Stress and overwhelm seem to be part of many people’s lives these days. The rapid arrival of technology has created additional stress and much more activity in our lives. The increasing speed of life, the media and business; our world has dramatically changed pace. Burnout and stress are becoming epidemic and it is time to take action; but in a gentle way!

We often run at full speed, ticking off that ‘To Do List’ and pushing ourselves to fit it all in, rarely taking time out to stop and relax.  But, it is actually so important to take time for yourself and learn to slow down, so you can find the balance; peace; and tranquillity; required to change your mindset and in turn, to prevent your own burnout. When you can become more gentle with yourself, it can help you achieve more than you realise.

Here are Cara’s Top Six Tips

1. Stop Pushing By Slowing Down

Take time out every day; go for a walk; breathe deeply; meditate; listen to music; and read. Small breaks make a big difference. Time for yourself; it is so important. For most people, it is rare time because with children, work and life in general, we easily become very busy. We put ourselves last on the list. However, I cannot stress the importance of taking some planned time out to be gentle and quiet, to have some space for you, every day.  Practise deep breathing during the day, as well. It releases stress and provides many health benefits, such as feeling more focused and relaxed.

The many benefits of deep breathing include:

  • reduction in stress and blood pressure;
  • strengthens the abdominal and intestinal muscles;
  • reduces general body aches and pains;
  • promotes better blood flow;
  • releases toxins from the body and
  • aids in achieving healthy sleep.

These benefits result in an increased energy level. It is important to breathe deeply and often. Once you get into the swing of it, it feels great!

2. Prioritize

Write down a list of things in your life that are important to you, right now. Remember to write down what is important, not what is urgent. Keep this list close and look at it every day to remind yourself what is important in your life. Whether that is: your family; friends; health; or anything else. Keep it in mind when things get crazy busy.

3. Learn How To Say No And Not Feel Guilty About It

You know that feeling when you don’t really want to help other people out, but because you would rather not feel guilty you say ‘yes’. Think about this highly relevant and inspirational quote from much loved novelist, writer and lyricist, Paolo Coelho. ‘Saying yes to someone else is saying no to yourself’.   Now, I am not saying don’t help other people, but I am saying take care of your own needs first. Whatever they may be.  You can learn to say ‘no’ gracefully by thanking the person, but stating that on this occasion it doesn’t work for you. And then be helpful, by suggesting someone else who can help them or sending them a link to help them sort out their problem.

4. Take Time For Yourself Every Day

Plan in the time for yourself around the things you must do in your day. Now, you are thinking how can I do that when I have to get up at 5.30am; travel to my business meeting; run a workshop; travel back home; and be at home by 7pm to cook for my family! When, what I really feel like – at the end of that day – is a takeaway and some wine! I agree it is a tiring day, but I promise you it can feel much less tiring and stressful when you factor in time for yourself.  Read a book or meditate on your journey. Book a massage or have a relaxing bubble bath at the end of the day; whatever tickles your fancy. As long as it is something that restores you and you feel rested afterwards. A nice walk; hot bath; quiet meditation; empowering yoga; or maybe, watching an entertaining movie. But plan and make that time and really do it. Don’t pick up your telephone half way through. Be in that time and enjoy it.

5. Turn Off Your Inner Critic

Remember to calm and turn off that little voice in your head, which tells you off and berates you. The voice who says; “I should have”. Don’t tune into that voice; use positive affirmations instead. After a while your brain will start to listen to them more clearly and let the voice go. For example, when your inner critic is telling you should have answered an email in a different way; or you should have stayed at work longer because your colleague did; or your should not have shouted at your child. Turn it around and say: I answered the email in the best way at the time and it was a great response; or I needed to leave work for some ‘me time’; or when I raised my voice to my child it become clear to her that mummy teaching her something important.

6. Smile And Laugh

Smiling is contagious. Laughing is a tonic. Both are good for the soul. Do whatever makes you smile or laugh; comedy; jokes; you name them. Anything that can help you have a giggle. It really works. And it can help you not to take yourself too seriously. Smiling and laughing helps us go through life with a lighter note. Smile, laugh, or listen to a joke; maybe tell one yourself. It can alleviate your mood in difficult times. Do it yourself today. Smile at a stranger. Flirt. Laugh at a joke. Why not?

By learning to be more gentle with yourself, you can live a happier, healthier and more successful life because you are taking care of your needs first.