Life in a 24-7 society means demand for your attention is at an all-time high, making it even harder to switch off and create boundaries around when you’re ‘on’ and when you’re unavailable. Everything is available on tap and the more you consume, whether that is food, content or ‘the buzz’, the more you need that dopamine hit, and you can find that you are always hurrying along to the next ‘thing’. Hurrying through life contributes to increased stress levels.
With79% of UK employees experiencing burnout, and 1 in 5 struggling to manage stress at work, life isn’t just about deadlines, it’s about turning up for yourself to make a better contribution.
You’re busy managing your home, navigating relationships, scheduling children and ferrying them around, aiming for some semblance of a social life, all on top of working. Sometimes it feels like a constant juggle. In a way you have been trained to believe that this is ‘normal’, but actually it couldn’t be further from what you need, which is to be in the moment and be present, not thinking about ‘what’s next?’. After all you are a human being, not human doing.
Rushing all the time can lead to burnout, where you are physically and/or mentally exhausted from chronic stress exposure. Two thirds of workers have experienced burnout. As a consequence, stress, anxiety and mental health concerns are on the rise, often resulting in burnout and enforced time out. So, making time for you and creating opportunities to slow down prior to reaching this stage is of paramount importance in 2023.
To feel relaxed, your nervous system needs to feel safe and to return from ‘survival mode’ into a state of equilibrium and turn on the relaxatory response. Being frequently rushed and frantically moving though modern life can trigger you into a constant state of alertness and feeling on edge. Being a ‘Rushaholic’ may get you there more quickly, but it is unsustainable for long periods and has a huge impact upon your wellness.
When it’s time to take time out, implementing strategies that simultaneously enhance your wellness, performance andbusiness life is a no brainer.
My go to strategies to slow down in order to do more are:
1- Setting boundaries – everyone needs an off switch. I highly recommend airplane mode on your phone. So for those clients I have that literally feel lost without their phone being with them at all times, it’s one of the easiest ways to disconnect, whilst still being connected. I recommend using the airplane mode at times when they absolutely must focus on work, at mealtimes, when they are with the family and at night so that they can avoid the temptation to look and check emails and social channels, but also so that they won’t be bothered by notifications and distracted from being in the moment, or asleep.
2- Creating space – when you really are busy, you will need to create the space for you to step away and unwind. Actually blocking space out in your diary so that it is scheduled really helps with accountability and actually completing it. If your days are crammed full, putting the empty space at the start or the end of the day as non negotiable time can work. Colour coding it in the diary and scheduling this regularly or placing it on repeat means that it will stand out and that you cannot overbook yourself.
3 – Gratitude practice – Being thankful and actively practising gratitude is an often overlooked way to supporting your wellness. It makes you mindful of the things that are actually going right for you, rather than confirming that negative bias – your body’s cells are always listening. Ending the day on a high and practising this last thing at night helps to set the stage for restful sleep, but you can pause and do this at any point during the day. You can always think of one thing to be grateful for, even if it is this moment right now that you are alive, that is enough.
4- Positive affirmations – as the great Louise Hay was quoted- “You have been criticising yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens”. This isn’t about ‘toxic positivity’ and everything having to be amazing all the time, as frankly that would be too exhausting to maintain. However, telling yourself good things and framing your inner dialogue in a positive way helps to elevate your mood, which helps you to feel happier. You know that feeling good about things motivates you and helps you to do more, so tell yourself a good story. Be proud of your accomplishments, whether that is managing to fold the laundry or completing a business deal, they are both wins for you.
5- Meditation – this means different things to different people, whether this is using an app, going to a class, listening to music or simply lying on the grass and cloud watching. Taking time out and slowing down, even if only for a few minutes, can be enough to relax your nervous system. I would suggest finding a quiet space where you can sit or lay comfortably, and begin focussing on your breathing. Breathe in and out through the nose and focus on how the breath feels as it moves in and out of the nostrils. If your mind wanders, come back to focussing on your breath. Try it for a few minutes and feel the sense of calm.
Find what works for you, start small and if it works, then repeat it.
Tracy Richardson is a Therapist (MSc.), Wellness Consultant and Author at Serendipity Wellness® based in Warwickshire, UK. Tracy she takes a whole person centred approach to facilitate healing and optimising wellness with actionable solutions that simultaneously enhance health, performance & business life. She has been helping to inspire and educate others to care for and value themselves through positive behavioural changes since 2018 - because ‘wellness makes you a well-being’.
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