Whilst summer is an amazing time of year to enjoy – the weather, holidays, family and friends - it can also be a tough period in business. Perhaps it’s your ‘silly season’ and you’re rushed off your feet, or you’re trying to juggle school holidays and still work business hours. ‘Overwhelm’ is a common complaint when you run your own business; there’s no ‘clocking off’ feeling, or the luxury of ‘leaving work at work’. It can be all-consuming – if you’re feeling like work is getting on top of you, here are a few simple, mindfulness ideas to get you back on track…
Firstly, recognising that you’re feeling overwhelmed is HUGE. Often when we are drowning in our to-do list we’ll brush it off as being ‘super busy’ and continue to plough on, hoping to dig our way out the other side. Stopping, resetting and recognising things are getting on top of us is a very important first step…
A simple exercise you can do anywhere is ’10 deep breaths’ – when we are stressed we shallow breathe. Filling our lungs with oxygen can help our body lower the stress hormone, cortisol. Try breathing in through your nose for 5, pausing for a second, then out through your mouth for 5. Repeat 10 times.
When we are overwhelmed we often feel like we should ‘work harder’, or ‘keep trying’ but that can actually have the reverse effect and reduce our productivity. Stopping and reconnecting your mind and body can help bring you clarity and space you need to come at the task afresh. Try taking a walk in the garden barefoot (perfect time of year for it!) and doing the breathing exercise above.
Sometimes we need to step away from the task completely. This isn’t you quitting, it’s about taking a break – it might be getting some exercise, making a phone call to a friend, reading an inspiring article or book… often when we divert our brains away from the difficult task we are struggling with, the answer will come to us more fluidly.
Break it down
What is it that is causing you to feel overwhelmed? Is there a specific trigger? Spend some time each day jotting down the ‘pain points’ that are causing you stress. What can be done about them? Can you change your daily routine? Another way to reduce overwhelm is to break down your vast to-do list into do-able chunks. Whether it's daily, weekly, monthly lists - or perhaps traffic lighting them into a priority list so you can tackle them in a clear order. Whatever it takes to make things feel more managable.
This may be the hardest one if you work for yourself but is essential to stop yourself feeling consumed by work. Whether it’s having a digital detox at weekends if your working week is screen-focussed, or a physically boundary in not bringing work home with you from the office. Whatever you need to put in place to ring fence your down time will enable you to return to your work renewed.
Finally – get support. Do you need some extra childcare to see you through the holidays? Does your business need an extra pair of hands to see you through this busy period? Perhaps you need some help clarifying your business objectives and goals for the forthcoming season? Wherever you can identify needing support in your work or life, seek it and claim back control.
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