If you’re not quitting your job to move to an island, you need a shift in perspective.
Most of us, yes, including you, are running on adrenaline. You may think you feel energised but take a moment to take stock: on a scale from 1-10 how well rested do you actually feel when you wake up? Why are you so tired? Likely because your mind is constantly running. Or because you’re really, really doing a lot. We can bio-hack all we want to make sure our bodies keep up, but ultimately, a shift in perspective is required to truly cultivate a state of well-being without quitting our jobs and moving to an island.
First, you need to acknowledge the expectation you have to do more. Society values productivity (why, is a tale for another time). We say things like “time is money” “I value my time”, “time is a commodity”. And the challenge becomes what we can do with that time. It’s as if life is a race to some finish line. Only, the finish line moves away from us the faster we chase it. Recognising this helps us to loosen our grip a bit. If we know we never “get there”, and all there is is the “now” we can settle into being present for what’s in front of us, without stressing about whether we did enough at the end of the day, or how many other things we have yet to accomplish. We can still aim to achieve but we can do it with much more mindfulness and in a way that allows for flexibility rather than rigidity and stress.
Then you need to assess. Ask yourself if you value feeling well and honestly assess whether your actions align with that belief. You’d be shocked if you kept track of all the times you pushed yourself a little too hard. You also need to ask yourself if you’re doing work that peaks your interest, is aligned with your values, gives you purpose. Do you feel fulfilled? Are you of service? Are you having fun? If not, it doesn’t matter what efficiency tricks you learn, you’ll burn out, fast.
Work isn’t separate from life. How we take care of ourselves all day, every day determines how we show up in the world, and for work. Do you eat a variety of nutritionally dense foods or mindlessly consume stuff from a package? Are you asleep before 10:30 most nights? Do you have a regular practice of moving your body? Do you offer yourself time alone to check in with your needs or just relax? Do you say yes to plans you’d rather not agree to or leave social gatherings when you’re feeling tapped out? Do you give yourself permission to stop working when your brain feels fried? Do you take breaks, often, and cut yourself some slack when you’re not “super productive”? Do you have a morning routine that’s slow and mindful or do you rush out of bed and into the day?
We can’t answer yes to all of these all of the time. But if more often than not you’d answer no, you’ve got to check yourself, babe. Because you’re not really acting like someone who loves themselves.
To sum it up:
1. Do work that’s aligned with your heart, interests, or calling.
2. Train yourself to believe life isn’t about getting work done. When you think “I haven’t done anything today”, stop yourself and list one thing you did that you’re really, really proud of, even if it’s “putting on pants”. It’s the vibration of gratitude and acceptance we care about here.
3. Consciously tap out of the “need-to-do-more” game and work at your own pace and for people who value your wellbeing.
4. Practice better sleep.
5. Cultivate a meditation practice.
6. Eat a variety of nutritionally dense foods.
7. Develop a morning ritual that’s slow, yummy, and brings you joy.
8. Do something kind, every day, for yourself and/or others.
9. Practice mindfulness. Do everything with awareness and intention.
10. Slow down. Walk, eat, work, talk slowly. All of these actions use up energy.
11. Check yourself. Are you feeling overworked? Start acting like you deserve a break.
12. Believe that life is meant to be fun, not productive.
13. Take up a hobby that fuels your creativity and get you out of your head and into your body.
14. Do something of service. Being of service and showing kindness is the fast track to feeling fulfilled. Alan Watts poignantly notes, “the meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” Essentially, we all need to chill out.
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