On a cold weekday morning, my 9 AM session client walks in and says: “Wow, I just saw you in the street, rushing here, and you looked worse than me!” We had a good laugh, it was funny indeed how she, a person struggling with anxiety and frustration, noted that her therapist also looks grumpy early morning on her way to work. She caught me.
”We are worth each other” I said, admitting that I did feel stressed and grumpy that morning. Such opening of the session led us to explore how often and how easily we wear grumpy faces, feel anxious or stress out during the day, for no particular reason at all. Sometimes the tension comes from having too many tasks to complete in the day, sometimes from running a little late, sometimes from constant multitasking and trying to remember what comes next. The busy hustle of our lives seldom leaves us space to find peace and relaxation during the day.
We often crave a break, holidays, weekends. We say to each other frequently “I’m dying for a holiday”, “I need a break”, “Can’t wait for Christmas”, etc.
This constant living in stress and tension adds to our feeling of tiredness and can result in poor sleep, poor concentration and general sense of exhaustion. Before you know it, even weekends and breaks from work stop becoming restful because being stressed and tired becomes so ingrained in our everyday life.
How Can We Make Our Busy Routine Less Stressful?
I noticed that whenever I am ready to meet a client, I easily switch on my calm, attuned and contented self. As soon as I walk into the counselling room I leave my multitasking busy mind at the door. I may have just finished an urgent phone call, or have had a lot of “to do” tasks on my mind, but as soon as I get to my appointment , I put that behind and focus on the client. If I can switch like that at work, I thought, I can do that at any other time of the day and benefit from that. So I tried to switch off the stressed out mode and consciously switch on the calm mode. Here are some small tips if you’d also like to try and switch from feeling stressed, to feeling rested during the day:
1. Slow Down Your Pace.
Unless you are running terribly late, there is really little need to walk fast. Some people like brisk walking and that’s great if you find fast pace enjoyable, but if you are enjoying a brisk walk, it is all the more should not be tense, hurried and “tunnel visioned”. As you walk, notice your pace consciously and ask yourself if you’re just in a habit of running somewhere, shoulders hunched forward, ankle muscles tense, eyes downcast. Perhaps once you remind yourself that there is no need to rush and you can actually enjoy your walk, you may slow down your pace. Even if you still walk briskly, relaxing in that walk will allow you more space of mind, and you will be able to notice the weather, inhale fresh air, look around you and actually enjoy the walk while running errands.
2. Relax Your Posture And Your Face.
When we are busy and stressed it is not uncommon to carry tension in the body throughout the day. Scan your body and wonder whether you carry tension somewhere. I usually tend to frown and tense my forehead, hence the busier I am during the day, the grumpier I may look. For many people shoulders, neck and jaw are common areas where tension is held. When you notice that area for you, take a deep breath and relax it, consciously. When you are seated, lean back and allow the chair to hold your weight. Sometimes even as simple movement as uncrossing your legs while seated or having a little stretch in the middle of the day can slow down our breath and bring a sense of peace.
3. Find Peace In Here And Now.
People often allow themselves to be overworked, even burned out just before holidays. We tend to get as busy as we can, while expecting our rest to come soon. It doesn’t have to be either work or holidays, and it doesn’t have to be either stressful or quiet. Find rest and calm in each day by consciously committing to finding calmness daily.
Regardless of what you are doing in the moment and no matter how many more tasks are awaiting for you later on, tell yourself that it is manageable. Do not stress over future meetings, a long routine, or many more work months before you go on leave. Your mind can consciously believe that it is good enough here and now. Feel grateful and energetic to be here, while busy and moving. Anticipate not further than tonight’s bath or yummy lunch break. Take that break right now, if that is what your body and mind are craving for.
And most of all, always mindfully monitor what it is like for you here and now, so that you can always watch out for yourself and make sure you enjoy every minute of your life.