Is Stress A Constant In Your Life? Read Sel's Top Tips for Managing Stress and Avoiding Overwhelm
Stress feels like a constant battle lately. If it isn't juggling the different personalities of our kids, it's the pressure of business and if it isn't either of those, it's the ever increasing cost of living.
Downtime can feel like a real struggle when there is so much still to be done, but taking time out from the stresses of life is important.
Most of us have grown up in the age of hustle culture, and that's a hard thing to unlearn. This way of thinking values working long hours, being constantly productive, and pushing oneself to the limit in order to achieve success. But it's a mindset that can be harmful in the long-term as it leads to overwork, stress, and burnout.
Catching up with friends and family can sometimes feel like the hardest thing to do when you're depleted mentally and physically, especially when your brain lies to you about your own worth, but reconnecting with people that you share a common bond with can sometimes be the best thing you can do for your hauora, your health.
If we don't intentionally make the time to do this, the long-term costs can be pretty expensive.
Burnout isn't something to aspire towards. The cost of recovery isn't just time. It's a reduced future tolerance to pressure and stress.
If you've ever come close to burnout or if you're there now, then practising kindness to yourself is more important than ever before.
Kindness is self care. It isn't buying yourself treats, but it is being realistic with your self-expectations. It is taking time to focus on your breathing. It is taking time to separate your work from your personal life.
If you're particularly driven, it's important to be understanding and flexible when it comes to setting goals and working towards them.
It's better to be realistic and set achievable goals that take into account your personal circumstances and limitations, rather than trying to adhere to a one-size-fits-all approach.
Here are my top tips for managing stress and avoiding overwhelm and burnout:
Stop filling your day planner with lists of things to do. Lists don't make most people productive. They actually make the majority of us feel guilty and stressed about not achieving everything. (Dionne butts in to say, mm-hmm!).
I talk about making success lists instead of task lists as an alternative. Making a list of all the tasks you need to do fulfils your need for dopamine initially, but the overall result is typically overwhelming as life interrupts your ability to tick everything off. By making a high level list of what success looks like to you at the end of the week, and only adding tasks of things that MUST be done, you are able to respond to life needs and meet your own self head on.
[Take a look at these short TikTok clips to see what Sel means by Success Lists]
Take micro-breaks often. Get up and move from your task - especially if you are at a desk. Set yourself reminders to drink water - neurodivergent people can especially benefit from this as poor interoception can interrupt the instinct to drink when thirsty.
Practice breathing daily; really take the time to notice your breath for at least three minutes. Breath is able to affect our nervous system- and change our response to stress. When we are stressed, breathing tends to become shallow and sometimes held.
Te reo Māori refers to breath as Hā; say that out loud as you breathe out - haa.
Āroa hā = breath awareness, and it is a good practice to get into. When my kids are frustrated and unable to self-regulate I often say "haa". Just the process of me interrupting them with that word enables them to focus on their breathing, which interrupts their brain enough to come out of the disregulation.
We work on "Hā ki Roto - Hā ki Waho" - Breathe in - Breathe out together until they can tell me what was happening to upset them.
Notice your body.
Drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.
Unclench your jaw.
Relax your shoulders.
Now wiggle your toes.
If you have five minutes, focus on progressively tensing and relaxing the muscles in your body. Start with your toes, tense for 10 seconds then relax. Move up your body towards your shoulders, arms, back, neck, face - mouth and eyes. Really pay attention to how each part feels.
The last few years have been exceptionally difficult for many of us. Don't subscribe to this narrative that in 2023 you need to push through no matter what.
How does Sel know all about this?
She's a business strategist supporting bloody good humans to achieve the positive impact they long to make. Sel's impact journey started out in the charitable space but when that led to burnout she knew something had to change.
This has driven her passion to support other purpose-fuelled founders to find a more sustainable, nurturing path where ethical business success and long-lasting impact can sit hand in hand.
If you'd like to know more, you can find Sel at leighdevelopment.co.nz
Sel draws on her varied background of experience to support the people that she works with. From understanding government obligations and navigating the complexities of operating under different structures, to recovering from disaster, Sel's special sauce is being able to see the bigger picture and connect the dots to know what path to take next. Sel also speaks passionately about decolonisation, diversity and inclusion and how we can do business in a socially conscious way without compromising our well-being in the process.
PS - A note from us. If you are aware of tension in your body, remember to use your Magnesium Oil spray as well as Sel's technique. One of the jobs of magnesium is to ease muscle tension. By getting more magnesium, you're less likely to experience things like tension headaches and sore muscles. Even if you do have to sit at the computer for longer than you'd like, to get an assignment finished.
Or try adding a warm bath with Epsom salt to your evening routine once or twice a week. Just don't put it on a To Do List!!
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