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More Balance - Less Busy

Vicki Brook - EXALT Holistic Wellness Guru - May 2021

The pubs and restaurants are finally open indoors, exercise classes are back on, sports arenas are opening up and maybe you’re thinking about planning a summer holiday…hurrah!

This sounds a lot more exciting than a lockdown where you’re allowed out sparingly and can only see friends virtually. A friendly word of caution, however, before you go filling your calendar to the brim with this plethora of exciting or new-ish possibilities; over the last year and a bit we have become used to fewer calendar commitments, less movement and far less social interaction.

We’re used to doing our workouts next to our desks, sleeping more, and having more natural down-time. Beware the temptation to rush straight back into a busy lifestyle, I’m talking the ‘I’ve got Barry’s at 6.30am - grab my second morning coffee before my first meeting – meetings all day – after work straight to the pub for one - meet Sam for dinner – join the group for post-dinner drinks - bed at 1am’ kinda day. This kind of day on repeat will lead to burnout, putting immense pressure on the body, mind & spirit, and ultimately damaging your overall wellbeing.

We all live busy lives nowadays – so much so that ‘busy’ is worn as a badge of honour. The assumption is that if you’re not busy, you’re not productive, and if you’re not productive, then you’re not contributing to society as much as you should. I’d like to challenge this mode of operation and instead suggest that we could all benefit from a bit of balance.

Lockdown was an extreme, much as rushing back into a busy lifestyle would be another extreme. How about we look to strike a balance, where we prioritise our own wellbeing first (think good sleep, food, self-care, moderate exercise, time in nature, reading) and then see if there’s any time leftover that we’d like to spend in a different way. I guarantee you the time left over will be more enjoyable when the battery is full rather than depleted.

When we are living a ‘busy’ lifestyle with little or no time for ourselves to recharge, we’re living in a place where our fight or flight response is constantly triggered – we are living in a state of constant stress. Constant stress can lead to burnout, and you might experience any or all of the following along the way; low energy levels, lack of motivation, anxiety, chronic fatigue, digestive problems, hormone deregulation, sleep disruption, poor food choices. That will put us right back in that lockdown state again, right?

So how can we look to find that balance between being hermits and being busy? Dare I say, the ‘right’ kind of busy? Let’s think about this from the perspective of the 3 pillars of wellness: mind, body & spirit.

Mind

Stress in the mind can lead to anxiety, irritability, lack of motivation, lack of clarity, overwhelm and burnout. Our minds can go into overload when we have too much on our plates or are always doing things to fill the calendar rather than spending time with ourselves. What can we do to combat this? Adopt a more mindful approach to life by slowing down. Slow down, slow down, slow down. We wear ‘busy’ like a badge of honour rather than noticing how it depletes us. Meditation really helps with this, so if you haven’t tried meditating yet, give it a go! Or if meditating doesn’t work for you, you can try applying your full focus to one task at a time, noticing as many details as you can – like when you take a shower. Feel the temperature of the water, the smell of the shampoo, the way your muscles relax. How does it feel to take care of your body in this way? In the short term this will combat anxiety, and in the long term it will give you space from challenging thoughts and emotions.

Body

Stress in the body can lead to hormone imbalances, adrenal fatigue, inflammation, slowed digestion, mood fluctuations and chronic fatigue. Our bodies particularly struggle when our minds and spirits are stressed because they are the vehicle of our wellbeing. So, what can we do to support our bodies? Think simple here. Most importantly – get a Probiotic into your daily routine; probiotics do wonders for the microbiome – the population of healthy bacteria that live in the intestine to help us digest food efficiently – which can take a hit through caffeine, alcohol or general toxins in our food or environment. Do a mixture of high intensity and low intensity workouts – think HIIT and yoga - balancing the 2 is key to not being constantly in fight or flight mode. Nourish yourself properly, especially before and after workouts. Get plenty of fresh air, and maybe try a breathing class where you learn proper breathing techniques to re-oxygenate the body efficiently. Do lots of stretching and drink 3 litres of water a day! Simple!

Spirit

Stress on the spirit or emotions can lead to burnout in the form of demotivation, depression or hopelessness. Our spirits struggle when we try to force or muscle through things; think saying to ‘yes’ to that 5th dinner in a row this week when you know you’re already exhausted and truthfully just want to have a bubble bath and mooch in a dressing gown all evening. We can say yes to things that we know aren’t good for us, just to make life easier externally. But this impacts us internally! This can make us feel stuck, fearful, as though we are resisting our real needs and swimming upstream against the current of life. This activates our fight or flight mode – and we’ve already spoken about what havoc living in that mode can wreak on our health. So, what can we do to free our spirits? We can get to know ourselves better by journaling. All you need it a notepad and pen, a comfortable quiet space, and your thoughts. You could use a prompt like ‘What am I grateful for?’, ‘what am I focusing on?’, ‘what’s most important to me right now?’, ‘what am I letting go of?’ or you could just write freely, like a stream of consciousness. Whatever you write about, just make sure it comes from within as though no-one else was going to read it. Let it be an opportunity to explore your deepest fears, darkest secrets, and loftiest dreams.

Let’s find a way to blend what we enjoyed about lockdown – rest, reflection, reading – with what we’re super excited to jump back into again – dining out, getting to the office, intense working out – to encourage more Balance amongst the Busy.

If you’d like a complimentary 30 minute Discovery session with Vicki, you can email her at hello@vickibrook.com or for more details you can visit her website at www.vickibrook.com.

About The Author

Vicki Brook - EXALT Holistic Wellness Guru 
BA, Yale University. MSc, Alef Trust. UKHCA and IAWP Wellness Coach.

Vicki Brook is a Life & Wellness Coach with over 20 years of experience in the world of sports, from nutrition and lifestyle to mindset and psychology. As an ex-professional tennis player and the founder of her life-coaching business Mindfully, Vicki, she works with mindfulness techniques and an athlete-mindset to help clients transform their lives by discovering their true selves, overcoming anxiety & stress, and finding fulfilment.

A spiritual nerd thanks to her MSc in Consciousness & Transpersonal Psychology, a Reiki and Pause Place Practitioner, with further training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Mindfulness.  Vicki gives us at EXALT clear idea of the all-important mind-body connection; the two work together and are reliant on each other, so she’s here to help us look after our minds just as much as we look after our bodies.

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