Lately, I have found more and more individuals swimming in stress. Their schedules are jammed packed with ever-increasing deadlines and responsibilities. Some are not taking time for lunch to nourish their body and decompress. Many even bring work home in the evenings and on weekends.
I know from firsthand experience all of these signs because I was right there with you. I can even remember waiting to go to the bathroom until I wrote just one more email. Over time it became a habit. I was always “on” and couldn’t turn it off even when on vacation.
Over time this stress can have a significant effect on the 4 bodies: mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. Stress prolonged can even turn into disease. I have many examples of this in my own life. I allowed this to happen over time due to chasing a career, my desire to help others and to be liked.
I had to realize that I held the key to my freedom.
Find stillness in your day to just be. Often at work, my lunchtime slot was scheduled over because it was an easy way to find an hour with a group of executives. Their thinking was that if they brought lunch in for us, we didn’t need any recoup time. Sometimes despite our best efforts, our calendars are not our own. Strategies I used to help this, was to block an hour on my calendar every single day for mindfulness and to breathe. It helped me gain perspective and to make better decisions for the organization. On a rare occasion when this time was needed, I would escape to my car for 15 minutes and play a YouTube meditation or just sit in the stillness. Oprah and Deepak Chopra have a wonderful series that can help you begin to meditate if you do not already do it regularly. Google it. That’s how I got my start. In an extreme emergency, go to the bathroom and stay there for 5-6 minutes just breathing to regain your footing.
Get enough ZZZZs. I can remember periods of time where falling into bed at 11 or 11:30 exhausted was a way of being. I would get up at 5:30 and start all over again. I wasn’t getting nearly enough sleep. I’ve learned how healing sleep can be. My lights are always off by 10 now and that means that around 9 I start winding down, by getting ready for bed, reading, doing an evening meditation, listening to soft music or anything else to tell my body and mind it’s time to start shutting off for the night. Find a relaxing ritual that works for you.
Make yourself a priority. As a woman and a mother, I think many of us have been programmed (or maybe it’s in our DNA) to care and nurture others but somehow many of us have forgotten to nurture ourselves as well. We think putting ourselves first is somehow selfish. We need to take time for ourselves by charging our own batteries. When our battery is full, we have more to give to others. Taking 30 minutes a day to do something that fills your soul can do wonders. Where are your passions? What fills you up? What gets those creative juices going? What re-energizes you? For me it’s making quilts, reading certain kinds of books or being in nature. For you it might be exercising, gardening or taking a bath and putting a note on the door an letting the family know that this is your time. Figure out what it is for you and calendar it in the way you would soccer practice or any other to do on your list. You’ll be glad you did.
Sooth the inner critic. Be kind to yourself and this includes your thoughts. “You are stupid” or “you can’t do anything right” or a lot worse 😊 are things I used to say to myself. These are things I would never to say to anyone else and yet I would say them in my own head as looping tapes. This did not support my own health and mental well-being. I had to shift my thinking. I had to reprogram the autopilot that kept them running in my head. It started with my own self-awareness. I had to become aware that these tapes were running before I could change them. I then replaced them with kinder, gentler words like “I know I can figure this out over time. I am resilient. I’ve been in tougher situations and have come out on top. Breathe. You’ll get through this.”
Remember you always have a choice. You hold the key to making the change. There is always an energy at work supporting you for your highest potential.