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Do you ever find yourself, perhaps with a cup of tea or coffee in hand some time early in the morning, just sitting there staring out into space? Outwardly you may appear relaxed and serene but on the inside you are dealing with a whirlwind of endless to-dos, whens and hows. Then, when you finally come to yourself you realise that you're already running late and could have done two of the tasks that were on your mind in the time you've wasted thinking about it; you're already failing.
I often have this feeling of being almost paralysed, of being pulled in so many directions that I'm stuck stock-still, seemingly unable to overcome the feeling of being totally overwhelmed.
And the thing is that this might be understandable if I have a lot of serious commitments and things to get done that are of genuinely urgent importance but the fact is I just don't. I have things that do need to get done but never immediately, and I have things I would like to do. This all sounds very free and easy, surely I could just tick a few things off the need-to-do list, get a sense of satisfaction and achievement and then go and do some of the things I want to at my own leisure. That sounds like a great day, no? Well you just watch and see all of the ways that I can make my day unnecessarily stressful.
I know that I am not alone in this. We all put such huge expectations on ourselves that we constantly feel stressed out, like we're not good enough and that we're underachieving, and we place the title of failure on ourselves often before we've even got started. We'll give ourselves a hard time because we didn't get up early, do a work-out, have a faddingly healthy breakfast, meditate, dry brush, shower, partake in an extensive morning skincare and makeup routine and swan out of the house all look-book ready.
Well of course you're going to feel stressed out if you're going to tell yourself you have to do all of those things before you've even started your already demanding day!
You sleep through your unreasonably early alarm, eat whatever's there, if anything, shower and get out of the door, and even though this long day of opportunities is stretching out before you, you already start your day as a failure. Are you your own worst critic or what!?
Putting too high an expectation on myself has always been my downfall and it has always inevitably left me less productive and letting down those around me almost as much as I've been letting down myself, but there are things that even I can do to start to change that and here is how I intend to try.
Do something for your tomorrow today.
How many times have you heard this advice? It can be found in all kinds of self-help articles/talks/podcasts, and is the kind of advice that seems so obvious and yet is so much easier said than done.
The problem is that it's so easy to give up on a day when it's not going well. I am a real one for writing a day off come mid-afternoon when I feel like the day has flown by in an unproductive funk of stress and dissapointement. However it's those few days when, even if I feel tired and achy, I do a few simple things that I know I'll be grateful for later and which in turn lead to a great start to the next day.
Now I'm not talking about something that will add more stress and become another anxious to-do for that day like some complicated kind of meal prep, nor something that will put more of that unreasonable pressure on yourself the next morning like laying all of your gym clothes out to try and make it easier to motivate yourself to go to the gym; having all of your work-out stuff folded on top of your chest of drawers is not going to make things THAT much easier than having them folded up inside your drawers. You're not suddenly going to become some amazingly motivated sports woman just because there are gym clothes in your peripheral vision, I'm sorry, it's just not.
I'm talking about simple things that will make you feel calmer, less stressed and more organised and that which will actually help you wind down for the night.
You have to be up early? Have a shower or bath the night before so you need nothing more than a quick rinse in the morning, slather your body in sweet smelling oils or moisturisers and maybe get a candle involved for added relaxation. This way you've wound-down for the night and you'll wake up feeling clean and fresh, maybe organise your makeup bag and skin care bottles so it's quick and easy to get ready the next day, perhaps even wash a couple of make up brushes in the shower so that you're feeling super organised and pleased with yourself the next morning when everything is prepped and ready to go.
If you will have enough time to spend at home in the morning for a nice coffee and a bit of breakfast make sure you completely clean up the kitchen so that it's a welcome sight to you the next morning (I know — impossible if you live with lots of other people! This time will come!) and you're not seeing disorganisation and to-dos everywhere you look. Same with your bedside table or the patch of floor you look at when you wake up - make it clear, clean and ordered for you go to bed so that you don't immediately feel overwhelmed when you wake up.
It can even be as simple as "I'm probably going to wear tights tomorrow. I'm going to identify at least two pairs that definitely don't have any holes or ladders in now before I go to bed," because there is nothing worse than rushing out of the door and suddenly realising you have an enormous ladder up the back of your leg!
None of these things should be stressful 'I have tos' but should be optional 'I would like tos' because I know it will improve my day tomorrow and de-clutter my mind now.
I tried this yesterday and it's already had an enormous effect on how calm and positive I feel today. What I need to do now is keep repeating it so that I truly start to learn how good it makes me feel, and so that I get out of the bad habit and complete cop-out of saying, "I'll be a better person tomorrow."
What are the things you unnecessarily stress yourself out about?
Are there any things you do to stop yourself worrying about them so much?