Guest post by Kristina Sisco from Krissysisco.com
In this crazy busy world we live in today, it’s easy to forget who we are deep down. We get so involved in our work that we wake up one day and wonder what happened to the last year (or 5 years) of our life. Life is moving so quickly. The older I get the faster the years go by. Our days are filled with 24/7 technology, to do lists, social media, news, deadlines, caffeine, fast food, lack of sleep, and just plain exhaustion! And we wonder why anxiety and depression is on the rise?! While we should appreciate the advancements of technology, I really don’t think this is the kind of life any of us want to be living. We have to find balance between it all and start enjoying life again.
I am a self-proclaimed anxiety-ridden workaholic. But you know what they say, admitting the problem is the first step to recovery. And that is exactly what I’m trying to do every day. Every day I am a work in progress. I am a recovering workaholic. I often fall off the wagon and find myself having the occasional anxiety attack due to working too many hours and not taking care of myself or, more importantly, my soul. Today I’m going to share with you ten steps that I strive to take each week that have helped me recover from my workaholic syndrome.
1. Make your home or space a sanctuary.
Whether you work from home or outside of the home, you should have a space that is filled with all things welcoming and relaxing. If you do work at home, try to keep your office space completely separate from your living area. I think these boundaries are very important for separating work time from relax time. If your computer, calendar, or to do list are out of sight, it will be much easier for you to turn off work and turn on relaxation mode.
Relaxing Scents – at the end of a work day, come home and light a candle or turn on an oil diffuser and fill your home with the relaxing scent of lavender or invigorating eucalyptus. As much as I love candles, my sinuses are very sensitive to a lot of scents. Lately I’ve been using my InnoGear Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser before bedtime. Lavender essential oil is my favorite for relaxation, but sometimes I will use an orange essential oil in the morning to energize me while I’m getting ready for the day.
Plants and Flowers – While I don’t have the greenest thumb in the house, I do love to keep a few easy to maintain plants around the house. House plants offer a number of benefits: better air quality, stress reduction, and some plants, depending on their size can help reduce noise. So if you live in a particularly noisy building or you have a lot street noise, fill your space with plants!
Music – Everyone loves music. Even though I teach music all day, there are certain kinds of music I like to play when I get home to help me unwind. Try making a Spotify playlist of your favorite relaxing tunes. Or, just let Spotify do it for you. Search playlists like “spa music” or “relaxation” or whatever kind of music helps you unwind from a long day.
Lighting – The right kind of lighting is essential for me when I want to relax. I love a warm, soft glow in every room. Candlelight should not just be reserved for romantic dinners. Twinkle lights (or fairy lights) are also one of my lighting essentials. They don’t have to be used during the holidays only. Wrap them around an artificial plant or tree. Or, string them up on a mantle. The cozy feeling they give off will make you wonder why you didn’t do this sooner.
2. Stop Working Late
This step is the hardest for me, but when I do it, I see a major difference in my energy level and overall well being. When your “sign out” time rolls around and you’ve worked your contracted hours for the day….go home! Now, I know for teachers, like myself, this is laughable. There is no way we can get everything done that we need to do in one little “planning period”. But, I tell you, I have experienced major burn-out in the past from working late. What I try to do now is keep a master to do list. I pick three things from that list each day that are vital and must be done that day. If I cross those off and have more time, I add another to the list. When those vital things are done, I go home. I may have to stay 30 minutes to an hour later on some days, but never more than that anymore!
I really don’t have to tell you why this is important for balance. We all know exercise is important for energy, longevity, and overall health. But I will say this, if you don’t have a regular exercise routine, even if it’s just 10 to 15 minutes a day, please just try it. It will make all the difference in the world in how you feel both physically and mentally. Exercise is my medicine for anxiety. I hate doing it sometimes, but I have to. Set that alarm a little earlier and do it. You’ll be glad you did.
4. Plan your Meals
I definitely eat my fair share of junk food. But when I make a conscious effort to plan my meals, prepare healthy dishes ahead of time, and keep healthy snacks on hand, I have the energy and stamina to get through my busy day. My blood sugar levels stay normal and my brain fog goes away. I am much more productive when I eat healthy. And the more productive we are at work, the easier it is to go home when it’s time. Some snacks I’m loving lately are KIND Bars and Pistachios. I can toss these in my bag with an apple or banana and I don’t have to worry about getting hungry and being forced to grab something unhealthy.
5. Schedule a spa night (at home) once a week
This is something new I’m trying this year and so far, I love it! I schedule my spa night for midweek on Wednesday night. This is when I will take the time to soak in a hot bath, paint my nails, put on a face mask, do a hair treatment, etc. Taking care of yourself makes you feel like taking care of others. My most recent ritual includes watching the latest episode of “This Is Us” on my iPad while soaking in a hot tub with Dr. Teal’s Foaming Bath. This time has become very special to me and it makes me feel so energized for the rest of my week.
6. Try one new thing/experience each month
Sometimes we get so bogged down with work that we forget who we are without work. Try making a list of 12 things you’d like to try or a new experience you’d like to have. It doesn’t have to be something elaborate or expensive. You’d be amazed what you can discover in your own home town. And lots of things are free! After you make your list, schedule time to do one of those things each month. At the end of the year, take the time to look back and reflect on those experiences and see what you learned from them.
7. Give yourself plenty of time to wind down at night before bed
A good night’s sleep is vital to good health and balance. About 30 minutes before bed, turn off all electronics and start winding down. I admit, I love to get on my phone and check social media in bed or watch tv, but I find when I wind down with a book instead, I sleep so much better. The light emitted from your phone, or tv actually interferes with your melatonin production (the hormone that controls your sleep cycle). So try winding down with a hot bath, a good book, or a cup of chamomile tea instead.
8. Do something nice for someone else
When we turn our focus from ourselves to someone else, it makes us forget about our own issues and see the world from a different perspective. There are plenty of churches or other organizations that could use your help. Volunteer to cook a meal for someone who’s sick, help a neighbor out by walking their dog, or just visit someone who’s lonely. It’s good to step away from our own box from time to time to gain some clarity and balance. And often times it reminds us of how blessed we truly are.
9. Make some time for your favorite hobby
I’m a singer. I love to sing. It was my major in college. But as a music teacher, over the course of several years, my focus became more and more concentrated on work and I forgot about my first love, singing. Last year I discovered an app called Smule Sing! Basically, it’s a karaoke machine on your phone! You can sing solos or you can do “joins” or “collabs” with people from all over the world. When I’m feeling stressed, that’s what I do. It’s like a little reminder now and then that I’m still me. It sounds silly I know, but just rekindling that fire has been such a huge stress reliever to me. So, think about something you used to do that you love and start doing it again!
10. Get outside
There’s nothing like the great outdoors. A recent study showed that being outside might actually increase our concentration skills! Plus, we could all probably use a little more Vitamin D from the sun. To me, getting outside makes me feel alive and energized. So go for a short walk or run, ride a bike, or just go out and take some deep, cleansing breaths. It will make you feel like a kid again!
Life is meant to be lived. So if you find yourself in a rut, feeling burned out and overwhelmed, maybe try some of these steps toward remembering who you are and living a balanced, happy life.
Products recommended by Kristina:
4. KIND Bars
You will probably see Affiliate links in my articles. The small amounts of money I make from Amazon goes towards my 3 year olds Toy addiction, and does not cost you anything. Just so you know.