We all have times in our lives where the stresses seem to pile up too high to see over! There may be one big stress or many small stresses but they all affect us. I look back to a time before I practiced yoga regularly and I often wonder how I coped…and I honestly think the answer was ‘badly’!!
In the past I think I dealt with stress in ways that actually reduced my chances of feeling happier!! I may have had a glass of wine, moaned to friends, over thought the situation, made poor food choices, exercised less, thrown myself into work, ignored my intuition and feelings, over spent or over indulged in other ways. The list of toxic choices I used to make is probably longer than I care to admit nowadays! However one advantage of having felt like that…out of control of my life, overwhelmed by stress, depression or anxieties is that I understand how amazingly good it feels to not feel like that. Nowadays I have more tools to counteract stress. Most importantly i am learning to be kind to myself!
So here’s some don’t’s for when life is tough…and next week I will add the do’s!!
- Don’t retreat into an online world. It is easy to get caught up in a world of phones, tablets, laptops, TV. Obviously they are very useful but the time we are spending on them is not time spent in nature. Don’t forget to feel the breeze on your face every day. Even if you just walk around the block…get outside!
- Don’t follow somebody else’s dream or compromise your desires for someone else. Don’t define yourself on what you do for others but set boundaries so that you also know what you want. What makes you happy. Being generous and kind is amazing…but not when it is at the expense of your own happiness.
- Don’t overthink. Let your intuition guide you. Don’t turn your mind inside out with thinking over the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’
- Don’t ignore your feelings…say ‘I love you’ more often but also have the hard conversations…express any frustration or anger you may be feeling productively. We don’t know whether we will get a second chance to say sorry, express gratitude or make sense of the past so speak your truth while you have the chance.
- Don’t work too much. Work gives us purpose and the monies to live. Yet if we are overworked we don’t appreciate it, it can drain the fun from the rest of our life and negatively affect our health and relationships. Money is not as important as spending time with the people you love and doing what makes you happy. Even those of us who love what we do as a job have to be careful not to let work become how we identify ourselves.
- Don’t spend everything you earn. By not saving for a rainy day you may be adding to your stress. There are always unexpected expenses but planning for life’s struggles makes them easier to cope with. Unforeseen illness or job loss will be stressful enough already without worrying about finances.
- Don’t rely on medication to heal you…find out ways you can improve your health naturally. Modern society promotes the ‘quick fix’ with pills for headaches caused by tiredness or stress, pills for indigestion, pills for sadness. Look instead at whether you could heal by changing your lifestyle choices rather than risking more side effects from over using medication. Sometimes it is necceassary but often pills and tablets are over used to treat symptoms rather than investigate deeper and more honestly at the true cause of ill health (see below).
- Don’t neglect your health. You have an amazing beautiful body so treat it with love and respect. We are designed to move, to feel, to live. Give your body the attention and appreciation it deserves…don’t be angry for what you can’t do but be grateful for what you can do. Many of us only realize we are mortal when it starts to fall apart, then we regret and look for measures to fix the problem. It is easier and more comfortable to avoid making the mess of your body than it is to repair the damage. Eat well , sleep well, move more.
- Don’t miss your yoga class and choose a glass of wine instead!! Theres always plenty of excuses/ reasons you will find not to find time to do things that are good for you. Don’t let your excuses win!
- The same way lack of movement and nutritrious food can ruin your body, toxic relationships can destroy your mental and emotional health. They can be relationships with family, neighbours, work colleagues, romantic partners. If your life would be easier without this person or relationship in your life then maybe find a way to reduce their negative impact on you. Don’t let toxic relationships ruin your health and happiness.
So evaluate your choices every day. Take some time to be with you and notice how you feel. Notice the activities that make you smile…and do more of them. Live simply, sleep and eat well and do yoga.