2 November 2011, 13:47
There’s no sense in dancing around the issue: sometimes life is 100% batshit crazy! Maybe you’ve taken on too many projects, maybe your nutty family has come to stay, or maybe your life just feels like it is in an uproar every hour of every day. When you get to that point where all you want to do is stay in bed for a week, escape to the desert or perhaps become a nun, it’s time to act!
It’s time to improve your situation. We are always in control of our own lives, & even when it feels like someone else is calling the shots, we are able to CHOOSE how we respond to every situation. You can CHOOSE to get mad, or you can choose to let it go, & keep it flowin’! Trust!
Here are some other ways to keep balanced when the road feels rocky.
One of the reasons why we get so easily overwhelmed often stems from an inability to say no. I have actually found that a lot of women are extremely uncomfortable saying no to other people — in fact, they would rather massively inconvenience themselves than have to say no to someone else. This is crazy, & ridiculous!
I think our inability to say “no” is at the root of a lot of people’s stress. After all, if you were able to say no & feel great about it, odds are that you wouldn’t feel overwhelmed! You might even be at a point where you’re psyched about all the things on your plate… & when you’re truly excited about your projects, it doesn’t feel so overpowering!
What this essentially comes down to is an ability to be assertive. As women, & especially women of my generation, we’re encouraged to be outspoken & upfront about our opinions, but it’s not always as easy as all that. We’re often faced with conflicting messages from the media, our friends, family & lovers, who can send us the message that it’s a “woman’s place” to look good & not stir up any “trouble”. This is total rubbish, of course, but being told you’re meant to be two totally different things can be extremely confusing.
I think a lot of us, if asked, would describe ourselves as assertive, but upon closer examination of our behaviour, might discover that we engage in passive-aggressive ways more often than we thought. (P.S. If you’re not sure, you can find out exactly how assertive you are by taking this quiz!)
I write about learning to say no in Radical Self Love Bootcamp, & really the only way to get better at doing this is to make like Nike & JUST DO IT! It might feel uncomfortable at first, like a pair of underpants with really small leg-holes (!), but eventually, you’ll ease into it, & you’ll be a no-sayin’ pro!
We all have a happy place. For some people, it’s up high in the branches of a tree. Others would prefer to hang off the side of a rock, submerge themselves in the inky blue ocean or lay in the sand. For a percentage of people, it’s getting their cardio shopping up & down the high street! Whatever your happy place is, make an effort to identify it, & make it an essential (read: non-negotiable!) part of your routine.
As much as other people might try to guilt-trip you into not taking this time for yourself, stand firm & carve out that interval for yourself. It is vital to your sanity & happiness. If someone in your life doesn’t like it, tell them to go fly a kite!
My ex-boyfriend has a theory about Burning Man. He thinks that the reason everyone there feels so good, happy & loved up is because of the alkalinity of the dried-up lake bed where it all takes place. (I mean, I’m sure the vast quantities of ecstasy help too, but even those who don’t partake feel the same effects!)
Anyway, you don’t have to hoof it all the way out to Gerlach, Nevada to feel good in your body! The easiest way to do it is to eat a diet that is rich is alkaline-forming foods. Essentially, the more of those things you eat, the happier your body will be.
You can buy alkalising water filters relatively easily (here’s one on Amazon, for example!), & the simplest way to transition your body from being acidic to alkaline is just to eat more vegetables! Yummy. & don’t you feel so much sexier when you’re well-hydrated & eating lots of vegetables? I do!
I know that this one sounds obvious. Shouldn’t we all avoid the things that needlessly stress us out? Yes, of course! & don’t we all TRY to avoid stress?! Well… Kind of. But how many of us actually succeed in this arena? Yes, I’m talking to YOU, with the best friend who is all drama all the time! I’m talking to YOU, person who wakes up late every morning & almost has a heart attack getting to work on time!
If you just sat down & made a list of the things which stress you out most in daily life, I think you’d be amazed to find that almost all of them can be avoided, & if not avoided, then definitely altered to make them less bile-inducing.
Perhaps your life would run much more smoothly if you organised dinner ahead of time, or if you structured your day so that you missed rush-hour? Talk to your boss & see if you can start an hour later & stay an hour later at night — it could make all the difference in the world.
Almost everything in this world is negotiable, so don’t be afraid to start asking for what you want!
Honestly, there are few things in this world that feel as good as a really great stretch. Start with an eyebrow: lift it upwards slowly. Then stretch your mouth sideways, vertically, horizontally. Raise your hands above your head & wiggle your fingertips. Feel all the blood racing around inside you, like teeny-tiny magical elves skittering around. Arch your back. Rotate your neck. Doesn’t that feel incredible?
It probably doesn’t need to be said, but an almost foolproof way to deal with stress is to go to a yoga class. It’s hard to obsess over your problems when you’re deep in a difficult pose!
...& if stretching or yoga are too fluffy & frou-frou for you, try boxing. It’ll get your heart-rate up, & it’s a fantastic rage-reducer!
& do more of them!
Joseph Campbell once said, “Follow your bliss & the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” I believe this is one of the true secrets of life: it’s our purpose on this planet to find what makes us happy & then pursue it relentlessly! Don’t worry about the money, just do what feels good to you. Do what brings you joy. I know that this is easier said than done, but it’s something I’ve put into action in my own life over the last five years, & it has brought me massive amounts of wonder & beauty. (There are hard times too, of course. It all seems so much more worth it, though, when you’re working towards something you really love & care about.)
It’s okay, though — I know you’re overstimulated & stressed out right now, so we don’t have to get into all that. What I’d encourage you to do is simply spend more time on the things that make you happy.
This can be anything, from volunteering your time to walking around with your phone & taking snapshots of flowers. It doesn’t matter what it is. If it makes you feel good, do more of it! It will give you perspective & help lift you out of your heavy-heartedness.
It sounds elementary, but sometimes when we’re stressed out, we forget how to breathe. Obviously, we’re still getting air into our lungs, but we’re not breathing properly or in a way that is beneficial to us. Instead of shallow breaths, make ‘em deep & meaningful!
There’s a reason why people tell us to take slow, deep breaths when we’re freaked out, anxious or panicked!
Deep breathing is something that we usually only focus on during yoga or in Lamaze class... But it has real, practical application! When we breathe slowly, deeply & deliberately, we’re actually putting our bodies into a powerfully relaxed state. Our heartbeat slows down & brain slips into serenity.
Maybe you’ve never really experienced the delicious feelings that come with tremendous respiration. If so, I invite you to take a moment, & breathe deeply, right down into your belly. Exhale slowly. Relax. Repeat!
I discovered EFT in 2006. It was really a miracle for me, & it transformed my life. I wrote about it in 2007, & I included a section on it on Radical Self Love Bootcamp, too. (The girls in the forum are loving it & getting great results!)
The easiest way I can explain it is that it’s acupuncture without any needles, & it works by unblocking energy in the major meridian points in the body. I feel like you can use it for pretty much any problem or issue you’re having; in fact, there was even a movie made about EFT called Try It On Everything! (Watch that trailer!)
Here are some great resources if you want to give it a shot!
A lack of sleep can be a killer — literally! Did you know that if you’re not getting enough hours while you’re tucked into bed, you’re at an increased risk of diabetes? That’s not all, either. Your immune system weakens & becomes less able to fight off colds or sickness, you’ll experience more headaches & body pains, & you’ll have episodes of memory loss. It gets even uglier than that.
I know it can be tempting to stay up late fiddling around on the internet, or exchanging midnight texts with the object of your affections, or practicing your rendition of Beyonce’s Single Ladies dance in front of the mirror, but hey: don’t go there! Set an alarm on your phone at 10pm to remind you to start getting ready for bed, & try to have your eyes closed by 10.30. I know this is a big ask, but I promise you it’s worth it.
Oh! How good it feels to get a full night’s rest! It makes me yawn just writing it down! Let’s all get an early night tonight!
In a way, I think I’ve been really lucky because it has always felt very natural for me to write things down. I have been an obsessive journaller & documenter ever since I got my first diary, when I was about 7. Journalling my life has been really helpful for me, & not just because my memory is lacklustre at the best of times! Writing about my world is one of the very best ways I know of indulging in a bit of self-therapy.
There’s just something about the process of sitting with your thoughts & gathering them into logical sentences which switches your brain into this very deep, almost meditative state. It forces you to think seriously, but at the same time enables you to zoom out & see the bigger picture. I have had many of my greatest realisations (& revelations) sitting somewhere with a pen in my hand.
You don’t have to be brilliantly eloquent or even consider yourself a “writer” for this activity to benefit you. Sometimes just writing your problems down can really help you gain perspective. Definitely give it a try!
Try therapy. Try a group retreat. Take a meditation course. Block out an entire month & declare that you will take no meetings or attend any boring, supposedly-obligatory social engagements. Go swimming every morning. Start running in the evenings. Try Alexander technique or Feldenkrais method. Change what you eat. Commit to getting a massage as often as you can. Hire an intern. Learn to delegate.
Your future is your own. An excellent question to ask yourself is: If you continue on this path, how will your life look this time next year? It’s time to act!
“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” (Joseph Campbell)