While I’ve finally made the choice to sit in the sunshine and just start writing, it has been weeks since my last post and I had started to allow a little guilt to follow me the whole way.
Stress has been the problem and, though I identified it, finding the actual source and then working through it properly can be challenging. I ultimately realized that by increasing my mental load with guilt, I create even more stress. So instead, I decided to do a self-reality check, got in touch with my emotions and asked myself: I’m not perfect and never will be, but…who is? What are my stressors? What can be done about them? What is within my control? After finding the answers, I was able to better understand how stress was affecting my mood, where I was letting stress creep in, and then move on to building a plan to manage my life’s stressors. Finally, I was able to regain balance.
We all know that stress is a part of living, and too much can cause a variety of problems to our physical and mental wellbeing. It can, however, also force us to focus and get more done. BALANCE is a concept I promote to my clients, and I provide suggestions for how they can carve out some “me time” in their busy lives. What I failed to do for myself was create a plan to include this in my own daily routine. Luckily, life has provided me with some first-hand experience to show just how hard that can be.
5 Important Takeaways:
Allocate time and write yourself into your schedule every week, pick a consistent evening that’s only for you or schedule an email reminder for later in the week to meet this goal. Then stick to the commitment, just like you would for work. Time for ourselves is usually the first thing we push aside when a busy day happens, but if you don’t at least start with the intention of putting yourself first, it will never happen. From workouts to an uninterrupted lunch break, set the goal regardless of size.
Prioritize–urgent or important matters should get your focus – and sort tasks into “must do” and “want to do” categories. Focus first on the “must do” list, and let yourself off the hook for the “want to” list. Make them longer-term goals until you have time to make them priorities. Giving yourself permission to let go of tasks that aren’t a priority gives you control and peace of mind, while still completing important life tasks. And if your day didn’t go perfectly? Tomorrow’s coming; you get a fresh chance to get it right.
- –Create a routine.
Spontaneity and a “fun day” in my planner are ideal for me, but getting there means having a good routine – and sticking to it. I spend about three hours on Saturday morning cleaning the house, Sunday is for grocery shopping and prepping food staples for weekday meals (quinoa, roasted vegetables, etc.), cooking with a glass of wine in hand. An organized environment is a great tool for being mentally organized, allowing your focus to be where it needs to be.
I can’t stress this enough: Get to bed on time! Eight hours will allow you to start your day off right, especially near the end of the work week. Hit the pillow at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning. A tired brain is a stressed brain, and it messes with your body (inflammation, weight gain, etc.) and mental focus – BIG TIME.
- –Just say “no”. (Nicely.) Saying “yes” can become a theme in life if we’re not careful, especially when offered interesting opportunities or helping out friends and family. Being over-committed can trigger feelings of impatience and anxiety, and cause a lack of objectivity or peace of mind. Excitement about a new project is great if you have the time to commit to it. Failing to meet the needs of the person asking can lead to guilt, increased stress and personal sacrifice. Sound familiar? It’s time to think twice about saying yes.
I find the best path is to stop and try to see the bigger picture, and to maintain a week/month perspective. Your time is an investment; always consider your return on that investment. You are worth it, your time is valuable and you deserve the return. Acknowledge that you’re eager to take something on, then assess if it’s a reasonable possibility. Will doing it have a negative impact on your sleep, health or relationships? Remember that family, relationship and friend commitments don’t disappear when you’re busy and need nourishment, so keeping those aspects of your life in mind is important as well.
- –Write it all down.
Related to the Plan piece, write in whatever format you prefer, and commit to doing it twice a week. I use a planner and pen/paper for “mind dumping” (writing everything down that’s on your mind, especially when you can’t sleep, utilize any reminder method you prefer). The “mind dumping” list gets added to my planner and forces me to critique and prioritize. Google Calendar will track everything from work hours to sports games, “me time” and work tasks. Be sure to include social activities for BALANCE, and remember that perfection is not a realistic goal.
- –Find the joy.
We all need it, and you’ve got to be on the lookout for it! Consider what makes you laugh and feel centered and at peace with the world, then include them in your day. Something as simple as petting a neighbour’s dog, calling a close friend for giggles or literally stopping to smell the flowers will hit your reset button and keep you on the right path for mental balance. Tell a joke, share a funny animal video on Facebook, hold open a door or give up your seat to another person on transit. Giving = getting, and remember to be grateful for all the good in your life.
Even I have to strive for balance, and I slip up now and then. Balance is not a goalpost, but a process, and I challenge you to ask this question of yourself each day: What are you going to do for your balance today?
Link to my site http://www.nutritiouslife.ca/2017/08/25/balance-what-a-concept/