How are you doing? Better yet, how are you feeling? If you answered ok or fine to either of the questions, you are not being honest with yourself or lack a true moment of self-awareness. Give yourself a moment to pause. Take this opportunity for some self-care. Stop everything you’re doing. Now close your eyes. Focus on your breath. Inhale a nice deep breath in and exhale out. If you need, take a couple more slow cleansing breaths. Next, settle your mind for a second. Push all thoughts to the side - clear your mind. Keep breathing. When you’re ready, open your eyes. Finally, ask yourself quietly, out loud, or internally, how do I feel today? You should get a clearer response. Are you surprised by the answer? I’d be surprised if you weren’t. So what are you going to do about the stress?
Like many people, you probably feel stressed, overworked, and underappreciated. We all feel like that sometimes, and we can usually shake it off. What happens when you can’t? How do you cope with the long-term effects of the constant stress, anxiety, and expectations of work and personal life? In the short term, we usually find ways to cope and navigate the immediacy of our work and personal lives. Our coping ability erodes when the stress continues and becomes a long-term situation. We continue to follow our daily routines with a little focus on self-care to get through the day. When the stress is long-term, things rarely change in our routine, including stress. You have to break the pattern for things actually to change. The reason most people don’t break the pattern is a failure. They believe that changing the pattern is a sign of failure and weakness. Well, that may be true. It’s an issue of comfort, routine, and feeling stuck in a pattern you can’t escape. When the comfort and pattern of continuing to do the same thing are easier than the looming stress of stopping. You, my friend, are on the hamster wheel.
I jokingly call that feeling of feverish exhaustion, unending stress, and caffeine-fueled adrenaline driving need to continue as “being on the hamster wheel”. It’s the feeling of running with no end in sight, feeling like you’re not making any headway, and not knowing how to stop. We all have been there. Some are still there and are constantly in that state of anxious panic. I’m telling you to “get off the hamster wheel”.
We can not avoid stress in our life. We get it from both our personal and professional lives. Managing it is a real challenge. When you can’t balance it or have an imbalance of stress from one side or the other, our natural inclination is to power through. Powering through is a short-term solution. The stress has to end to let your nervous system recover. When you are in this state, your nervous system is in flight or fight mode. When you do, your body doesn’t know how to cope as it thinks you're being attacked. You can not power through long-term. Your body can not stay in this state for long periods. When you do, this triggers long-term issues with your health. If this is you, how will you let your body heal and come down off the stress so it doesn’t think it's being attacked?
There is a healthier way. Finding harmony is hard work. Acknowledging when you will have stress, communicating it to others, announcing it has a deadline, and letting your body get the reparative rest it needs to reset itself is vitally important. How do you do this? It is all one word some people do not like: boundaries. You have to establish boundaries in your personal and professional life. Start small. For example, boundaries on communication methods and times, preferences of work, time commitments, and the need for healthier behaviors. If no one has told you today, you must eat and go to the bathroom many times daily. Work or personal commitments should not interfere. These are necessities of self-care. That is an easy boundary to set. Declare it to others, say no when it is an impediment, and stay firm in your decision. After a while, you will reap the benefits and find your perspective changed.
So what’s next? How are you using your time to foster your self-care? How do you make healthier eating and activity choices? If you are not an avid exerciser, do something - anything. I like to stop, walk in the park during sunset, and people-watch while listening to music. It’s just me and nature. Also, rediscover your hobbies. Find a new one or restart a hobby. Stress robs us of our joy. Find any opportunity to bring joy back into your life. You’ll be glad you did!
If you are still struggling or need additional guidance with your business, contact us at Pensivetastic. Let’s collaborate to define your path forward. We’ll help you get there.