In today’s busy society, we prioritise hard work often to the detriment of our wellbeing and health. We sacrifice feeling connected to ourselves and our emotions, in order to be high-performing and successful at our jobs and tasks. Our culture values the notion of hard workers who endeavour until exhaustion, but we can never create anything truly worthwhile if we are neglecting our own state of mind and health.
Stress doesn’t have to be synonymous to success. We can incorporate practices into our lives to support our mind, body and soul whilst also remaining productive. The irony is that often when we take the time to slow down and do what may seem like nothing (from the perspective of the overworked mind), this can help you to be even more successful and hard working at the things you love in the long term.
When we are overworked, we are operating from the ‘fight-or-flight’ mode from our sympathetic nervous system. This purpose of this mode was designed to enable that humans survive through situation where our life is threatened. When we are living from this stress state, our heart rate is elevated, our muscles tightened, our blood vessels constricted and our digestive function is compromised. Being in this state long term is damaging to our overall wellbeing, as it simply is not designed to sustain us but rather assist our survival in rare life-threatening scenarios. But the body does not know the difference if it is a true life-threatening situation or just stress from work or daily life, so it automatically switches into the stress response, in order to get you ready for the worst.
By adding in some simple practices into your routine, you can create more of a balance and flow between work and life, and overall nourishing every aspect of yourself. If you have the time to watch a Netflix episode to unwind, then you have enough time to dedicate to connecting to yourself throughout the day, with much more powerful and long lasting results.
Technology and social media are amazing blessings and tools, and are also often required as part of our jobs. When you first wake up in the morning, take the time to honour yourself rather than instantly immersing yourself into the lives of other people in the digital world. Instead of scrolling, sit with yourself to do some breathing and meditation, do some stretching, and set an intention for the day. Without the distraction of technology, it is also easier to connect with ourselves and become aware of our emotions rather than suppressing them. If checking emails first thing is required for your job, know that taking just 5 minutes to devote to yourself isn’t going to cause any harm. This small amount of time getting grounded and in alignment with yourself will fill you with calm and set the ground for a productive and flowing day.
Also switching off devices before bed gives you the opportunity to again connect with yourself, where you can reflect on your day and fall asleep in a peaceful state without the distractions.
Filling your mind with the things you are grateful for, no matter how simple or small they may seem, is an easy way of shifting your perspective to joy. If you are feeling stressed about your work or tasks, instead focus on the things within them to be grateful for. It may be the people you work with, the space you get to work from, financial stability and security. Also just focusing on small things in your daily life will create a sense of peace and contentedness as you realise just how much beauty and abundance surrounds you- from the sunshine, to the smiling stranger, to the flower growing from the pavement, there is always something to be grateful for.
The emotions of stress and anxiety are like an energy, that can help to be shifted when making the physical body move and flow. Simple yoga stretches, dancing, and walking all help to shake things up as well as keeping the body healthy, without having to do a gruelling workout. Coupling these actions with mindful deep breathing helps to alleviate anxious thoughts and fill your body with fresh oxygen and energy. Breathing and moving also helps to connect us with our physical bodies, as stressful work can cause us to operate only from our minds, leaving us disconnected to our bodies which can create all sorts of health issues.
Music has been proven to elevate your mood and motivation, it aids in relaxation, and assists your brain in processing emotions. Make a playlist for times when you need relaxation or upliftment, and listen to this on your commutes or during your personal time.
We often overlook how powerful immersing ourselves in nature can be in terms of our mental health. The vibration found in nature is so soothing and natural to our being, and all thoughts that aren’t in alignment with this gently begin to subside. Pair some outside time with movement and breathe, and you’re going to feel extremely refreshed after. Or, just sit quietly and go within. Either way, just visualise the trees, the ocean, the fresh air, the hills, whatever is around you in your surroundings, calmly filling you with tranquillity. Sunshine exposure also triggers the release of serotonin, which will increase your feelings of calmness. Getting out into nature doesn’t have to be a great expedition, you can easily fit it into your busy schedule daily by choosing to walk if you can, spending your break in a park amongst some trees or at the beach, and going for a stroll after dinner. Even just stepping out barefoot into a patch of grass for a few moments can provide much needed relaxation and connection.
Starting your day with nourishing whole foods sets the tone for a healthy day, whereas if you opt for something convenient, processed and full of refined sugar you are setting yourself up for a day of blood sugar rollercoasters, making you even more prone to not being able to properly handle stressful situations when they arise. Preparing easy meals and snacks the night before, full of whole and unprocessed foods ensures you can fuel yourself without having to turn to unhealthy choices. Cooking in bulk and having meals prepared and ready to go in the fridge or freezer means you will always have nourishment no matter how busy your lifestyle is.
When you prepare your food, do it with love! Fill your food with vibration of love and happiness, and that energy will come back to you when you consume the food. Listen to music and express gratitude while cooking and eating and eat your meals away from screens. Set a beautiful table for yourself, even if you are eating alone, and eat your meal mindfully and relaxed. You deserve it!