Are you stressed or too 'busy'?
Modern life is frenetic. Technology is both our friend and foe. It makes both information and people constantly accessible - creating a culture that’s permanently networked, on the go, and moving faster than ever before. Consequently our expectations adapt to this. We expect more from ourselves and others and we base success on productivity and achievement, rather than appreciating the journey and the lessons. We can get too busy to stop and smell the roses.
Is this stress? It is, if it goes on for long enough. A state of unrelenting 'busyness' puts your body in the same condition as stress does and often results in exacerbating existing stress simply through the lack of time to unwind, prioritise or spend time with loved ones or yourself.
It makes sense to give yourself opportunities to unwind if you're to live well. Perhaps the first key for de-stressing is to give yourself permission to relax and reconnect with yourself and your own priorities. This is something that we can find challenging because society frowns upon 'selfishness'. Judgement can come with 'taking time for yourself' which leads to feelings of guilt and reinforces that 'busy' is good, and you end up in a vicious negative cycle leading to stress. Don't let other influence what's good for yourself - Long term stress is crippling and can lead to more serious mental health issues, like chronic anxiety and depression.
Recognise the physical warning signs of stress:
Are you spending more time in front of a device than you should? Stress accumulates in your shoulders and neck muscles after spending too many hours slumped over a computer or phone screen and will eventually manifest in the form of pain. If you’re feeling stiff and sore, listen to your body and take a break or time out. Your body (and mind) will thank you. Get up off your chair and duck outside for some fresh air. Smokers can, why can't you?
Sleep is necessary for your body to recover and repair from the day's events - physically, mentally and emotionally. If you're having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, it's worthwhile implementing a few healthy sleep habits to get back on track. Don't take your phone into the bedroom, avoid alcohol or caffeine before sleep and some exercise during the day will go a long way to getting a better night’s sleep. Focus on your breath when you're going to sleep if you're having trouble switching off.
Unable to wind down? Feel uncomfortable if you're not busy and occupied? Restlessness means you need some mental recovery. It's key to keeping your mind and body fresh. Let's call it a mental mini-retreat. It may be as simple as blocking out time to do something you've been meaning to do for a while, or something you find absolute enjoyment in, kayaking, drawing, pilates. You might hide away with a new book, go hiking, or take time to appreciate the moment you're in rather than what's coming up next.
Feeling wound up:
Have you noticed you're clenching your jaw? Feeling really tight calves? Or tense butt cheeks? Give your body a really good stretch every now and again. Stretching can give your body an overall feeling of renewal and improve your circulation. Yoga is great for stretching - you don't just have to go to a class o invest in expensive equipment - there's lots of good options on You Tube. Instead of sitting on the couch to watch TV...lie on the floor stretch your body.
Can't be bothered going for a walk? Is your down time spent in front of the TV or computer? It’s so easy to get stuck in your comfort zone. Get outside. It's the best way to de-stress. It offers up perspective, fresh air, incidental exercise and an opportunity to smile at strangers. Smiling more helps you feel more positive too. Smile at a stranger - it'll make their day and yours!
How many times have you said...I'm too “busy” to do something for myself? Count them in a day. The results will astound you. You won't get a badge for being the busiest person around so take the time for a massage, a swim, a ride or walk. The irony is you'll be more productive in the other 'busy' areas of your life!
Say no to living a life of unreasonable busyness. xoxo