Is your life is getting faster, busier and is it harder to find time for yourself? With this busyness and stress, health issues can develop such as gut problems, sleeplessness, headaches, sore back, aches and pains, irritability, feeling down and tired. Many rely on coffee to keep going and a drink or use medication at night to relax as they watch TV, movies, focus on gaming or scrolling the internet to unwind and disconnect from the day. Sound familiar?
So I ask you this, how much is your hectic life run on autopilot. Do you make conscious choices or are you like the mouse running on the treadmill busy but actually going nowhere?
Life is busy and can be stressful but sometimes being still, quiet and doing nothing can be even more challenging. Can you allow time for you?
I always thought being busy was important, not wasting time. It gave me purpose and direction. Sitting still, doing nothing seemed crazy and for me I felt uneasy. I realise now I was avoiding feeling this edginess and my busyness protected me from experiencing this sensation.
So I ask you, do you care about yourself and your wellbeing enough to make changes in daily routine?
How can you slow down and de-stress? Here are a few ideas:
1. Set your phone to remind you 2-4 times a day to take 2-5 minutes for you.
Decide this time for you is essential rather than optional. Make it happen!
Be curious. Notice if you have been holding your breath, swallowing or breathing short, quick anxious breaths?
Use this time for you to stop, breathe and allow yourself to relax, reflect and be still.
Sounds too hard? Start slowly. Here are some ideas:
- Feel the soles of your feet on the floor, breathe in deeply, imagining the breath coming from the soles of your feet to the tips of your shoulders. Slowly fully breathe in and then let the breath fully exhale. Repeat this 5 times feeling the sensations in your body and allowing them to pass through with each exhale.
- Make a sound, e.g ‘Ahhhhh’ on the exhale to help let go. Deep slow breaths help reset your stress response to relax. It also helps your awareness to be more in your body and present in the moment rather than in your busy thoughts.
Now notice how you feel? Are you more relaxed and breathing more easily?
2. Each day lock in a time to exercise. Be it going for a walk or run at lunchtime, go to gym, yoga, dancing, sport or make sure you take the stairs rather than the lift.
3. Put a time into your diary each day for you! You are important and if you don’t take care of yourself nobody else will. Use this time for what you enjoy, let it be fun and creative! Let your body move, dance, sing, paint, laugh, be with friends.
4. Be organised and clear. Make a list of what needs to be done. Prioritise and do only what is essential. It’s ok to say this is enough I can’t do anymore today. Say NO when you need to.
5. Experience nature. Go outside so you can breathe some fresh air, see trees, grass, flowers. If this isn’t possible bring a plant or flowers to you desk. Stop everything, breath, smell, touch and experience the flower, grass , etc., fully. Be in this moment, give yourself this time. This helps calm your system down to reduce stress and anxiety.
6. Watch what you eat and drink. Too much caffeine will increase your stress levels and poor diet will drain your vitamins and minerals (B, C, iron and magnesium are all needed to relax your muscles and assist brain function). Green leafy vegetables, nuts etc. or a multivitamin can help your muscles cope with the stress.
7. Get enough sleep. Turn off all electronic devices in your bedroom and let it be a place of quiet and rest for your body and mind.
8. If you get too stressed, stop and remember we can’t control the future. Learning to manage uncertainty or changes is more helpful. Look at times in your past where things did work out, breathe and let your worries go.
Staying in the present moment, rather than thinking about past events or what may happen in the future helps us calm down and relax. Each day presents new challenges, this is life, we will always have uncertainties. Remember to be gentle with yourself. Learning to ride the waves of change with ease can be difficult, but with the help of others and finding techniques that work for you, less stress and more wellbeing can be found.
I hope you find this article helpful. I welcome your comments.
Holistic Counsellor and Psychotherapist