Take a deep breath…
For many of us, spring comes with renewed energy, an overflow of ideas and creativity. Somehow the quiet of the winter is replace with a fully booked schedule and you find yourself overcommitted.
Social activities pick up, work doesn’t slow down and as the days get nicer, we get an inherent impulse to take on new things.
In principle, this is good. But for many of us, it may also come with a sense of overwhelm.
When I find myself in this position, I make a conscious effort to SLOW down. It may sound counter intuitive… after all, if you find yourself with more on your plate, shouldn’t you handle it all? Quickly?
This is how I went about most of my life. The more responsibility and commitments I had, the harder I went about doing things. I must also say that rushing through life this way left me not only exhausted but also with very little energy to make good, healthy choices.
In this state of rush, is easy to find yourself eating whatever comes your way (hello refined carbohydrates and sugary treats/drinks!); either not exercising or doing it in a manner that is unsafe and conducive to injury; drinking too much coffee and alcohol and sleeping too little and poorly, among others. Our relationships and the overall quality of life suffers as well.
Next thing you know, you’re edgy, shaky and arguing your way through the day…
I few years ago, I found myself trapped in a vicious cycle. Being exhausted and burnt out propelled me to make poor, rather than healthy choices such as drinking too much coffee and reaching for quick (usually processed) meals. Making poor, unhealthy choices, made me, in turn, feel even more exhausted. If you’ve ever felt this way, you know it is difficult to break the cycle, but by no means impossible. It simply takes some patience and a conscious effort to handle things differently and to try new things.
Over the years,I’ve developed some personal strategies that help regain balance when things begin to feel out of control. Here are some of them:
- Find a morning routine that works for you and commit to it: I find the way you start your day sets the tone for the rest of it. Do you reach for your phone as you wake up and feel stressed by emails and texts? Are you always waking up late, skipping breakfast and fight your way out the door so you can make it in time for work? Take an inventory of how your starting your day and make it a priority to do it in way that sets you up for success. For some people this may be starting with exercise, for others is meditation or some other form of quiet time. Whatever it is, don’t waste your precious energy the first hour of your day but rather use it to energize you for whatever is ahead of you;
- Include movement in your day: your already know that exercise is a wonderful tool to aid in stress management. Find some form of exercise that suits you, work it in your daily and respect this time;
- Eat well and resist the temptation to over-indulge: I cannot stress enough how important it is to eat well ESPECIALLY in times of high stress. When you eat well, you simply feel better and have way more energy to handle life. Processed and refined foods are not only voided of nutrients but they also spike blood sugar levels, which depletes your energy and contributes to that sense of edginess. The key to making changes in this area is to prepare for the week: make time for grocery shopping and to prepare snacks and meals for the week;
- Go easy on sugar and other stimulants: coffee and sugary foods may give you a temporary boost but in addition to making us feel anxious, sugar, coffee and other stimulants lower immunity, making us more vulnerable to colds, allergies and infection;
- Find balance between activity and rest: staying connected and having an active social life is an often under-looked health booster but like anything in life, too much of a good thing can also compromise health and balance. If you’re staring at your agenda and feeling anxious, this is a sign that it might be too much. Cut back and learn to say no when you need to;
- Consider supplementation: Magnesium is THEanti-stress mineral! Consult with your health practitioner if adding magnesium might be right for you;
- Unplug. Yes! Go for a walk without your phone. Sit with your family and friends and be present. I know you’re a smart cookie and you can handle loads of information coming your way but trust me, your nervous system will thank you and your amazing brain and emotions will respond with higher alertness, productivity and optimism.
Finally, welcome the season and its transition. Learn from your reactions, treat them as messages and teachers. Adjust for your own benefit and with less judgement.
I hope you may find these useful,