10th October 2019
It was World Mental Health Day recently and with so much focus on wellbeing in the workplace, today is a good opportunity to reflect on your own personal wellbeing (both are indeed intrinsically linked).
I think everyone can identify with the feelings of being pulled in different directions. In this demanding world, it's easy to get in the habit of reacting to whatever is most urgent. Living life on the rebound drains our reserves until we stop putting ourselves last.
Often, the things we are struggling to keep up with have nothing to do with personal wellness, health or happiness. Self-care can feel like a low priority in comparison to meeting work deadlines, paying bills, washing clothes, parenting our children and taking care of our parents. The list of demands goes on and on.
We don't get well-being without self-care.
When we neglect our self-care, we give ourselves the message that we don't matter, we aren't worth the effort, and we don't deserve better.
These recommendations aren't rocket science. They are reminders about the importance of self-care and options to help you balance stress and optimise your life.
Take a break and choose to do positive and fun things. This can cause a shift in your outlook and help you relieve stress. Sometimes, if we take a break from our to-do list we can go back to it and be more efficient. An enjoyable life can't be "all work, no play".
Focus on getting restorative, quality sleep. It is hard to feel upbeat or be productive when you are sleep deprived. It doesn’t mean you should sleep 10 hours a night, some people function perfectly well on just 6 hours, you just have to find how many is too little for you. Also, bear in mind that you CAN sleep too much! And it will have the same effect as sleeping too little.
Eat healthy and nourishing foods. Sometimes people use food to self-soothe and distract from stress but that never works out well in the end.
Using food as an attempt at self-soothing can result in unwelcome weight gain. As weight goes up, stress often goes up, continuing a negative cycle without any real relief.
Avoid things that make stress worse. Alcohol is a depressant. Alcohol is not going to help you feel balanced and less stressed in life. It will also negatively affect your sleep further depleting your emotional reserves.
Drugs and alcohol don't help people feel powerful or in control of their life especially when they are used for a temporarily escape. What happens after they are out of the system?
Instead of reaching for something outside of yourself when you are overwhelmed, look for answers within.
Exercise is a powerful and extremely effective method to help yourself feel better. Exercise doesn't have to mean running 10 miles each day. Small amounts of exercise, even 1 hour per week, can make a difference in mood.
Mindfulness and meditation are tools that can help with stress management, negative thoughts, and centering yourself to bring you back to the current moment.
Positive thoughts help breed positive feelings and the opposite is true also: negative breeds negative.
There are many free apps that make it easy to give meditation and mindfulness a try. This allows guided meditations and mindfulness exercises to be fit into the busiest of days.
It is hard to figure out life balance on one’s own. A therapist is a neutral party that can help you refine your life focus and stay accountable to the goals you set out for yourself.
They can also help you work through the areas that you are getting stuck. Processing emotions in a healthy way can decrease reactivity and allow you to be more mindful of the choices you are making.
You can't come last on the list!
Prioritise health in the same way you prioritise other responsibilities and you will see stress diminish despite a to-do list that doesn't get shorter. Make sure to put yourself on that list or it is too easy to always run out of time for self-care.
What self-care goals will you put on your list this week?