I like to think about wellness and stress on a 10-point scale.
- 8-10 is busy, stressed, and little margin
- 5-7 is busy but taking time for getting centered, balanced and a greater sense of peace and calm
- 2-4 is built in margin and bandwidth, balanced time for work and self
- -1, 0 and 1 might be on the low side of sleepy, unmotivated, depressed, lethargic (ditch on the other side of the road)
People tend to live at the top of the stress scale and wait for a “break” to recharge, refresh, and rejuvenate
Many people tend to live at the top of the stress scale and wait for a “break” to recharge, refresh, and rejuvenate. That break might be on the weekend, or it might have to wait for a slow season for things to have some extra margin for selfcare. The challenge is when we live at the top of the scale (8-10), it doesn’t take much to go over the top and activate STRESS. When we go over 10, we might experience irritation, impatience, anxiety, a short temper, forgetfulness, physical-mental-emotional exhaustion and more. Living at the top of the scale, or over it, is not sustainable and leads to burnout.
In the era we are living, Industry 4.0, the changes in innovation, technology and life are moving so quickly, we are prone to exhaustion just from the speed of things in the world around us, much less the pressures we put on ourselves from work, family, volunteering, health, etc. While mindfulness and self-care have been talked about for years, these practices need to become an essential part of our daily lives rather than waiting for that break a few times a month or quarter (which sometimes never comes). As stress levels increase, these routines also need to increase. In a similar way you would detox your body if you were exposed to more toxins, so we need more counterbalancing rejuvenation as the pressures of life increase.
Daily self-care and rejuvenation
When you allow margin for daily self-care and rejuvenation you can help reduce your “level” down to a 5-7. Once you get good at that level, you can work to be a 2-4 level. Living at these lower levels gives you margin when the unexpected happens, something takes more time, or new tasks cut in line. Weaving daily mental, physical and emotional renewal regularly into our days is a “new norm” for the world we live in. How might this happen? Perhaps start your day with some quite time and mindfulness or a fitness and workout routine. At midday, take ten minutes to journal or listen to music or go for a walk. Before you end your day, read a book, take a bath, do yoga, stretch, notice your mood and emotions, etc. Sometimes we think of these things as woo-woo and fluffy, but there is a good amount of neuroscience that supports these activities to keep our brain in a positive healthy, functioning state versus keeping our brains in a fight-freeze-flight state. When we live at 8-10, it is easy to get triggered and without realizing it, shift over 10, into 11+ just navigating daily life.
Do an internal check and honestly ask yourself – what is the average number you are living at? What does it feel like today? What would you need to do to reduce that number (find calmer and solace)? What are the daily habits that keep you centered now? If you added something that would support greater balance, what would that be and how could you add that into your routine.
Today we are busy and if feels like we don’t have time for things like this, but really, we don’t have time to NOT do things like this. If you keep living at a 10 or 11+ your body will eventually make you stop because overload, sickness or other mental/emotional conditions hijack your ability to keep living at such a high level of stress. Create time now. Explore the different things that help you find your calm and balance each day. Be mentally healthy so you can continue to do the important work you are doing!