Today I wanted to bring something a little more personal to the table.
I know a lot of people ask me about my tips and tricks for not getting stressed and being able to take things in your stride, so this post is going to focus on one thing I’ve been doing in my own life which has seriously helped me, and can help you too!
I’m going to start off by talking a little bit about where you’re probably at right now in your journey.
Maybe you are one of those people who naturally handles situations and events one step at a time (one of the lucky ones!). You have a carefree, “it’ll be fine” attitude, and it usually is! Or maybe you get completely overwhelmed and anxious when things become overwhelming – which makes sense, when you think about it!
Or maybe you fall somewhere in the middle, you can handle things up to a certain point, but then it all becomes too much and you feel drained and in need of a blanket and a Netflix session to cheer you up. This is probably where the majority of us are on the spectrum.
Regardless of how you are at dealing with stress, it’s always good to have a go-to stress reliever! Before I go into my journey and how incredibly useful and effective this app is, I just want to mention that Headspace don’t fund me in any way to write about them or share my thoughts on their service. I just love the program and have been recommending it to anyone who will listen, really!
So, let’s do a quick rewind, shall we? When I was studying psychology and later psychotherapy in college, I became really interested in the idea of relaxation, and why it’s so hard for us to relax.
I went along the traditional route of mindfulness and meditation, and even picked up a certificate along the way in the therapeutic use of mindfulness in clinical populations (sounds fancy, right?). I know, I know, I said I’m not into certificate gathering, but I really believed it would be useful down the line.
So, I went along to the course, really gave it my all with an open mind, and ended up coming out of there feeling more stressed than when I went in. This stuff was so far removed from my idea of relaxation, and was just not something I could see myself practising on a daily basis.
Photo Credit: Headspace (for summing up how I felt when mindfully looking at a tree).
To give you some idea, we spent approximately 45 minutes discussing our inner children and proceeded to “walk mindfully” around in circles, looking at plants. Now, if I was a different person, this might have been right up my street (and I know it is for a lot of people, which is a-okay!), but I am me. And this was not me, not even one little bit.
So, qualification in hand, I left, thinking “I will literally never use this again…”. However, I was still fascinated by the process of calming the mind, slowing down, and building up awareness of the flow of thoughts and emotions running through our brains at a million miles an hour.
I began looking into ways that I could fit this daily practice into my day, without feeling like a full-time meditator (is that even a word?), and without spending an hour analysing my falafel before eating it.
Then, boom. Some great wisdom arrived from my brother and best friend, Stephen. He was using an app called Headspace to get some relaxation time squeezed into his seriously busy day, and I figured if he was using it, it couldn’t be too bad.
So, I gave it a go.
And I swiftly became addicted to what is simply the best little app out there for mindfulness practice.
Now, just before I go into how great this has been for me, I want to make sure this is a realistic portrayal of how these things normally go with me.
I take up something, I love it for two days, and then I “simply don’t have enough time” to fit it in [insert multiple other excuses here…]. With Headspace, I really liked it from Day one, but admittedly I did find it difficult to relax for the first few days.
I kept thinking about what time to make dinner at, wondered whether I’d left a window open somewhere in the house, and pondered many other, completely unrelated topics…sound familiar?
But then, a breakthrough.
Andy, the founder of Headspace, just kept telling me it was cool to think about other things, that it was normal and that I’d get better at just letting these thoughts come and go, and well, Andy wasn’t lying.
I got better at noticing the thoughts when they floated into my mind, and could eventually just let them go, and return to my breathing.
Headspace is so simple to use, and there is so much variety, with “workouts” for stress relief, worry or anxiety, and even pain relief workouts.
Andy speaks in a way which is, for lack of a better word, “normal”…He doesn’t sound like he’s experiencing considerable breathing difficulties and can only speak in a strange, whispering voice, and he doesn’t try too hard to sound “relaxing”. He just is.
The best part is, the average workout takes just 10 minutes out of your day, and all you need is a phone and some headphones.
I realise I sound like a sales person here, but you’ll understand why when I explain what Headspace did for me.
I’ve been using the app for around three months now (There’s me looking chilled out above – I made Mícheál photograph me during one of my workouts), and can honestly say I have found such great comfort in knowing that if I’m feeling stressed (a new business and a busy life will do that to you at times!), I can just whip out my phone and chill out for 10 minutes.
I feel like this completely re-sets my brain, where I might have been planning out everything I want to do that day, and overwhelming myself with the mountain of tasks to do, I can now just take things one step at a time and know when to step back and take some time out for me.
I have also developed even more awareness of myself, what’s going on for me that day, and even what my body is feeling. I used to be extremely talented at ignoring the signs of tiredness my body was sending out, but thanks to Headspace, I’m able to check in with how I’m doing on a daily basis and adjust my day accordingly.
So, let’s say on Day #1, I take my ten minutes and still feel worn out and drained at the end, I know it’s a day where I shouldn’t push myself too hard. I won’t put huge expectations on myself to be super productive, clean my whole house and get s**t done.
Instead, I’ll maybe do some reading (which is productive in itself), answer some emails and take a long walk with the dog.
Then, the next day (Day #2) when I check back in, typically I’m much more refreshed, and I might bust out two blog posts, have five productive hours work across the course of the day, and get time to play some board games or watch a movie with my family in the evening.
If I just persisted and tried to “push through” and ignore what my brain and body were telling me on Day #1, the next day probably wouldn’t be much better, and I’d lose another day, with the added feelings of frustration, stress and worry about Day #3…
So, it’s having this awareness about yourself that is key to growth. And with Headspace, it’s super easy to commit to. It’s ten minutes out of the 1440 minutes in a day.
I know that it’s vital to create a lifestyle where I can commit to producing great content, keeping up with my two year old border collie, Jackson, and giving my all to my work, consistently. This means it’s fine to have a day like Day #1, because I can accept that I will have these days.
But, I know that Day #2 will be better if I truly allow myself the time to relax, without beating myself up about all the work I could have gotten done today.
By doing this, and through using Headspace every day, but on those Day #1 moments especially, I can create a sustainable business, and have an amazing personal life, too.
I would love you to experience these results too! That’s why I’ve taken the time to share my Headspace journey with you, to encourage you to take some time out for you, and to commit to relaxation for the benefit of your own well-being and also your business.
So what are your techniques for taking the time to chill out? Do you give yourself even five or ten minutes a day to just become aware of what’s going on in your head, and in your body?
Let me know in the comments, and you can, as always, let us know in the Mindstein System Free Facebook Group here !