Well, things just got a whole lot more REAL, didn't they? Many of us are gearing up to start 2014 off with a BANG - setting lofty goals, laying out the play-by-play, dreaming, scheming, visioning up a storm - while wrapping up the rest of the year - crossing off our to-do lists, making holiday plans, you name it, our schedules are full to the brim.
Often, when our mind is set to go, go, go, tension and overwhelm have a way of creeping into our life. Suddenly, everything seems so much more pressing and urgent! I must do all the things and they must be perfect! That's a whole lotta pressure, non?
I'm extending the invitation over to you, to really listen to what you need when you're being overstimulated and feeling like you must obliterate that hefty to-do list right.this.second. Scale it back, try one (or all) of these quick and easy tips to combat stress + overwhelm and invite in more feel-good energy + unadulterated joy:
1. Shake It Out
Give this exercise a go, which is a personal favourite at the mo'. Stand on the spot and begin by swaying your arms, start off slow, and then ramp it up - bend at the elbows, and shake your arms back and forth. Then, give your legs a shake, start with your right left, then your left. Bend your knees. Break out into a full can-can. Now, really get into it. Jump up and down. Dance on the spot. This isn't about looking good - actually, the more silly you look, the better. Wiggle your entire body like it's nobody's business. Guaranteed to not only make you laugh, but also shake up that stagnant energy in your body. BOOM!
2. Be Still
When we're feeling stressed, or trying to hammer through 53253295 tasks on our plate, without knowing it, our breath becomes extremely shallow. Simply close your eyes and feel your breath. Breath through your nose imagining your lungs are a bag, fill up the bottom (your belly) gradually working to the top (your chest), expanding your collar bones. Exhale slowly, starting from the top and working down, pressing the last bit of air out of the lungs. Allow each breath to become bigger, longer, more expansive. While you do this, imagine your heart rate slowing down, and everything moving more slowly around you. Really sink into that feeling. Chances are after even just a few deep breaths, you'll feel a huge weight lift from your shoulders. (Check out this infographic for some more tips on taking this exercise further.)
Whether you're typing away behind a computer, sorting through paper work, driving on the open road, or enthralled in a good read, we tend to hunch over while we're doing it. All that tensions gathers up in your shoulders and settles into your entire body. Begin by rolling your shoulders and settling into a more relaxed position. If you're keen, give some of these poses a try. Tension... released. (Seriously, works wonders.)
4. Let It Out
Got a case of overwhelm? Feeling nervous? Angry? Frustrated? Have a boxing sesh with your pillow, let out a good cry, allow yourself a 5-second outburst in the shower, or simply say what's on your mind. "I'm feeling anxious... I'm feeling anxious... I'm feeling anxious!" Gradually getting louder and louder. Give yourself permission to release that built-up negative energy, don't dive into the story of why you feel the way you do, just know that it's energy that needs to be released. (Try it, really.)
5. Move Your Body
Hit up a yoga class, try pilates, sweat it out rock climbing, or just go for a walk around the street. I don't need to tell you how amazing it feels after you get your body moving, and experience that oh-so-good endorphin rush. I will tell you that I've never stepped into a class, despite feeling no motivation to be there, where I didn't leave feeling totally refreshed and rejuvenated. Exercise is the best energy boost around, get on it!
Get in touch with your inner child, let loose! Stop worrying about how many emails you need to respond to, what work needs to get done, how many likes you have on Instagram, or how many comments you've received on your latest blog post... be present, be engaged, be silly! Grab a friend and race them to the end of the street, hit up your local jungle gym, see who can swing the highest, dominate the monkey bars the fastest, or build a fort. You don't need a reason to invoke some silliness into your day, just do it!
7. Switch Off
We're connected 24/7 - whether it's your computer/ phone/ tablet/ TV, we're "plugged in" and always available. Take a few hours, a day, a weekend, whatever you need, and switch off. A little digital hiatus goes a long way.
8. Be Passionate
As Marie Forleo says, "Proactively bring passion to everything you touch, to everything you do. No matter what task is in front of you, bring as much enthusiasm and energy to it as you possibly can. Bring your full attention, your full presence, the Godlike quality that each of us has within, to every task in your day." That means whether you're making your bed, brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, or even taking out the trash, instead of telling yourself how badly you don't want to do it, how much it sucks, and how you wish somebody else would do it instead, approach it with positivity. Bring passion into everything you do, and more passion will show up in your life.
9. Express Gratitude
We all know the benefits of being grateful for what we have, right now. Not tomorrow, not a year from now, right thissecond, seeing the beauty of what you already have. Try this: The next time you write out your gratitude list, finish each item off with "because..." Heart expanded. Joy injected.
10. Spread The Love
Get out of your head by compassionately connecting with people around you. Dish out luxurious compliments, offer up your time, lend a hand, volunteer, make someone's day/ week/ year! You never know what somebody else is going through, and how much your words and actions can heal. When we take a time out for some selfless service, we tend to feel happier, fuller, and deeply satisfied.
A QUICK Q BEFORE YOU GO: What do you do when you're feeling run-down, overwhelmed, and "less than"? Any go-to pick-me-ups that you're a fan of? Drop it like it's hot in the comments, I'd love to hear! x