Prioritise self-care to increase productivity
Updated: Sep 20, 2018
March is always a busy month for me, family birthdays, volunteering, school commitments, and the anniversary of my dad passing away (which, despite being 18 years ago, is still never easy).
Over time, I’ve noticed that my mind and body ride an emotional rollercoaster during this month. And while I don’t feel ‘stressed’ as such, I do experience poor sleep, digestive issues, headaches and so on – so I know that my body is out of balance.
There was one week this month that I knew was going to be especially hectic. I had even more on my plate than usual and lots to do before Friday. My head was in a frenzy and I started to feel overwhelmed. How was I possibly going to get it all done? Was my to-do list setting me up for a fall?
At the same time, my body was sending me messages to slow down. I was tired, lacked focus and was not very productive. It was time to listen to this amazing machine inside me…so, I decided to reboot.
I’m pretty good at prioritizing but I started to streamline my tasks that I knew I didn’t have to be done that day and already started to feel better. We always jam pack so much more in the day than we can actually get done and then beat ourselves up about it. I guess that’s just human nature.
In the same moment, a Facebook notification popped up on my phone, followed by another on Instagram. My focus shifted and I was compelled to see who had commented on my post from last night.
The penny dropped. What was I doing? Was this going to help me achieve my goals for this week?
This was doing nothing for my wellbeing.
My body was calling for self-care and it needed to move to the top of my list before I could get anything else done. Not so easy when you already feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day :(
I started to think rationally about coping with the chaos in my head? What were my non-negotiables that would give me strength and the focus I needed? I came up with four.
Number one. A social media cleanse. Cold turkey for the next few days. There was no value in mindlessly checking my phone when I was already stressed so I turned off all notifications. I was going to use my phone to call and text, just like the old fashioned way. This was a BIG DEAL for me, but I was committed to sticking to it, knowing it would help my mental wellbeing.
Number two. Meditation. I always find so much peace and calm during my morning meditation and had slipped in the last week. My body was definitely feeling it, I was being irrational at home, making poor choices with my food and lacking overall mental clarity. So I made a commitment to meditate everyday without fail over the next week.
Number three. Healthy, nourishing home cooked food that would feed and fuel my soul – without spending hours in kitchen. Anyone that knows me will tell you that I am extremely passionate about what my family eats – but this week I didn’t have time to research and experiment with new recipes. I batch cooked like crazy, keeping meals simple, yet still nutritious.
Number four. Gratitude, something we all take for granted when living in chronic stress or ‘fight or flight’ mode. So I made sure that every night, before I went to bed, I journaled/acknowledged three things that I was grateful for that day. A simple exercise that can work wonders for your state of mind.
Having taken care of my non-negotiables, I felt energized and ready to tackle the days ahead. A completely different mindset to how I was feeling earlier in the week.
Did I miss the social media? Not at all, it actually gave me a few extra minutes here and there to get one step closer to crossing more off my list. The anxiety slowly lifted and I felt a spring in my step, giving my full attention to what needed to be done rather than frantically multi tasking and failing. I finished the week feeling accomplished and super proud that for once, I had listened to my body.
I was amazed at the shift in me and how I nourished I felt physically, emotionally and mentally. Was it really that easy? Just by listening to myself, meditating every day, eating nutritiously and leaving my phone on the kitchen counter?
Yes, it was.
Self-care is even more important during times of stress when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Yet it’s normally the first thing you overlook because you feel guilty and your brain tells you you don’t have time.
That’s just an excuse.
If you know it’s good for you, make time. Nourish yourself with what you need to feel totally connected with your body, experience mental clarity and a sense of calm.
Spend the next few minutes reflecting on yourself. What are your stress triggers? Are they at a specific time of the week/month/year? What is/are your non-negotiable(s)? What brings you to a state of calm?
Self-care is crucial for our wellbeing, especially during times of stress. Even one simple change can make all the difference; get lost in a book, listen to your favorite music, go for a walk, have a hot bath –whatever it takes to stop your mind from racing and give your brain a break. The work will still be there when you get back, it’s just how you deal with it that will be inherently different.
This exercise taught me to listen to my body because it intrinsically knows what it needs to thrive. I have used this method more than once now and each time, I have felt accomplished at managing my stress.
The more you make time for your body, the more time your body will give you back…try it and wait for the magic to happen.
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