I understand hectic schedules, looming deadlines, and stressed-to-the-brink emotions. As a busy speaker, coach, and author who has the privilege of influencing people in leadership positions as well as those on the front-lines, I too often work very long days. I recently put a strategy together for re-establishing the balance I used to be more intentional about.
In the meantime, until I can get some very important project-based loose ends tied up (I have two book releases coming at the end of April and first of May respectively, plus I’m finishing the proposal for my seventh book), I can only do my best. But, I’m better than I used to be. You learn some pretty slick lessons when you’ve lived as much life as I have.
No matter how tired, stressed, or overwhelmed I might feel, there are five ways I’ve learned to keep my head above water when I’m dog-paddling through life. These intentional practices will help you get through anything. So stop for just a minute and truly evaluate your situation by considering these five crucial questions.
5. What are you saying yes to that you should delay or drop entirely? I believe every day we should choose to say “yes” to at least one healthy thing (today, I took a morning breather with someone I love so we could both get a much needed mental and emotional break). But equally, we should be willing to tell someone “no” when a request would actually detract from rather than enhance a good greater than ourselves.
4. Who is eating up your time with drama, frivolous requests, or unhealthy neediness? If someone is keeping you from concentrating/working on something that you need to finish, or you find yourself sacrificing much-needed time with loved ones because of another person’s constant emotional blackmail, you need to step up and protect yourself. Remember, as long as you allow it to happen, it will continue.
3. How are you valuing yourself? Are you giving away time and energy to do for others when they should be doing more for themselves? When you are a helper/giver/fixer by nature, it’s easy to fall into the trap of offering assists, while your own commitments and relationships lack attention. Don’t get me wrong, we should support each other, but in a balanced way.
2. When are you taking care of the basics? The temptation to stay up too late, grab junk food on the run, guzzle energy drinks or coffee instead of water, work for hours without a mental break, and ignore friends and loved ones runs high when we feel frazzled. But if you want to keep your head above water, this is exactly when you should take care of your body and mind’s fundamental needs.
1. Where are you giving back? It costs little in time or money to give someone a smile, a kind word, or an expression of appreciation. We get what we give, so when we acknowledge another human being in a positive way, we often receive a boost of our own. There’s nothing more energizing than a moment of shared encouragement.
Not one of us was promised a life of ease, but when we feel like we’re being pulled under, a closer look at our daily habits can provide the kick that propels us above the waves. There’s nothing wrong with dog-paddling for a little while, as long as you move in the right direction.
Paddling with You, Anita
How do you keep your head above water when you’re stressed?