
Sometimes, this might mean not striving 100% of the time, because 80% is perfect. When I was growing up, I remember hearing someone say that even God took a break on the seventh day. 🙂
Giving ourselves a break – physically, mentally and emotionally – is truly central to de-stressing. The funny thing is, getting tense and stressed is unconscious. It’s like breathing. It happens without you thinking about it at all. But destressing and relaxing is conscious, and what this means is that you have a choice. You can choose to turn relaxation on.
But because we are so busy, we often choose not to. We cut ourselves off from the neck down, ignoring our body’s messages that it needs a break, and we carry on, pushing through tiredness, hunger, anxiety, pain….
I’ve been there too. Not even that long ago, and because this week has been so stressful for so many people I know, I wanted to remind you, to invite you, to take a break and to destress.
The key is to begin to make it a habit – to build in reminders throughout the day to step back, if only for a moment, to take that break, and to bring your body into a more relaxed place. Over time, as you begin to tune back in to your body’s messages and you begin to notice your stress levels starting to rise, take that break. The best thing of all is that you can begin to reverse the impact that stress has had on your life.
Here are some things you can do when you take that break, to bring your body into a relaxed state. Pick and mix, if you’d like.
- Breathe the 6/7/8 – Sit upright in your seat, feet placed flat on the floor, relax your head, neck, shoulders, body, legs, hands, feet, fingers and toes. Now, take a deep breath for the count of 6, hold it for the count of 7 and then exhale for the count of 8. Repeat this 5 times. How do you feel now?
- Stand up, stretch and gently bend backwards. Hold for the count of 3. Repeat 3 times.
- Shrug and roll your shoulders a few times, then gently bend your neck backwards, stretch your neck and look up. Hold for the count of 7.
- Close your eyes, and visualize somewhere peaceful and serene – the beach, a meadow, the forest, a lake…the choice is yours. Allow your mind to calm down and watch any thoughts that may arise float off into the distance. You’ll know when to open your eyes again 😉
- Tense all your muscles at the same time – clench your fists, your buttocks, straighten your arms and your legs, squeeze your eyes, scrunch your face, and hold for the count of 5, then release. Repeat 3 times.
There. Just a few ideas. What others might you have?
And of course, there’s food. What you eat, how you eat and when you eat, all have an impact on your stress levels too. Remember:
- Eat within ½ and hour to an hour of waking up.
- Eat protein, healthy fat and fibre with every meal and snack.
- Eat regularly throughout the day, to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Typically, this means breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks.
- Minimise the junk food, refined carbs, caffeine and alcohol, which mess with your hormones.
- Try out one of my favourite snacks – an orange with a teaspoon full of almond or cashew butter. Yum!
Not too much biochemistry this week, haha. Now, over to you. Let me know how you go.
Make your next years your best years.