If you routinely run on reserves and force yourself to accept that constantly feeling tired is all part and parcel of living a busy life - then you, like millions of others around the world, are probably wondering if you are ever going to find a way to escape the exhaustion.
Stress and modern day living can seem to go hand in hand. When everyone around you complains that they have so much to do, don't have enough time or feel shattered, it can be easy to get drawn in to the illusion that there is no other way to get through each day other than to fake a smile and keep struggling on.
But, is that really the way you want to live the rest of your life?
Subjecting yourself to stress 24/7 certainly isn't a sustainable strategy for success. In fact the cumulative effect of prolonged stress and poor lifestyle choices can lead to adrenal fatigue, disorders of the autonomic nervous and immune systems and in extreme cases, burnout.
Commonly ignored signs that stress is taking its toll include: headaches, digestive issues, excessive sweating, salt or sugar cravings, repetitive strain, panic attacks, loss of sex drive, difficulty concentrating, depression, dizziness, insomnia or disturbed sleep, overwhelm, cold hands and feet, partial loss of sight and/or back pain. When we mask these stress signs by popping pills and battling against them instead of exploring the root cause, things can go from bad to worse.
In 2007 I learnt this lesson the hard way. I disregarded several signs of stress until eventually my lifelong habits of overwork finally caught up with me and resulted in a debilitating post-viral illness combined with extreme dizziness, forcing me to become bedridden for six months. My body literally shut down and despite my best efforts to get going again, I found had no option but to rest.
Barely able to lift my head from my pillow, I had plenty of time to reflect on the internal beliefs and external circumstances that had led to my catastrophic burnout.
It gradually dawned on me that I had been living my life as if it were a race, rather than enjoying the journey. Before burning out my focus had primarily been on how I was going to climb the next rung of the corporate ladder. I rushed head on from project to project without truly experiencing the beautiful connections, opportunities and inspiration all around me. I didn't allow myself the opportunity to hover like a hummingbird and savour the sweet sensations of life.
Through the experience of taking things so close to the edge I awakened to a deep inner realisation that in order to recover I needed to create a new mindset and way of being. As Einstein once said: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". I knew I needed to rest, refuel and reinvent myself and transformed the situation into an opportunity for profound personal change. In doing this I discovered that within me I had everything I needed to not only recover, but to cope with modern living in a calm and energized way.
As humans we have a remarkable ability to self-heal and rejuvenate. Recovery requires three key things: self-care, belief in a positive outcome and a commitment to pay attention to our intuition. You can think of your intuition like an inbuilt guidance system. It is something that we all have. It works rather like a sat nav that is fixed into your car. It is always there, but you choose either to listen to it or to mute it!
When you choose to listen to your intuition it becomes easier to focus on priorities, clear clutter from your life and identify when you need to rest. It also becomes easier to connect to your inner power and ability to lovingly assert yourself by saying "no" instead of overextending and overcommitting. Doing this means you can live more in the moment and truly discover how to enjoy life as a journey rather than a competitive sprint to a destination.
Here are my top five tips to help you hear your intuition so that you can stress less and live more:
1. Remember to Breathe When you notice yourself getting stressed imagine breathing in a feeling of peace and breathing out tension. Say to yourself with each breath "I am breathing in peace" and "I am breathing out stress". Imagine scanning your body for any areas where you are holding tightness and visualise sending that feeling of peace there to help ease and relax you. This will also help you connect to your intuition.
2. Expansion or Contraction? Before you jump into something new pause for a moment and notice whether the project, relationship or opportunity feels expansive and exciting or heavy and restricting. Trust the sensations that your body gives you. Often these are felt across the chest or in the stomach. Take action or inaction based on your gut feelings.
3. Go with your goose bumps! If something makes the hairs on your arms or back of your neck stand up and tingle then your intuition is telling you to take notice. Getting goose bumps about something is a sure sign of something positive. Allow space for whatever it is to come in to your life. This may mean letting something else go.
4. Clear Your Clutter If you don't need, use or love something in your life let it go. Apply this to all areas of your life to help you streamline and focus on the people, projects and places that are your true priorities. There is a saying that 80% of our successes come from 20% of our efforts. Clear out anything that is clogging your energy and preventing you from taking calm, centered, concise, clear action.
5. Pay Attention to Resentments If you feel resentful, frustrated or resistant towards something or someone this is an indication of an area where you need to get creative and find a way to change or release things. This may mean communicating your true feelings to others or lovingly asserting yourself. If you find this hard try boosting your inner power by imagining a ball of energy at the centre of your body, just beneath your rib cage and expanding it to the size of a zorbing ball, filling you with strength, courage and confidence.
6. Have More Fun! What would need to happen for you to have more fun in your life? Think of five things that sound like fun and give them a go.
7. Schedule 'Me' Time Sometimes it can be easier to take time out if it has been planned into your diary like any other important appointment. Book a slot of at least 20 minutes per day to yourself and take it.
Jayne Morris took part in HuffPost Conversation Starters at Wilderness. The Huffington Post UK are proud media partners of Wilderness. Check back here for more exclusive blogs, competitions and stories soon. For tickets to the event click here: www.wildernessfestival.com
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