It’s a stressful time. In the midst of emotions, conflict, worries – and the pressure and responsibilities of daily life – many of us are finding it a challenge to stay grounded and to balance our caring and our strong feelings with the self-care and peacefulness that allows us to function at our best.
There’s no tool for measuring global stress eating and disrupted sleep, but I’m guessing comfort food sales are strong these days.
Here’s the thing. Your voice, your feelings, and your opinions are important. Your responsibilities are important, and, of course, so are your relationships and your priorities.
Whatever you are feeling or needing or wanting to say or to help make happen in the world today, only YOU can show up as the best version of YOU.
“Life is not a dress rehearsal.” – Rose Tremain
The thing is, to show up fully, and to accomplish what YOU want to accomplish, you’ve got to be primed and ready to go. You can’t be your most amazing self and bring your unique strength-set to the table if you’re distracted, off-balance, sleep-deprived, or in a sugar haze.
Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to reset.
You know when you have too many windows open on your computer and it stops cooperating? You need to clear your cache, restart your browser, or sometimes completely reboot. Sometimes we need that too.
Here are some ways to clear your head, wipe the slate clean, and reset so that you can keep moving forward as your best version of you.
Did you know that sleep actually may clear out toxins? The flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain increases dramatically during sleep, washing away harmful waste proteins that build up between brain cells during waking hours. Adequate sleep is also essential for focus, creative problem solving, resilience, and optimal stress management. The temptation, during stressful times, maybe to stay up longer so that you can “do more” or “give yourself a break” at the end of the day. When you need a reset, resist the temptation to stay awake and choose sleep instead.
Try something right now. Take out your phone, set a timer for fifteen seconds, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Bonus points if you picture yourself in a peaceful place. How does it feel? Odds are you either feel calmer or more aware of what you are feeling. While the benefit of calming or grounding yourself may be obvious, allowing yourself to be more aware of other feelings is helpful too.
When you know what you feel, you can respond and take better care of yourself, whether that means stopping to stretch, shutting down social media, eating some protein, asking for help with a project you’re stuck on, or just breathing for another fifteen seconds.
Consider adding these short pauses a few times a day. Not only are you giving yourself a mental break and checking in with yourself, you are actually doing a mini reset of your nervous system (your body can’t be activating a stress response and a relaxation response at the same time).
Do something rejuvenating every day.
Your soul and your spirit need to be fed if you want to be your best version of you. Some days, you won’t have the energy for anything major, but that’s okay. Step outside and breathe the air. Appreciate the sunrise or sunset on your commute. Listen to music you love. Find a way to get a good laugh.
Being kind and compassionate with yourself sets you up to be strong and fabulous when you most need to be.
Change the station.
Whatever it is that is getting to you, make sure that you spend some time every day focused on something else. Do you know why your best ideas pop up in the shower or when you wake up? It’s because you allowed your brain to relax. Constant vigilance is exhausting, stressful, and a road to burnout. Make sure to give yourself permission to include pleasure in your day.
Rejuvenating activities make you more productive, happier, and healthier in the long run – and life is a marathon, not a sprint.
Commit to screen-free blocks of time daily.
Give yourself a break from emails, texts, calls, news, social media, and the blue light that goes with them (which can disrupt your circadian rhythms and your sleep). Unplugging may feel awkward or uncomfortable at first, but it’s a powerful way to give your nervous system a (probably) much-needed rest. Consider setting aside a two-hour screen-free block in the evening and/or not checking email for the first hour of your day.
One more important thing – sometimes, the times when we most need a reset are the times when we are least aware or least open to it. You may only notice the value of resetting after you’ve tried it a few times. Give yourself a seven-day challenge. Commit to a week of resetting and then evaluate how it feels.