The alarm goes 6:30am and from then on I am constantly doing, and constantly thinking. My mind is a buzz of productivity and creativity, and my body a buzz of activity; bustling around, numerous jobs, activities, studies and commutes.
At the end of my day I love nothing more than to feel I have achieved.You know what it's like to have that deep satisfaction of ticking all the boxes on the 'to do' list; so great. Only then am I allowed to snuggle up on the couch to watch an episode of Bake Off or Blue Planet. However, more often than not ten minutes in and I end up once again with my laptop out, work head on, feeling "guilty" for taking time off.
Sounds silly, but for many of us just 'chilling out' can be really hard. It's something I hate doing so I realised it as a challenge I needed to face, and I know I'm not the only one!
What happens after a while?Burnout.The stress headaches begin. The anxiety creeps in. Sleeping becomes disrupted. Guilt and Perfectionism? ...lets not even open that can of worms.I feel rubbish, achey, and begin picking up every illness under the sun.
Basically, my body is telling me "whoa slow down and chill", but my mind is telling me "you ought to be doing something productive".
Can You Empathise?
Often we find it hard to stop. Many of us are often great at offering self-care advice to others, then ignore the signs of burnout and stress in our own lives. Recently I decided enough was enough. I needed to listen to my body, to take care of myself and relax. The idea from going from always "doing" to learning how to just "be" made me kinda nervous, I felt bad, and at first I found it hard. But as the weekend unravelled, the effects on both my body and mind were unsurprisingly awesome.
Top Tips To Swicthing Off
- Split your "to-do" list into "ought to do" and "want to do": This was actually a tip from my old man, who told me to re-structure my to-do list into things I "want" to do and "ought" to do.The want to do list is what you find important, what you feel you're missing out on that you want to do more off, these things will motivate you, bring a smile to your face and give you peace of mind. Be honest with yourself and you'll be surprised when you listen to your body and hear what its telling you it wants to do...it may not want to go to the gym today ya' know.
- Don't be afraid to take time off!Not books. No emails. No researching. These will get done but are placed int he ought to do column for when feeling more refreshed. You'll find coming back more relaxed and rested you'll have more motivation and energy, so productivity in the long term is greater!!
- Go Exploring: Autumn is my favourite season, but I felt I was missing out on all the fantastic smells, colours and walks that I love at this time of year! I spent a weekend exploring some of my favourite countryside getaways. This cleared my mind and eased the tension headaches. My body appreciated the gentle movement, and I was able to spend time with close friends and feel, for once, a little more relaxed.
Don't be so hard on yourself!
If you begin to feel guilty about taking time off for you challenge those thoughts and remind yourself that you are hard-working and deserve some down time. Often this is because we are perfectionists and believe we need to constantly be bettering ourselves and making advances in work, relationships, studies.. Try talking to yourself like you were your best mate. Hopefully you'd never tell them to continuously push themselves into overworking without recuperation, so why put these harsh expectations on yourself?
Get earlier nights:
Sleep is SO important. Your body heals faster when you sleep, and cortisol levels (the stress hormone) decrease allowing your body to deeply relax. If you find it hard to sleep then try going into bed a bit earlier, have a relaxing bedtime routine with limited use of blue light from TV and electronics. Things I love are a good book, scented candles and having a hot water bottle so I can get seriously snuggly. If you can't sleep after 40mins I'd have a break from bed; get up, make a herbal tea, stretch, and then go back and try again.
Wine is Always a Good Idea...
Whilst I will not advocate downing bottle upon bottle of wine, and vast quantities of chocolate, a nice glass of red I find soothes the soul, and relaxes my mind...and what's wine without the cheeseboard or chocolate 'ey? There's even been recent research (published by
) suggesting that a glass
of red wine may lower perceived stress and increase longevity. [
How great is research like that?! I'll happily be a volunteer.Winning]
Whatever your choice of tipple, be it a hot choccie, or gentle camomile and honey, make space for that little something calming and comforting.
Don't Take Life So Seriously:
The most important self-care tip! We live in a culture of work-a-holics. But seriously chill, there is time!
You don't have to have everything sorted out, or be productive every second of every day. Do stuff just because it's fun, silly, stupid or new!
Spend time making memories with friends, do the things you love, with the people you love in the places you love. You'll find doing things that make you smile and laugh more take your focus off the stressors and give a healthy perspective on life.
I hope this post has helped you think about the things you feel you really "want" versus "ought" to do, and how to incorporate some real rest and relaxation time into your busy-body weeks! If you have any other tips and tricks post them in the comments below! Remember: Rest and relaxation is integral to our mental health and wellbeing. So In the long term will make us more productive and happier.
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