Overwhelmed? How to find clarity
One of my primary aims as a Self-Love Coach is to help people calm the chaos in their lives. Throughout our lives the majority of us will experience feelings of being overwhelmed. Pressures of having it all, whether our careers, finances, families or social lives, can often become immense, and naturally, as our lifestyles become busier, we have less downtime to focus on ourselves. Some of us will be driven by pressure and strive in the face of feeling overwhelmed. However, others of us may get caught up in these ever-growing and seemingly unending to-do lists to the point that we cannot find time to switch off and address our physical and mental state.
I want to address how to work through and navigate these feelings of being overwhelmed and so, together with Talya (Founder of Motherhood: The Real Deal), we have created Self Love Sunday; an event with a mission to conquer those feelings of being overwhelmed and help bring more self-love into the world.
Prior to launching Hayya Health, I progressed in the corporate world as a successful senior marketing professional in pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. I had a very demanding role which entailed a lot of responsibility and long extensive travels. I was a passionate team player and always aspired to work to the best of my ability. I had vision like everyone else to climb up the corporate ladder, making sacrifices of working long hours and working endlessly in evenings, juggling numerous projects, achieving impossible targets and never having enough time in the day. On top of this demanding role, I had to manage family responsibilities too. Juggling everything, I felt busy constantly, with no rest, no me-time and feeling guilty to take time out for myself. My life was dominated by everything other than self-love.
How was this affecting my health and lifestyle?
Feelings of stress, pressure, and being overwhelmed were daily occurrences, coupled with anxiety and an overriding fear I was about to burn out. At the time, I didn’t realise this build up of stress was causing me to suffer from IBS, the Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Like so many people, I was too busy to stop and listen to my body and so I ignored my symptoms for years. In truth, I just wasn’t kind to myself. Self-love and self-care: these things just did not come into my mind, so far away from treating myself as my ultimate first priority. As a result, I was suffering from a lack of sleep, eating unhealthy meals, weight gain and fluctuations, hormonal flare ups, fatigue and consistent headaches.
But my story is no different to so many other busy women…
Feeling trapped is something so many working women experience, trying to fulfil their career aspirations and working antisocially, putting in more and more hours of work. Juggling this with home-life and trying to keep everyone happy can feel an overwhelming task, while maintaining any sense of balance can make you feel under intense pressure. You forget to check in with yourself and simply carry on. It’s near-impossible to show others that you are struggling, as everyone else seems to be powering through regardless. If everyone else is doing the same, how can you admit you are completely exhausted and need to stop?
Then came my breakthrough
I remember the day so clearly. It was 2008 and I was working with GSK at the time in Dubai. On this particular day, my Dad came to visit and I literally collapsed in his arms, gasping for breath. Around this time, I had received some upsetting news about a former colleague and dear friend who had sadly passed away from cardiac arrest, leaving behind a beautiful family, wife and three sons. Soon after hearing the news, I phoned his wife and through her tears she managed to tell me that his body had finally given in to his highly-pressurised job, along with his poor lifestyle choices, triggering his poor health. She warned me to take care of myself. You simply cannot take your body for granted. For me, this was such a major turning point in my attitude towards my body and mental health. I realised I could no longer make excuses and ignore the overwhelming pressure upon me, fighting through because I felt had no choice. I did have a choice. I had to learn how to put my personal wellbeing before anything else. I had to start falling in love with taking care of myself.
Life is too short to compromise your own health and wellbeing in order to repeat mundane obligations and please other people. Yes, you can still please and help other people, but boundaries have to be set and foundations need to be made for pleasing yourself as a priority.
HOW CAN YOU KICKSTART A BETTER WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
First up is the power of saying NO!
Over the years I have learnt my priorities were all wrong. I had to realise that I simply cannot do it all. There is only one of me. You’ve got to learn to say “NO”, because you owe it to the most vital person in the world - YOU! Traditionally as women, there have been many expectations to self-sacrifice, so that our passions are in alignment with the goals and aims of our partners. Fortunately, today’s mindset is somewhat changed, but there still often exists that expectation for us to bend over backwards to accommodate everyone else, whether colleagues or family, and to put our own priorities on the back-burner. However, we all have our own obligations in life and should be allowed to reassess them. We need opportunity to prioritise a better work-life balance that fits in with our own needs and goals, and should feel confident and justified in saying "no” when we need to.
You are worthy of your own time and energy
In a plane crash, I have always wondered why you are advised to put on your own oxygen mask first, but of course it makes complete sense - how can we help others if we are dead first? This applies to life in general. As soon as we’re looking after ourselves, we can look after others. It really is true, that people will love you when you love yourself, and by ‘love’ what I really mean is respect.
Schedule in ‘me time’
Rest is good. You know the corpse pose at the end of yoga? Sometimes we just need savasana in our daily lives. Whether this is a Sunday morning in bed, a walk out in nature, a complete retreat, or simply time out to enjoy a cup of tea with no other distractions. Find that time to rest your spiritual and physical self, even if just for 5 minutes a day.
Don’t make life more difficult than it is
There is an overarching feeling that the harder the work the better the payoff. If it’s ‘too easy’, then it can’t be real. Ridiculous! What if we believed that life wanted us to be happy? Life wants us to have everything our hearts dream of and more. If you are pushing something, you are not necessarily making yourself happy. And if you’re not making yourself happy, then ask yourself, are you doing it because you must or because you want to?
Make conscious choices
Whatever you are doing, at any given moment, consider for a moment that you are using time. If it is something that adds value to your life, then it will be time well spent. But if not, then ask yourself what could you be doing instead? Spend your time surrounding yourself with work, activities, people and social situations that actually bring you joy and add value to your world.
It’s okay to ask for help
We all need help in different areas of our lives and yet we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do things alone. However, when you give yourself permission to actually admit that you need some help and reach out for it, you will find other people will become your allies. It might need some practice, but learn who to ask and how to time it. Also learn how to not take responses personally when you get a no. Outsourcing aspects of life isn’t always possible for everyone, but it is worth thinking about rather than immediately refusing to accept you might need some help every now and again.
Clear your mind & prioritise your tasks
Try not to get so stuck in the details that you’re unable to pull yourself out long enough to see the bigger picture. Once you can, you can prioritise and make clear decisions. For example, plan your day carefully and instead of listing everything you need to do, feeling like you have to do it all today, just set a handful of priorities. Perhaps using mind-maps so stay focused will help you so that little time is wasted. No matter where you are, if you are feeling too busy and are struggling to get through tasks, try these steps to clear up space in your mind and your calendar: Simplify, Eliminate, Align.
I came across this link and am currently using Trello which I’m finding very simple and useful, but I would recommend finding the one that works best for you.
Mindfulness has deeply changed my relationship to daily life, in such a way that I now feel more in tune with myself, with others, and with what is happening around us. It has the power to create space between ourselves and our reactions, harnessing the art of pausing and paying attention to right now. It is evident that when we slow down and press pause, we create stillness and sufficient space in which to think, breathe, and then respond. The problem is when we become so busy that it seems counterintuitive to stop. We’ve all been there when we’ve simply got too much to do and we believe we simply don’t have the time to press pause. However, as many meditation and mindfulness experts will tell you, pausing gives us TIME to respond sensibly, think clearly, gain perspective and regain control.
What are my best strategies to help practice mindfulness?
Every time your phone rings or every time you get a notification, focus on your breath before reaching for the phone. Decide in that moment whether you want to respond to this interruption now or later.
Distract yourself from your internal critic and from your concerns. For example, divert your energy by naming foods that start with A, B, C and so on, or by counting backward from 100 in sevens.
Trigger mindful moments by setting regular alarms that will remind you to pause. Notice your response as you hear these alarms. Do you feel joyful? Soothed? Annoyed? It’s important to realise that none of these responses require judgment – as you’re simply feeling emotion based on what you’re doing when the alarm goes off. Once you have registered this, close your eyes, and take a big deep breath in and a slow breath out. Sense your feet connected to the floor and notice what is happening in both your mind and your body. Take two more slow breaths and then continue calmly with your day.
FOCUS, PAY ATTENTION & CONNECT:
Paying attention to our motivations helps us understand what really matters to us, which is incredibly important for helping us stay motivated in each moment. It’s vital that we are cherishing whatever we are pursuing, while truly savouring our achievements once we reach them.
We can also practice paying attention to our thoughts with greater awareness and without judgement, which enables us to better manage our thoughts, rather than becoming a victim of them.
Paying attention to our actions will improve our concentration and help us to perform better, while enabling us to enjoy things more at the same time. It offers a win-win situation, because we are able to relish what we are doing far more when we focus our attention on it.
FOCUS ON YOUR BREATH
Think that you are breathing well? But, are you really thinking about it? Focusing on your breathing may sound frivolous but it honestly works wonders for practising mindfulness. When we learn to breathe more efficiently, we can prevent ourselves from expending energy on emotional black holes. In my opinion, mastering breathing well is energy-enhancing rather than energy-draining. Indeed, certain breathing techniques actually trick the body into a state of relaxation, which is a perfect tool for those uber-stressful days.
One of my favourite breathing techniques is Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR); a simple and quick practice that you can do anywhere which will release tension from head-to-toe. Simply focus on tensing and relaxing each muscle group for two to three seconds each. Start with the feet and toes, then move up to the knees, thighs, glutes, chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw, and eyes - all while maintaining deep slow breaths. Tense every single muscle in your body and then release all of your muscle groups in one big rush of breath, leaving your body to feel more relaxed afterwards.
Listen to mother nature
From a young age, my parents taught me the importance of respecting, appreciating and honouring nature, and yet I also took it for granted while growing up. Now, however, I understand why my parents encouraged this. We get so bogged down into our fast modern lifestyles, never slowing down and addicted to various social media platforms, that we are now, more than ever before, glued to our technology devices. Even today, my parents remind me that nature is always there talking to you, if you’re willing to listen - not just from our ears and our eyes, but spiritually, from heart and soul. So, let’s start reconnecting with mother nature and start to feel rejuvenated once again. Simply enjoying time in your garden, nearby parks, or canals, go for that walk or for that hike or explore walks around you. Even if you live in London, there are still breathtaking walks to be found.
The Birth of Self-Love Sunday
I was lucky enough to meet the wonderful Talya Stone, Founder of Motherhood The Real Deal. We instantly clicked. Both of us had been through periods in our lives of being seriously overwhelmed, and we both had a passion to give women the opportunity to fall in love with taking care of themselves. Through resetting their stress, addressing the busyness of today’s modern life, finding ways to reenergize and escape, Self-Love Sunday was born.
I am so excited to announce that our Self-Love Sunday will be returning with an Autumn Edition in London on Sunday 13th October.
What to expect? A half-day urban retreat for women to escape the stress and busyness of life, with an opportunity to actually spend time on yourself, reconnect and replenish. Here, guests can come along and spend a glorious afternoon spending time on themselves. You can experience two guided meditations and choose from seven unique workshops all designed to inspire you to fall in love with taking care of yourself this Autumn and beyond, including my own workshop on self-care tips for busy people.
So often we convince ourselves it is normal to feel overwhelmed, it is something we have to simply put up with and deal with another time. However, as I hope I have explained, self-love is simply too important to ignore.
These are just some tips on how you can navigate feelings of being overwhelmed, however everyone has their own life stresses and all of us are on a different journey. With this in mind, if you would prefer to have a one-to-one self-love coaching session, in which we can explore techniques and practices that are tailored to you, then please do get in touch.
If you would like to discuss consultation options further simply schedule a 30 minute complimentary free call with me in the form below and we can assess if coaching is good fit for you.