Before agreeing to everything under the sun, check in with how you’re feeling. Allow yourself to say no when you instinctively know or feel you have too much on your plate. And if you accidentally over-extend yourself, it is OK to change your mind, re-schedule, delegate, or have a conversation about how you can create more space for yourself.
2. Ask for help
In many ways, children are our best teachers. I love the way they unapologetically ask for help in the instant that they need it. Next time you feel overwhelmed or frustrated, try asking for what you need: “I need help.” or “Can you help me?”
3. Have a break
Give yourself some time to take a break away from the pressures of thinking, fixing, analyzing and doing. This might be literally an hour in a day or a few days away, or a vacation.
4. Assess, Act, Presence
Focus on changing what is within your control – either circumstance or perception—and do your best soften to the rest, while remaining compassionate for yourself throughout this process.
Assess: When you notice you are stressed, or that a thought is looping, try to evaluate whether or not the thing you are stressed about is within your direct control in the present moment.
Act: If it is, take action. If it is in your control, but there is nothing you can do about it right now, write down a plan or some ideas for how you might resolve it (it is important to get it out of your head and on paper).
Presence: If the stressful situation is entirely out of your control, recognize this and do your best to shift your focus back into the present (where your true power lies). Practice recognizing when you are “fighting” against pressures and circumstances over which you have no control. It’s ok and normal to attune to and feel the suffering and hardship of others, or to feel triggered by external circumstances, and even worry a bit. In these moments, try gently asking yourself: Is this productive? – i.e., to what extent is this worrying or anticipation useful and when does it become detrimental to my productivity, health and happiness?
When you find yourself stressed about things out of your control or past or future events, take your power back by shifting your awareness back into the present moment – connect with your breath, relax your body, check in with what you feel, and recognize what you have control over.
5. Ritualize plugging yourself in
Identify your personal outlets and plug yourself in regularly. What recharges you? There are the obvious and important ones like sleep, hydration, nutrition, movement/exercise, fresh air and vital breathing, but knowing the self-care rituals that your body, mind and spirit thrive off of is key to cultivating resilience and wellbeing. For example, your outlets may be: play, time with children, unstructured time, painting, writing, reading, storytelling, dinner dates, swimming, spiritual connection, or taking a walk in nature. The best form of health care is self-care!
6. Enjoy yourself
Do something that you really enjoy. If we have been stressed over a significant period of time, we tend to forget what it’s like to “enjoy” life! (“I don’t have time to rush.”)
7. Celebrate your life and accomplishments
It’s easy to lose yourself in the thick of your long-term goals and become demoralized when you encounter setbacks or don’t see immediate results. Be attentive to the accomplishment of smaller steps too, because progress can only be seen through acknowledgement while your end-goal remains distant. For example, maybe you set a goal to read a book a month this year. Halfway through you might have only gotten through three books because of life’s busy strokes. Not acknowledging your progress provides a source of frustration. It’s still more books than you read last year.
8. Practice gratitude
Seeking gratitude nurtures an attitude of abundance. Shifting your focus from what you don’t have to what you do have entertains the idea that you have something to work with within your current situation, instead of imposing limitations.
9. Avoid thinking in absolutes
Learn to embrace uncertainty and remember that you cannot predict the future; when in doubt, learn from (but don’t live in) the past (it is the best predictor of future circumstance, behaviors and outcomes that we have).
Integrate daily resilience-building and relaxation practices, like: meditation, yoga, deep breathing, writing, reading, taking a hot bath, going for a leisurely walk, sitting quietly in reflection, 3 gratitudes, taking a technology fast, or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) tactics, etc.
About the Author
Allison Andrews, M.Ed, Certified Health Coach, Certified Yoga Teacher, Corporate Wellness Specialist
A natural leader, community builder, and teacher, Allison founded OmBody Health in 2014 to make health and wellbeing more accessible to busy people. As OmBody’s Founder, Program Director, Speaker and Coach, she is the heart and soul of the company, supporting employers to implement initiatives to optimize the experience and potential of their people, and evolving her teachings to champion the importance of self-care and self-trust, in the workplace.