We all know that we aren’t machines who can go, go, go all of the time, and yet, the corporate (and even non-corporate world) expects every part of us–our time, energy, and devotion. But, where does that leave us as humans who need breaks, who need to reset and even recharge in nature, who need to receive to maintain a balance with all the giving? This generally leaves us feeling anxious, depressed, and stressed. So, what can we do about this?
Put down the devices:
We all do it. Our phones, smart watches, laptops, etc. are attached to us at the hip (or wrist), and we become more engaged with the notifications that pop up for us rather than being present with the world around us. But what would it look like to put down the phone, the watch, the iPad? More and more of us are becoming addicted to our devices. There are many ways to start to eliminate that and decrease the stress. Many, myself included, admit to feeling badly when they go on Facebook because everything looks so…”perfect.” But, we need to remember, social media is entirely filtered. We only share the “good” moments because we don’t want to be “that downer friend,” right? Of course not, so we put our mask on social media. Several ways to let go of the addiction start with mindfulness–when we are mindful of our impulses we are less likely to give into them. Another way is to remove the social media apps from our phones. I did this with Facebook, a platform with which I was completely consumed and at first I struggled. I wanted to know what was happening! What could I be missing? Did people miss me? The answer was, nothing and no. It forced me to text my friends and check in with them and even make face-to-face plans to be WITH them, as humans! Now, I am on a couple times a week on my computer to do something with my business and that’s it. Stress is so much less. Even occasional full-on social media breaks are wonderful because it gives you a chance to reset and be present in your life.
Spend time with your family and friends:
We spend so much of our time at our jobs that often we are tired when we come home and want nothing more than to plop down on the couch and binge on Netflix (at least that’s what I like to do after a long day of “adulting”). But, when I do have that spark of energy, I find that spending time with my son is healing. He reminds me to be centered and enjoy life in the now (kids are amazing at reminding us not to take life so seriously). There are other times when we need to take a “mental health day”, as it were, and spend time with our loved ones. Will the corporate wheel stop spinning because you take a day for yourself to be with your family? No…not even a little. Will someone be annoyed? Yeah, probably, but people will react how they will react. You can only be productive at your job if you take care of you.
Take a day off:
I’m no longer in the corporate world. As a business owner I work pretty much all the time. I take calls, answer emails, update Instagram, and then massage clients five days/week. That’s a lot. I didn’t take a break for close to 4 months, and my body was feeling it. I finally got insanely sick this last weekend and I think it was the Universe’s way of making me take a day off. It was nice. Yeah, I didn’t feel great, but I got to hang out with my kiddo, watch the Broncos win, and then eat a dinner with my family (something I rarely get to do on Sundays anymore). I felt better yesterday and today I’m back to 100%. I needed to slow down and take a day off. It was a great reminder to just step back and take care of me. How can I take care of clients when I’m feeling burnt out? The answer is, I can’t. The same goes for everyone else out there. For those who work corporate you can use a day of PTO for you. Servers and other service industry workers can find someone to cover their shift (I know because I did it in college…A LOT…when I had to study for exams and whatnot). There’s always a way to take time for you. If you don’t your body will make you, like mine did, by checking out and surrendering to illness because that’s the only way you’ll stop. So, before it gets to that point, listen to your body and your mind. If you are feeling anxious, frustrated, or sad when you think about work, take a day off.
Cut out activities:
We often overbook our schedules, whether it’s our own activities or those of our children. If you’re feeling stretched thin, it’s time to trim out the activities. This is even beneficial for our children if they are in activities because they can begin to feel burdened by the stress as well. Of course we want ourselves and our children to have opportunity and new experiences, but what if we did it one at a time? If your child is in soccer, art, and dance, maybe do soccer and art for a season, and dance and art another (or whatever). If you are involved in PTA, yoga, book club, and work, cut out the book club and PTA for awhile. You will feel so much better and as though a weight has lifted from your shoulders if you aren’t burdened with all of this extra “stuff.”
Eat well, exercise well, and sleep well
Eat well (cutting out sugar, eating whole foods and plant-based) can help eliminate stress because Omega-6’s can cause brain inflammation, which can lead to mood swings. Exercise is a well-known stress-reducer. For me, I love a nice run after a long day at work. It’s grounding and releases endorphins so I feel happy (or the “runner’s high”) after I’m done. Yoga is also nice because it’s meditative and allows me to slow down. Having a consistent sleep schedule is also key to reducing stress and allowing you to recharge and your body to take a break. Sleep allows your brain to slow and your body to rejuvenate. If you are missing out on sleep your rhythms can be affected along with your mood, memory, and judgment.
We all need breaks, and that’s okay. I am a massage therapist who preaches self-care and I allowed myself to slip into a routine of little self-care and added stress and wound up sick. I got a massage myself and went to yoga today and feel like a new woman. If we take care of ourselves we can be better workers, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, and friends. Remember to take a day for you so the days don’t overtake you.