YOU MUST START DOING & NOT JUST SAYING
Ah the age old quest for a stress free life, yes I know those of you who know me well will chuckle at the prospect of a stress free life, but let me tell you, the fight is real and i’m making some good progress. How ? I stopped just saying, and actually started doing.
Because truth be told, stress won’t disappear on it’s own, you my dear friends, must take control yourself, and trust me when I say i’ve learnt the difficult way.
You are the captain of your own ship, you’re in control of the thoughts that pass through your mind, the focus you give to emotions and most importantly the choices you make in certain situations. You, and only you, have the power to say no, to change course, to take action and to start living more mindfully.
Sometimes you need a rude awakening, mine was as such, sometimes you just need to decide now is the right time. Either way, when you’re ready, a stress free life is yours for the taking, and it’s actually not quite as hard as you may thing. Today I wanted to share what I’ve been doing to help banish my stress and tensions and start living a more balance and more healthy life.
HOW I AM BANISHING STRESS FOR GOOD
TAKE BACK CONTROL
First of all, you can only truly banish stress and manage your emotions if you take back control. Take control of the moment, the feelings that you’re experiencing and importantly the emotional reaction your body is having. Mindfulness might sound lofty and wanky, but really it’s simply this. Being in control, accepting situations and momentary emotions, and managing them with pragmatism.
More often than not my body internalises my stresses and often I don’t even realise I’ve become stressed until it’s too late and a migraine hits. Stress isn’t always obvious and momentous, it can be silent, gradual but equally as debilitating. And when it comes to managing this kind of stress, you must be even more in control than normal, because triggers may not be grand, they may be everyday, ongoing and small things that ladder up to a bigger issue.
For me taking back control has simply meant accepting that my current life balance wasn’t conducive to a healthy life, and changing certain things like the pressure I put on myself, my ambition to achieve the best as quickly as possible & my desire to always go above and beyond was key to de-stressing for good.
One of the biggest issues for me was not setting good enough boundaries (for myself) regarding work and life, my time versus the time I’m paid for, time with my boyfriend versus time for myself. I was letting my work time take over my life and it wasn’t helping anyone. The other boundary is a little more subjective rather than simple setting an evenings cut off time, and that was about setting boundaries to the care, effort and energy I put into certain tasks. Going above and beyond is a great trait, but it doesn’t have to be this way for every single task that requires completing, and cutting myself some slack has been a huge huge relief. Only I could have made this change, but the reduction in pressure I have on myself has made it so worth it.
YOGA & PILATES
I loved pilates a few years back, my commitment to my Gymbox Tuesday lunchtime session was almost religious and I actually looked forward to an hour spent working my body and resting my mind. But as my time got more stretched, my weight started to increase and stress took over pragmatism, I ditched exercise entirely and actually began to fear and dread any form of exercise. The mission to get my body and health back to it’s normal state was (and still is a bit) so daunting, starting was an impossibility.
But as I mentioned up front, change will only occur when you start doing and not just saying, so after my little health scare and rude awakening to my wellness, I signed up to not just pilates but yoga too, you may remember me mentioning it here. Both lunch time sessions (also enforcing a break from the desk, tick, tick, tick) and both very convenient for me (they’re both classes that run in my office) so as to combat any sneaky excuses I decide to make up. I’ve been doing them with a friend from work (who was equally as novice) and I’m absolutely loving it. So much so I’d genuinely love to do it everyday if I could find classes.
Yes I dreaded it originally, but when I finally decided to make a change and give it a go, I truly enjoyed it. I applied no pressure to myself, in fact I actually cancelled my gym membership which was making me guilty and costing me a bomb, and instead committed to a 6 week course of Yoga and Pilates, which has helped inexplicably. I started small, but the impact has been big, and I’m looking forward to continuing with this new hobbie and hopefully continuing to see positive impacts, to both my mind and my body (which is a bonus).
ACTUAL TIME OFF
Whenever I take or have time off work, I fill it with something else, I pack it to the brim with all the things I never have enough time for, I squeeze it full. I forget to rest. And my packed agenda of ‘life’ activities, becomes in itself stressful to manage.
Juggling a blogging business and a career isn’t for the faint hearted. Naturally my time spent away from work incredibly valuable for mediamarmalade.com and my consultancy, but actually what my body was crying for, is time to do simply nothing at all. Rest time. You know, a leisurely day with no agenda, a weekend left to it’s own devises, time off line, time to simply not think. It’s not a concept i’m familiar with, i’m not sure i’ve ever even taken a holiday where i’m not working, on my emails, or at least planning shoots and content for my website. And whilst my blog is enjoyable and a passion, it isn’t down time in any way at all, its a business. Resting is not something I’m good at, but its something i’m working hard to embrace.
Even that hours commute to work, to sit back and just be, is a real novelty (and challenge).
Which leads me to my final point, and a subject I continually have forced on me. Are you practicing mindfulness? Have you tried meditation? Whether it’s my illness, my migraines or my posture, it all comes back to this, am I doing enough to be more mindful?
The answer is this; i’ve downloaded headspace and tried a few, but I will finally make more of an effort to have some proper quiet time I promise. I accept I need to rest my body AND my mind, and meditation along with my regular pilates and yoga is going to be a huge help in achieving this.
If you’re looking to try a little meditation, then i’m told even 10 minutes before you start your day is enough to make an impact, and Head Space is a really simple way of starting to practice meditation and great for lives lived on the go.
I’d love to know if these tips and my experiences are helping you combat your own stress issues, and i’d love even more to hear your tips and advice for creating the ideal work life balance and how you personally manage your stress levels, so leave me a comment below & let me know.