Spring is finally taking hold of London and it is amazing how much better one feels getting out and about in warm sunshine. Getting to the end of a long winter, energy levels can be low, inspiration lacking and joie de vivre in short supply. So it is always good to have a reminder about the things that help keep us resilient.
- Nurture yourself – keep a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet but be aware that nurturing the body is about more than that. One of my best friends, an Ayurvedic practitioner who runs a diet and health consultancy, Nutrijyoti, once wisely observed we all need to nurture ourselves and over-eating or comfort-eating is often a sign that we are looking for nourishment in other areas of our lives. Her observation is that everything nourishes us on all levels – food, air, water, the environment, the sun, our activities and interests. So if you find yourself eating mindlessly, then question whether it is really food you are craving or if there is a different need.
- Exercise – nothing busts stress, energises and gives a sense of achievement like it. The important thing is finding the form of exercise that works for you, whether it’s a springtime walk or a bootcamp workout, the best benefits come when mind and body both get something out of it.
- Relax – if you are going through a stressful time, seek out the activities or things that can help you switch off and relax. Just switching the brain to thinking about other things (cooking a meal, doing some DIY) can shift more stressful problems into the sub-conscious part of the brain that works away in the background and often means that when you come back to considering problem issues again, you’ll have new ideas and perspectives.
- Sleep – if you are stressed it can make it hard to sleep and that in turn can start a vicious circle. Good sleeping is a habit, so keeping regular sleeping hours, avoiding caffeine, relaxing with a book or music instead of a device before bed can all help. Lavender oil can also help – sprinkled in a bath or on your pillow.
- Take control and act – adopting a victim mentality will deepen feelings of stress so think carefully about what control you have over your own feelings and situation and what you can do to improve things. Then do it. This act alone – even if the things you do may seem small – can be a significant booster to self-esteem.
- Develop some perspective – problems can sometimes seem insurmountable until you put them into perspective. Try scaling things on a range of 1-10; or comparing against bigger things you’ve grappled with in the past or issues you’ve seen those you admire dealing with.
- Keep an optimistic outlook – the same things happen to optimists and pessimists, the pessimists just waste time, energy and inspiration in focusing on the negative. That’s not to say you have to be unrealistic about things – just take a balanced view and understand that things are rarely, if ever, exclusively bad – there’s always an opportunity somewhere.
- Accept what you can’t change – move on, adapt, work around it and you’ll find that you are more creative and resourceful than you might have realised.
- Identify sources of support – just finding a person to listen while you explain what is bothering you can be enough – often we already have the solution ourselves and only realise it once we start to explain things to someone else. Sometimes a patient listener can be the greatest gift in difficult times.
- Manage your time and get comfortable with saying ‘no’ sometimes – we all need to find the right balance between daily graft and all the more palatable activities that sustain mind, body and spirit. Set your boundaries and be assertive in protecting them because maintaining a good balance is as much about operating effectively, creatively and efficiently as it is about allocating your time properly.
- Maintain a sense of life purpose – though we are all acquainted with the stress of over-work, sometimes the stress that comes from a lack of purpose or appreciation can be even harder to bear. We all like to feel needed but it is dangerous to rely entirely on the appreciation of others for a sense of purpose. Basing your drive and self-motivation on a strong internal sense of purpose is a much surer way to keep on track. If it makes others appreciate you too, then so much the better.
- Count your blessings – it can be all too easy to focus on the traffic jam, the unreasonable deadline, the rain (again). Make sure you take a moment each day to savour little daily joys – a ray of sunshine, an enjoyable meal, friendship, a family moment.
None of this is rocket science and we all know all this either consciously or instinctively. Sometimes it is just good to be reminded of what keeps us healthy and human.