This is the time of year when everyone seems to be rushing around, completing tasks, shopping, cleaning, working, partying and it’s all just busy, busy, busy. Does the Christmas stress ever stop?
The thing about women is that we are incredibly good multi taskers. We seem to have developed the knack of being able juggle a myriad of balls in the air. The problem is that once those balls are in the air, what will happen when you drop them?
I believe this is the fear that stops people from just taking the time out they so desperately need.
Multi tasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can overstimulate your brain and cause mental fog or scrambled thinking – so you’re not going mad after all.
Yes, but no but…
When I mention slowing down to some of my friends, clients and yoga students, they all nod enthusiastically and then somehow they get home and get straight back on the rollercoaster.
Why is this? When I ask them, I get so many answers – because women are so good at justifying themselves.
“Well, I couldn’t leave my daughter standing at the school gate, could I?” “Who is going to do the ironing if I don’t?” “The Christmas shopping isn’t going to do itself!”
We can be wonderful martyrs to our cause when we want to.
But the truth is, there is a part of us that likes to be busy. As if it gives us some kind of worth. And who will we be if we just sit down and rest? There’s often a little voice then whispering to us about all the things we’re neglecting.
Living life in the fast lane
But rushing through life as though we are in a race is not good for our health. It has a detrimental effect on our nervous system. Extreme and prolonged stress, lack of sufficient sleep and working long hours all take it out on the body.
So just stop for a moment . Ask yourself what gear you are currently driving your life in? If you are in gears 1-3, chances are you are managing your life well. But from 4-6, maybe it’s time to get off the motorway and start driving along slowly as if you have all the time in the world.
Adjusting to winter
In Chinese Medicine Theory, it is said that we should live in harmony with nature. And at this time of year, it’s all about slowing down and going inwards.
In nature, everything is quiet and still, waiting for the rebirth in spring. It’s a good time to reflect on what is really important to our lives and us. It’s a time to retreat into ourselves, much like the plants and animals when they go into hibernation.
But as American journalist Sidney J Harris said “The time to relax is when you don’t have the time for it.” The way we live our lives nowadays doesn’t allow us to simply stop, so it’s important that we adjust our routines to adapt. This helps us to stay in tune with the rhythm of our body rather than go against it and ending up tired out.
So what can I do about it?
The first thing is to stop, take a breath, relax your shoulders and smile. You’ll feel a burden start to lift already.
Then I recommend you:
- Make space in your life for you, so you don’t get swallowed up in tasks and ‘doing’ constantly.
- Take responsibility for yourself first, so you’re not running on empty. This could mean putting some time in your diary for a long, luxurious candlelit bath, or booking a spa day or massage. Heaven.
- Think baby steps. Slot in small periods of time during the day just to sit still.
- Learn to prioritise and focus on what really matters.
- Ask for help and support. This means delegating sometimes. Be strong willed with reluctant children, teenagers, and partners – every little helps.
- Let go of the small things. This is challenging if you are a control freak or a perfectionist but give it a try – it works wonders.
- Make time for your friends.
- Be a role model for others that you don’t have to do it all. It gives them permission to let go, too.
- Have regular tea breaks and lunch breaks. Our bodies need to be warm, so eating nourishing, wholesome cooked food and soothing drinks will help.
- Go to bed early or find time for a nap during the day.
- Try meditation or mindfulness.
- Listen to relaxing music.
- Laugh at yourself when you find yourself getting uptight and overwrought. Ask yourself “Does it really matter?” It probably doesn’t.
And before you write all of this off as being impossible to achieve, it really isn’t. You don’t have to make huge step changes, but a little at a time will go a long way. Once you’ve realised the positive changes simply sitting with a cuppa can make, you’ll soon be looking at what else you can do.
Recharged and revitalised, you’ll be raring to go again!
Find out more…