August 19, 2017
We all live busy lives and the busier we are, the harder it is to stay on top of everything. The more we do, the worse it becomes and our stress levels continue to rise. Even ‘multi-tasking’ is a downward spiral as each time we switch tasks, it can take us up to five minutes to re-focus our thoughts and the very act of toggling between tasks raises our cortisol levels. So not only are we wasting precious time re-focussing our minds between tasks, we’re also raising our stress levels.
It is now time to get off the wheel, take a deep breath and restore the balance in our lives. It is not difficult, it is just a new set of rules or rituals to be practiced. These create a different lifestyle rhythm; once learnt, never forgotten. Balance is about equality, about weighing up the good with the bad. It is about not getting lost in perfection but perhaps more about accepting imperfection.
Here we share the rules we follow to achieve our own lifestyle balance along with some valuable tools to use to help you stay centred.
Get up earlier
In his book The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod suggests getting up super early, before anyone else is awake. In the quiet stillness of the early hours, we can plough through so much that we wouldn’t normally manage to do during a normal day. Start with small steps - setting the alarm just fifteen minutes early and use that time to do something that will help us focus on the day ahead. Maybe meditate for a few minutes, practice a one minute ritual to help us Stop, Inhale, Reset.
This can be incredibly helpful in staying productive and organised, especially when we are trying to fit new things into our schedule, or to maintain willpower. Willpower is a finite resource - we only have a set amount of it each day – so we don’t want to waste it on trivial rather than good decisions. Scentered's co-founder Lara Morgan suggests that if we plan ahead, simple things like meals for the day or week, it takes away the need for willpower or decision making and then these resources are available for other things, like being creative, or concentrating on our goals.
Give yourself ’Grey Time’
So each day begins with a plan, and within that plan we have blocks of grey-time, meetings, and a list of things we want to get done. Grey-time is important to help us keep up and stay aligned - it’s a space to think and review. Remember to plan it into the diary however relentless the schedule is.
We really can say no. So many of us agree to do things, even pretend we’d love to, when inside we’re secretly wondering how we’re going to fit it all in. There are only twenty four hours in the day - and we need to spend some of those taking care of ourselves. Lara explains that it is perfectly normal to feel guilty about saying no, so offer an alternative instead: I can’t do that, but I could do this instead. Soften the blow by saying no in a very pleasant way: “Thank you so much for thinking of me; it sounds like a really great idea. At the moment I’m pretty overstretched, and I’d hate to let you down, so I’ll have to say no for now but do keep me in mind for next time.” Any guilt that we feel at the time will quickly be replaced by the feeling of relief and empowerment we get from not doing something we didn’t want to do.
Edit your to-do list - and be ruthless!
How many of the things on our lists really need to be done? What can we delegate or outsource? Cut our to-do list down to two or three things a day. When our to-do list is short, we feel more positive about reaching the end, so we’re able to get more done. It sounds counterintuitive, and it is, but it works.
Have a clear out
Tackle that drawer that is always ignored, empty the inbox and start afresh, donate old belongings to charity. Whatever we decide to do it is important. It will give us a sense of accomplishment and achievement and make us feel empowered to tackle other tasks. And we will have more ‘breathing space’ to help create balance.
Choose not to be negative, not to look backwards, not to let petty things get us down and only think about positive outcomes and solutions. This way we won’t waste energy on silly negativities.
Be kind to yourself
Rather than think about the things we could have done better, get into the habit of celebrating what we have done well. It is important to reward ourselves for our achievements, large and small. And remember these high points especially when things go wrong- because they will! Remember we are what we choose to be in life.
It is not cheating to enlist a little natural help to centre ourselves. With a little aromatherapy wisdom, we can help ourselves to manage stress and be calm in challenging situations.
Aromatherapy is the ancient art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. When inhaled, the aromatic molecules of the extracted plant essential oils stimulate smell receptors in our nose that send chemical messages to our limbic system. These therapeutic molecules have the ability to trigger emotional and mental responses, and when combined with mindful breathing can help us let go of negative thoughts and shift our mood to bring a renewed sense of positivity and focus.
How to best use aromatherapy to relax
The best way is to practice a one minute ritual and step off the treadmill of life and breathe. Breath is like a bubble and we have to remind ourselves to reach out and catch it. Both mindful and yogic breathing techniques advocate the taking of a short inhale and longer exhale to stimulate the vagus nerve which calms the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) and activates the parasympathetic nervous system which make us feel relaxed. Practice these techniques with aromatherapy and feel more relaxed as the nervous system and the mind starts to calm.
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