I sent the kids inside the house, sat in the car alone and devoured the 2 minutes of silence. Before the craziness starts again, I thought. I started stealing a minute here, a minute there, just to be quiet. It’s the Summer and it will get better, I told myself. But didn’t I tell myself that last Spring?
I have always believed that thoughts are under one’s control and that it’s all a mindset game. The more I get caught up in the “busyness” and keep telling others that I am busy, my mind makes it happen. I may not actually be swamped, but my mind says that I am because that’s what is coming out of my mouth. Those are the thoughts that I am thinking.
Finally, I gave up. It’s way too hard to live like this with a mind full of anxiety and stress, more than half of which is made up in my own mind! And so I decided to build in some routines to help me cope, de-stress and find a sense of balance. It was essential to stop, take a step back and incorporate strong, effective steps to really make a difference. For my own sanity. And so I did and these steps made a huge difference not only to de-stress my life and work but also to change my mindset of the continuous “busyness” and bring a sense of balance.
- Alone time. For me, it came in the form of meditation. Like some, I wish I could just sit outside in the wee hours of the morning for 15-20 min and do nothing. But that is not me. And so I decided to try meditation. Mind you, I have a million thoughts racing through my mind almost all the time and so it was really hard to do at first. But eventually, I made it a habit. I started with 10 min a day and slowly progressed to 15 min. Find what works for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment. I tried several different meditation methods and finally, there are 2 in particular that I end up picking. I prefer guided meditation and the ones that I go to all the time is Tara Brach and an app called Headspace.
- Find the most productive time of day. Being an entrepreneur and business owner, I realize that working 24/7 is ingrained in me. The times when I am not in the mood to work or just plain, not working, I am constantly berating myself. I feel guilty because I am not doing something- anything related to business. It had to stop. I felt as if I was never present in the moment and always kept worrying that I wasn’t doing enough. It really was weighing me down. I carefully evaluated and figured out the most productive time of day. For me, it’s the early morning. I wake up a couple of hours early and work for a few hours at a stretch because I enjoy it. In the afternoons or late evenings, I am not that productive. That’s when I go on social media avoid any intensely creative work. It really helped me focus and actually get more productive.The biggest consequence was actually being present in the moment and not constantly worrying.
- List your accomplishments. I like to plan my week during the weekends. It’s great because I can keep myself on track and really focus on getting the priorities done. Planning my week worked and I was completing tasks but somehow I didn’t feel the inner satisfaction. That’s when I started listing my finished tasks of the day. And that changed my entire perspective. So every morning I write the date on a blank page of my notebook and every time I complete a task, I would make a note. Now, this can also include important emails. And even small, micro-tasks that lead to bigger tasks. But at the end of the day, I can see everything that I have accomplished that day. The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction is quite amazing. In fact, it gives me such a morale boost that I am rearing to go for the next day.
- Find time to truly disconnect. I love to go on long walks with my husband. That’s when I truly disconnect. There is no phone or email. Find what works for you. How can you truly disconnect even for a few minutes? For some people, Sundays are tech free days. Try that and see the difference. Maybe switch off the TV and read a book instead. Once or twice a week, or a few minutes a day, it is very important to just disconnect.
- Own fewer things – When we moved out of our home of 10 years, I realized that I had collected the most unnecessary things. With young children, we would buy all these paraphernalia which they play with for a couple of days and then it’s just laying around the house. As I was packing and cleaning, I vowed to own as few things as I really need. Too many things around you are like visual caffeine. It can increase anxiety and stress. I had heard a quote somewhere which has stuck with me – “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. Minimalism is a way of life that can de-stress your mind in incredible ways. Try it today and feel yourself being enveloped by a calmness.
Being present in the moment and using these strategies will help to de-stress and find balance in business and life. And of course, don’t forget the one thing that works instantly, deep breaths. Every time you feel stressed or anxious, take a few deep breaths and instantly you’ll feel a sense of control.