Last week I had the honour of sharing my daily stress buster tips with a wonderful group of women in digital media at Accenture, at a breakfast event, the theme of which was ‘health and wellness life hacks’.
I talked about the irony of leaving my corporate job to create a healthy living website being that I now work harder than I’ve ever worked. My work has become so intertwined with my life and there have been times that I’ve let it become all-consuming and in doing so, compromised my health. With the fast paced nature of modern life and the digital world, we all face challenges when it comes to managing our health and finding balance in our lives, which, for me it’s a constantly evolving process – learning what works for me at that point in time, paying attention to how I’m feeling and tweaking things as I go.
I find that the smallest tweaks to my daily routine make the biggest difference when it comes to managing stress.
There are 6 things that help me manage stress, that I’d love to share in the hope they might help you too…
1. Create time and space for yourself at the beginning of each day
As a general rule, I don’t look at my phone messages/social media/emails etc until after my morning exercise, this is my time to prepare for the day without distraction. And my devices go off and my phone on aeroplane mode ideally an hour before I go to bed, and it doesn’t come into the bed room, this is my time and space to wind down, shut out all the noise and ensure I get a good sleep.
2. Minimise distractions throughout the day so you can focus on the things that really matter.
I heard a brilliant talk at TedX Melbourne by George Bej, General Manager of Marketing at Laminex Australia. He talked of disruption as a chronic condition infringeing upon every part of our existence and the need to disrupt interruptions in our lives or fail at what we set out to achieve as teams, businesses and families.
How many times you think you’re interrupted every day?
George estimates that we are interrupted roughly every 8 minutes – 50 to 60 distractions a day! Each distraction takes around 10 minutes to resolve. That’s 8 hours we need to deal with the distractions and an extra 4 hours to achieve what we need to, and 28% of our day is in our inbox, with 15 checks per day. It’s madness isn’t it?
What’s the answer? Obviously you need to find a solution that works within the context of your job. But have a think about how much time you spend in your inbox and try to minimise the amount of time you spend in it to focus on the things that really matter. I’m getting in the habit of checking and responding to emails, social media and text messages at set times each day and finding it’s making a world of difference to my productivity and stress levels.
The simple act of breathing can have profound impacts on our health and improper breathing is in fact the norm these days, and it can cause all kinds of health conditions. Yoga and meditation is what helps get me breathing properly. There’s some great apps out there if you’re new to meditation, I love Headspace. I’ve also just learned Transcendental Meditation and am amazed at what an impact it’s having after only 4 days. (I’ll tell you more about this later). You can also check out this story for breathing dynamics expert Tim Altman’s tips for breathing properly.
4. Slow down
This year I’ve been doing less high intensity exercise in favour of things that slow me down and I’m amazed at what a difference it makes. We spend our lives constantly on the go, rushing from place to place, so it’s important to make time to slow down and do things that are healing and nourishing for our bodies. I’m loving Yin Yoga for this very reason. It’s a restorative style of yoga that’s all about finding stillness. I love it so much I’ve come up with 7 reasons to try Yin Yoga.
5. Brain dump before bed
If my mind is ticking over I brain dump before bed. I write down any thoughts, worries, or things I need to do the next day, and leave those thoughts on a piece of paper outside my bedroom for re-visiting in the morning, I’m finding this makes a big difference in helping me get to sleep.
The notion being kind to ourselves isn’t something that comes easily to us, particularly as women, but I’m finding that a little bit of self-kindness goes a long way. I am often guilty of putting far too much pressure on myself and trying to please everyone else. But I’ve realised I’m not much good to the people I care about or my business if I don’t look after myself first. For me this means being realistic about the things I can achieve in one day – focus on the bigger picture things and giving myself a pat on the back for getting those things done instead of torturing myself for all the little things I didn’t get to.
I’m also finding that regular time out – whether it be a 5 minute walk around the block during the working day, leaving the house without my phone while I do my grocery shop, or going away, is key to managing stress. Even though I’m my own boss, I still get the guilts if I take time out during a busy day – but I know that it results in less stress, more clarity, energy, ideas and productivity.
What things work for you when it comes to managing stress? I’d love you to tell me in the comments below…