Look after yourself the same way you look after your phone…
Can you remember the last time you let your phone run out of battery? Or even let it get down to 20 or 10%?
For a lot of us, it’s simply unthinkable. We plug the phone in and recharge it before we let it drop so low. Yet, we often don’t take the same attitude with ourselves.
We’re so busy running around, working, taking care of the household, looking after others…generally getting on with the busyness of life, that we either don’t notice our own energy levels depleting or we choose to ignore it. It’s a recipe for burnout & no matter how resilient we are, we all have our limits, as I know from personal experience.
Many of us use unhelpful coping strategies, such as drinking or eating too much, working longer hours, taking on more responsibilities whilst ignoring our own needs.
But to properly take care of ourselves and stay resilient against the ups and downs of our 21st Century 24/7 lives, we need to take time to relax & recharge our own batteries.
Below are four ways that have been proven by research to help us de-stress. Have a read through and have a think – what could you do under each of these categories? Are you doing enough of them? Are you doing them often enough? How can you try and incorporate them into your life when it begins to feel that your stress container is at maximum & it may overflow?
Ultimately: How can you look after yourself even better than you look after your phone?
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to run out and sign up for your local 10k – unless that’s your bag! But exercise is consistently proven to make us feel better, not just physically but mentally, helping to reduce stress and anxiety and improve our overall well-being.
I enjoy going for long walks and doing yoga. You might like to try kickboxing, or fancy wild swimming. As always, the main thing is to find what you like to do and what works for you. If you find something you actually enjoy, you’ll be much more likely to make time for it and, crucially, stick with it. Learning something new has extra benefits for our mental health too – even if it’s a physical task.
- Get a good night’s sleep
After all that exercise, you’ll need to replenish your energy levels! Quality sleep not only renourishes your physical body but also replenishes your mind, focus and cognitive function, so that you can file away events into memories you can understand and live with. I’m sure we’ve all had that feeling the day after a bad night’s sleep when we’re tired, more irritable, a bit cranky and everything just feels a lot harder work.
Sometimes, getting a good night’s sleep can be out of your control. But, creating good habits and establishing an evening routine, can work wonders for getting better quality sleep long term. For example, reducing caffeine & alcohol, not looking at screens too late, getting into a routine for bed, winding down period, gratitude list, making sure your room is a comfortable temperature.
- Talking to someone
Connecting with other people is one of the ‘five ways to well-being’ set out by the NHS. This can mean having a heart-to-heart conversation with a good friend or it can be as simple as engaging with someone serving you in the coffee shop or petrol station – rather than just grabbing your coffee and paying, ask them ‘how are you today’ and really listen to their answer.
Taking a little bit of time to connect with a friend, family member or stranger can really boost your mood. We’re social beings and we do well around others…so try calling that friend you haven’t seen in a while, Zoom your parent, go for lunch with a colleague, ask your neighbour how they’re doing.
- Relaxation or mindfulness techniques
If you’re the kind of person who squirms at the mention of anything to do with mindfulness, hear me out. Some people like to practise mindfulness formally through things like meditation and breathing practices. If that works for you, great. If it doesn’t, rest assured you can still get the Zen-like calm of mindfulness through less formal ways.
For example, going for a walk, cooking a meal, doing a jigsaw, working on that project in your shed or in the garden, fixing your old Land Rover or riding a motorbike… Almost anything can be done mindfully as long as you stay in the present moment and focus entirely on what you are doing in that moment. So, when you go for a walk, (No.1 choice of most people to de-stress during lockdown), pay full attention to what’s happening on that walk, leave your phone at home and simply be walking, taking in the sounds, the sights, the smells and the experience of your walk.
These kinds of mindful activities give our minds a break and allow them to rest for a little while, even though they may be concentrating hard on other activities. This works especially well if the focused activity is enjoyable for us e.g. playing an instrument or building lego.
Find which ways help you to rest and recharge and try to do something regularly – daily if you can. Remember, you are more important to recharge than your phone!
If you found this helpful, or want a chat about anything mental health-related for your business, organisation or team, drop me a line and let me know. I’m happy to connect and hear where you need a little help.
Go well & enjoy recharging yourself this autumn!
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