There’s been a common thread that strings most — if not all — of my recent conversations together. There’s not enough time. We’re all struggling to keep our heads above water, make meaningful connections, meet deadlines and impress superiors. We’re paralyzed with indecision and envy. We’re desperate for connection that — no matter how hard we try — doesn’t seem to come from the devices we hold in our hands.
We’re burning out at a faster rate than ever before.
I’m always looking for ways — tangible, feasible ways — to ground myself when I’m feeling most anxious or disconnected. And while I’ve never purported to hold a degree in psychology, there are several things I’ve learned over time that have helped me better manage stress and to feel more grounded as a mother, articling student, friend and partner.
- Get to the water. A lake, an ocean – even a public fountain will do. There is something about the sound of water falling that can instantly calm an anxious mind. Dip your toes in. Even if it’s freezing cold. Bonus points for feeling sand and/or grass under your feet or witnessing a sunset or sunrise. If all else fails, run a bath or soak your tired toes in some hot and bubbly water after a long day.
- Do a digital detox, or go phone free for a day. I know we all have commitments. We all have to get somewhere, do something. What would happen if you lost your phone for a day? Would your world collapse? Probably not. Make your arrangements and notify those who need to be notified that you’ll be taking a break from your phone today. Allocate someone else to be the point of contact for that day. Challenge yourself to set it aside for 6 hours, and then gradually move up from there.
- Find something to look forward to. Take a day off and plan a trip – even something as simple as a mindless drive with your favourite music turned up as loudly as you like can rejuvenate you. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate production involving money or mass amounts of time. Just you and the open road. Maybe you’ll spend the day antiquing, or browsing bookstores for your favourite stationary. Maybe you’ll book the afternoon off for a pedicure and a quick trip to the park to read. Whatever you do, do it for you and you alone.
- Take care of three things you’ve been putting off. Write a list of three things you’ve been meaning to do but can’t seem to find the motivation for. Do those things, one at a time. Enjoy crossing each item off your list.
- Indulge. Buy those ridiculous reading socks for yourself that you know you’d never otherwise buy. Buy the expensive tea and/or candle. Splurge on something you’ve always wanted but never given yourself permission to buy.
- Write. Write a letter or in a journal. If you find yourself preoccupied by someone else, write them a letter. Be as honest as you’d like. Then burn it.
- Establish boundaries. Establishing healthy boundaries is SO important. It involves developing a better sense of self-awareness, identifying your ‘triggers’ (whether they be personal or situational), and communicating your boundary to the affected parties. Remember: it’s okay not to be liked. It’s okay not to be understood. If someone doesn’t understand your boundary, don’t argue with them: it diminishes your resolve. Take small steps today to identify where you’d like to establish boundaries in your life.
- Say ‘no’. For every new thing you take on (whether it be at home, in your relationships with others, or at work), let one thing go. Or, make a list of three things you’ll let go of today.
- Reconnect with someone you care about. Make an authentic human connection. When life gets busy, it’s become too easy to get lost in the shuffle and to feel like an overwhelmed hamster on a wheel. Maybe you’ve drifted apart, and maybe you’ve somehow become one another’s last priority amidst the chaos of life. Reach out and connect with someone you’ve lost touch with, or make a more quality connection with those you share your day to day life with.
- Hire someone/delegate. What do you hate most? Dinner? Dishes? Lawn care? Make room in your budget to ensure you’re given ample breaks from the most monotonous tasks of adulthood. You may think your budget doesn’t allow for it, but with some careful rearranging and re-prioritizing, I assure you – it will be money more than well-spent.
How do you ‘ground yourself’ when you’re feeling overwhelmed and disconnected?