Monday, 26 March 2018

BethTalks: Relax, You've Got This!

Today we’re going to talk about what to do after hitting a wall.  These are some tips on post-breakdown self-care.  We will also dabble in the field of stress management; a how-to guide for surviving stress, sadness, and anxiousness.  Sometimes it’s really hard to motivate yourself.  When you’re feeling overwhelmed and indifferent your willpower alone is often not enough to get you to actually get off your butt and finish tasks.  If you’re feeling down, this one’s for you.

Why do we feel stressed?  Stress permeates the capitalist culture.  The reality is that stress comes naturally with being overworked, underpaid, and fearful.  And due to our society’s construct, we are usually experiencing at least one of these things at any given moment.  It is a result of subjectively bad trade-offs.  We trade sleep for studying.  Time for money.  Authenticity for reputation.  Generally, we prioritize getting ahead in life (whatever that means) over enjoying life.  This is not to bash working hard.  I believe that the hustle is a crucial part of making your dreams a reality and generally living a meaningful life.  But all work and no play harms your psyche and contributes to many crises (existential, quarter-life, identity, etc.).  We all need fun in our lives; it’s a major benefactor to a happy life.  During the struggle between looking good (because of accomplishments) and feeling good (because of continuous self-care), there are some things you can do to alleviate some of the pressure.

Productivity Tips:

1. Wake Up Early
Do not hit snooze!  Commit to getting up a certain time and then actually roll out of bed on time.  It’s important to get a jump on the day.  The sooner you get up the sooner you can start tackling that mile-long to-do list.

2. Self-Improvement Tools
Take on at least one activity that will result in self-improvement.  This could be practicing mindfulness through meditation or yoga.  You could work on learning a new skill like a language or how to use editing software.  Seek wisdom from those who have more experience than you in a given area via YouTube or books.  There are many things that you can do to get to the next iteration of yourself.  Caring for yourself also means planning for your future.  Having goals can help us feel productive.

3. Set Goals
Statements like “I will finish ____ by x o’clock” are super helpful.  Time limits ensure that you stay on schedule, allowing you to get more done in a day.  

Stress Management Tips:

1. Don’t Overschedule Yourself 
The day only has 24 hours.  Why are you trying to get 48 hours worth of work in?  Know your limit and operate within it.  Eliminating the impossible will help you stop stressing about all the things that you didn’t get done.

2. Take Breaks
Your brain cannot work for hours on end without a break.  Your attention span does not last that long and you will get frustrated if you attempt to power through when you get stuck.  It’s like getting your car stuck in the mud: if you put on the gas, you will just wedge yourself deeper into the mud.

3. Plan For Everything 
A schedule is like your best friend if you have something you need to do let your schedule know.  Everything should be on the schedule; homework, classes, shifts, extracurriculars, plans with friends, hobbies, etc.  Everything should be planned for so you can get everything you want to done.  If it’s not on the schedule, it’s not happening.

Self-Care Tips:

1. Treat Yourself 
You need things to look forward to and sometimes the promise of future freedom and riches just doesn’t cut it.  You need to have rewards now, they can’t all be in the future or else it will be really hard to motivate yourself.  Whether it’s watching an episode of your favourite tv show, reading a new book, or getting a Starbucks latte, these little treats will help you get through the day and get stuff done.  Don’t overindulge or this tip will no longer be effective.

2. Go Outside 
The great outdoors does wonders for the body.  Fresh air can make you feel more awake and in tune with your surroundings.  I definitely feel more alive outside.  We spend so much time inside at desks, in cubicles, behind counters; it’s stifling.  Give yourself the gift of venturing outside and, if possible, use that time to relax and re-centre.

3. Get Adequate Sleep
Now I know that this is not a viable option all the time.  It’s definitely something I need to work on (I get 3-5 hours on average).  But when you get enough sleep you are able to work more efficiently thus allowing you to be done faster.  You won’t be much use to yourself if you’re burnt out because of exhaustion due to lack of sleep.

There are many many more tips out there regarding productivity, stress management, and self-care, but I believe that this is a good starting point.  I wanted to include some suggestions regarding these three areas because I believe that they are all intertwined.  If one of these areas are lacking, it has a negative impact on the other two.  For example, if you’re not in a good headspace, then it’s really hard to get stuff done.  We need to be actively managing all of these areas if we want our lives to be happy ones.

PS.  If you want to get dive into these topics further you should check out some of the links below.
- Yoga With Adriene:  Yoga for Stress Relief
- Carrie Rad:  How to Relax

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