If you feel like you’re juggling too many balls right now, you’re not alone. I have talked to so many people in the last few days who seem to have a ridiculous amount of stuff happening! It’s not just the end-of-year, work, school, Christmas organising and holiday planning, although that would be enough. It’s the other big life stuff that gets thrown on top too- the parents having operations, the volunteer roles, the hot water cylinder needs replacing, the job changes – and that’s just a select short list from my own household! I’m sure many of you can commiserate.
And so, this is a more personal blog than usual; I’m writing it for all of you but also as a reminder to myself. How to stay chill, keep calm, keep a sense of humour and perspective. We have so many fabulous tools, we just need get our heads above water long enough to remember that we can swim. And not only swim, but enjoy the feeling of the water. If you are too tired to swim, you can just float, watch the clouds.
I’m feeling a little better already, which brings me to my first point:
1. Write It Out, Get It Out, Share It
There is nothing so toxic for anxiety and stress as letting it whirl around and around in the cage of our own heads. If you’re a writer, write a list. Then write a page on how it feels to be overwhelmed. I can vouch for it. Not everyone likes writing, but instead you can say it out loud, tell it to a friend, a pet, a plant, a cushion. If this is more long term for you, tell it to a good counselor or therapist. Bringing the murky darkness of our own stresses and fears into the light of day often takes their power away. You can see them more clearly when they’re in front of you, instead of in the space inside your head and body.
2. Get Your Ducks Lined Up: Eat, Sleep, Breathe
The basics of living and of keeping equilibrium are of extra importance when you’re feeling the pressure. Keep your foundations strong with regularity and rhythm:
- Eating regularly, good nourishing food, not overindulging in excesses (coffee, sugar, alcohol).
- Breathe deeply and with awareness. Paying attention to our breath can keep us feeling more calm and connected instead of feeling frazzled and fragmented. Breathe in for 5, out for 10- a longer out breath calms our nervous system. Whenever you can stop to think of it, do.
- Sleep is golden. Early nights and extra support as required! (Click here for more info). Prioritising sleep makes you more productive and capable the next day, not to mention that you will have more energy to face the tasks at hand, and more compassion for those around you (and yourself).
3. Taking Time
When there isn’t enough time, when you feel like there is just too much to pack into each day each hour each minute, then what you need to do is create more time. Simple! Since we can’t actually do this, we can trick ourselves into thinking there is more time by taking time. Where from? I hear you ask. Here is the recipe as I see it:
Take 5 minutes. Just five.
Sit down with…a cup of tea…a crayon…a plant…just yourself…your lunch…whatever you do or don’t have.
Yep we’re talking mindfulness here.
Five minutes of experiencing whatever it is you’re doing- get sensual- what is happening in your body, inside your mouth, on the soles of your feet? What can you hear? What can you taste?
Mindfulness, or being present, can help time open up and stretch out in rather amazing ways. So much can happen inside a minute. And when 5 of them are over, you may just find you feel far calmer and more able to do whatever it is that comes next.
4. Herbal Heroes
Herbal medicine is a phenomenal force. Plants have been around far longer than humans have, and are complex powerhouses chock full of fabulous constituents that interact with our cells and bodies in some incredible ways. The number of herbs that can support our nervous system to feel calmer during periods of stress is too large to name. The list of herbs which can help us adapt to stress and perform more gracefully and joyfully under pressure is as long as my arm, at least. Finding your herbal allies in this world can really change your life. Herbal medicine works when you find the right plant/s for you, in the right form (liquids, pills, teas?), grown the right way (lovingly), and you take the right dose (ie. enough!). If you need help with this, find a Registered Medical Herbalist or someone who is wise in these matters.
Here’s my short-list for stress support:
- Withania: calms adrenal stress hormones, balances cortisol, improves performance under pressure, nurtures and calms.
- Kava: Instant relaxation, feel it melt your tension, awesome for anxiety.
- Skullcap: Calm down that nervous system, quieten that crazy mind.
- Passionflower: Easing anxiety and apprehension.
- Chamomile: This tiny daisy is a potent relaxant for all ages.
- Lemon Balm: Like chamomile, this is a calming herb that calms the nerves and the tummy. And it’s a beautiful vibrant green- best picked fresh in my opinion.
As I mentioned, that’s a very short short-list! But 6 is my magic number today so I’m rolling with 6 (my daughter is 4 and always tries to roll 6’s, no matter what the game).
5. Magical Minerals, Vitality Vitamins and Extra Special Supplements
Zinc: If your stress tolerance is especially low, you could need some zinc! Read more here
B Vitamins: B’s help not only with energy production, but with our ability to cope with stress. Often after taking B’s for awhile you will notice you simply can tolerate more, and don’t get so affected by stuff.
L-Theanine: This is a little amino acid derived from green tea. It helps promote GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that makes us feel calmer. Theanine works for most people within 20-30 minutes and can be powerful and instant in its ability to diffuse anxiety and tension. Bam. A nice little helper to keep in your pocket.
6. Bend and Stretch, Reach for the Stars
That’s a line from a children’s record I used to listen to when I was 5. The next bit goes “here comes Ju-pi-ter, there goes Mars”. What I like about those two lines are the reminder that movement and exercise helps connect us to something bigger and more universal. Whether you like to run, walk, swim or skip, movement is essential to helping us feel alive. If you’re feeling too pressured to go for an hour’s walk, just get up from where you are right now and “bend and stretch, reach for the sky, stand on tippy-toes oh so high!”. Being in our bodies gets us out of being in our heads too much, and is essential for finding balance in the busyness.
So my friends, I hope this has been useful for you! Maybe there is just one little tip here that might speak to you. One slice of light to help lift the heavy weight of it all. May you shrug it off like a winter coat and dance in your undies, whatever the weather. I’m off to pick some lemon balm from my garden, soak in the green rain-soaked abundance out there, and then come back in to make it into a cuppa- the best medicine is often close at hand.
PS: Hilariously, when I was proof-reading this I thought I had missed a whole TIP and only had 5 tips in my 6 top tips list. Which reminds me that when you have a long or daunting list of things to do, take one thing OFF the list! When you are juggling too many balls, just put one down. A little sweet relief.