Today I am asking the question: can you be busy and Zen at the same time? And I say “Yes you can”.
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Are you a working mum who is constantly juggling work, children, home and other commitments? Are you feeling tired, stressed, overworked, underpaid, overloaded, underappreciated? If this sounds like you, hang in there because I am about to give you three full-proof strategies that will take your stress levels from ten to Zen in next to no time. I am talking about three steps that you can take action on straight away that will not only reduce your stress levels in the moment but will continue to reduce your stress levels over time.
When most people talk about reducing stress, they often talk about the importance of breathing correctly, relaxing the muscles and returning the body to the relaxed response through meditation or yoga, and I have to agree that these are among the most important things we can do to reduce stress and maintain a healthy balance in our bodies and in our lives.
I am going to address some of the things that cause stress in the first place, however, and you might be surprised by what they are.
- Drop the Drama
Drama is like pepper. It is meant to add spice to your life not fill your whole plate.
The first thing you can do to reduce your stress levels is drop the drama you have attached to the items on your To Do List.
Believe it or not, it is never the ‘things’ on our lists that cause us stress. It is the thoughts and feelings we have about those ‘things’ that cause us stress and many of us can get caught up in the stories we create around those ‘things’.
I am talking about letting go of negative thoughts like “this is going to be so hard”, “this is going to take forever”, “nobody ever helps me”, “I can’t do this by myself”, all of which create feelings of hardship and loneliness.
The first thing we have to do is make a decision to let the drama go. Drama can be addictive. It can feel exciting and make us feel important and special. We often cause our own drama by leaving things to the last minute, being late, being unprepared, forgetting things and rushing around.
The second thing we have to do is learn the difference between fact and fiction. For example, “I have lots to do” might be a fact. “I am going to die if I don’t get it all done.” is more than likely fiction and there can be a whole lot of drama and negative emotion around the fiction. It is an exaggeration – a story – and the more we tell it to ourselves and even voice it to others, the more stressed we become.
Once we learn to differentiate between fact and fiction, we can then choose not to be drawn in to our own negative stories. Do they help? Do they make it easier for us to get things done? No they don’t. All they do is draw our valuable time and energy away from the things that need our attention most.
- Stop Shoulding
Every time you start a thought or sentence with “I should…” it is like stepping on to your own back, becoming your own jockey and cracking the whip.
Another powerful way to reduce stress is to stop shoulding. I do not know a woman who doesn’t have a list of shoulds stored carefully in the back of her mind ready for her to pull out and use against herself at any given moment.
The fact of the matter is that shoulding is debilitating. It highlights lack, inadequacy and limitation and it brings about feelings of disappointment and worthlessness at least, self-hatred and a need to self-punish at worst. How can that not cause us stress?
Shoulding was brought to my awareness by the author and publisher Louise L Hay in her best-selling book You Can Heal Your Life. It is nothing more than thinking and talking about who you should be, what you should be doing and what you should have that you aren’t already, don’t already have and haven’t already obtained.
“I should be slimmer, I should be smarter, I should work harder, I should give more, I should have a better home, I should have a nicer car,” etc. You know how the conversation goes.
The best way to stop shoulding is to get that list out of the back of your mind and put it on to paper, replace the word should with could and then decide whether you will or won’t.
- Don’t Serve Your Children. Teach Them Independence.
When I serve my children I disempower them and I make a rod for my own back.
There are many reasons why teaching independence is so important including less stress for you and a healthier self-esteem for each of your children.
When my children were younger, I did as my mother did (and her mother I suspect) and I did everything for my children. It was, after all, my job as their mother. At least I thought it was, until someone told me a different truth and helped me to view this parenting thing from a different perspective.
Our job as parents is to teach independence.
When I don’t give my children the opportunity to learn to do things for themselves, I am unconsciously telling them that I don’t believe they are capable. I am also robbing them of the opportunity to build self-esteem in the only way it can truly be built – by seeing with their own eyes what they are capable of.
I am talking about teaching your children do things for themselves and for others around the home from the earliest age possible, instead of stepping in and doing everything yourself because you might be quicker or better at doing it.
The way in which we do this is by taking the time to evaluate what our children can be doing for themselves right now and then going about teaching them the skills they need to succeed in those tasks. This takes time and it takes patience but in the long run it will mean less demand for your time and energy and a happier, healthier, functional family that share in the responsibilities with love.
Even if you take one of these on board your life will be less stressful and as the saying goes, prevention is far better than cure.
Important Links for creating a Juicy Life in 2016
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I look forward to working with you and alongside you while you create your very own Juicy Life in 2016