If you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, pressed for time, and stressed, join the club! Only a minority of people report feeling peaceful, equanimous, and blissed out these days. The good news is that you can take a step in that direction and reap a bunch of benefits. Here’s how:
1. Identify what’s important to you, your mindset, and what throws you off balance. Once you identify your values and your non-negotiables, you can simplify and cast off the unimportant to-dos. Maybe rainbow-organizing your pantry and linen closets are a “nice to have” but family time is more of a priority right now. In terms of mindset – have you noticed how some people seem relaxed and carefree as they go about their duties while others seem rattled with the same amount of work? Leading a calmer and more peaceful life often has to do with our personal experiences, belief systems, and coping mechanisms…all of which influence our mindset and our thoughts. By changing those, we can change our behaviors and results.
Consider what throws you off-balance. Is it a last-minute request to participate in your child’s extracurricular activity? The pressure you put on yourself every year to balance not just work but with making each holiday or birthday ‘perfect’ for your family? Or does getting inadequate sleep cause you to feel easily rattled the rest of the day? There is a well-established link between our emotional state and our physical one. By adopting a more peaceful mindset, we can avoid chronic diseases and live longer.
2. Know the signs of an imbalanced life and burnout. Symptoms include headache, sleep disorders, anxiety, tense and stiff muscles, and digestive woes. The stress we’re under can contribute to poor immune function, focus and memory. It can also be detrimental to fertility and sex drive and even accelerate the aging process. Noticing these symptoms early in your life can help prevent you form sliding into burnout or into chronic disease states.
3. Add + subtract. We’re going to let our inner nerd out a bit as we reveal how much we loved stoichiometry and balancing equations in high school. Without complex chemistry and math, just imagine playing with weights on a scale – add another stressor to one side and notice how the beam shifts, especially if there aren’t enough restorative activities in the other scale pan. Here are some ideas to find your own balanced equation:
A negative attitude and negative people – being around people who constantly see the worst of a situation and chronically complain will sap you of energy and peace. You may need to consciously change your attitude first and then have conversations with others to bring about thought-awareness. Run them through the Friendship Test and limit your time with them if necessary.
Let go of anger and hostility. It will rob you of your calm and peace. Re-directing frustration and grievances into physical activity (including a run or boxing) is a more positive way to deal with it.
Declutter your physical environment . A large source of our overwhelm can arise from messy work desks and from our eyes digesting the vast amount of objects and untidiness that can be in each room of our house. Try a little spring cleaning with the Konmari method or learn more about minimalism and essentialism.
A positive attitude – it makes you happy and others want to be around you. Start of your day by thinking about positive attributes you have, what you’re grateful for, and what you have planned for the day. Find something to be excited about.
Assertiveness – express your feelings and be assertive, not aggressive. This helps you feel empowered and prevents little problems from festering into bigger ones.
Find a way to make stressful situations less harmful and more tolerable. Listening to an audiobook or music can make commuting in traffic more bearable.
Mind-training – consider how you typically react to situations and see if there are new thoughts and reactions you could adopt. Nervousness at giving a presentation could also be seen as excitement and an opportunity to polish your public speaking skills.
The forest, the big picture. If you find yourself annoyed by something or someone, ask yourself whether it will matter to you in a few weeks or months. If the answer is no, then release the negative thoughts and focus your energy on activities and people that matter.
For challenging times – focus on what you can control, look for silver linings, and work on forgiveness and acceptance.
Relaxation and play time. Set aside time each day or each week to do something relaxing and enjoyable to you. A bath, yoga, walk in nature, or a good book can help restore your balance.
Restoring your balance and overcoming overwhelm will take intentional practice. Take time each day to simplify your tasks and set clear priorities and boundaries. Learn to incorporate helpful coping strategies and relaxation. Eventually, you’ll notice the scale’s arm coming into alignment and you’ll feel more empowered and have space for the people and activities that bring you joy.