Updated: Apr 22, 2020
What's covered: How to motivate yourself to be more productive with less stress; How to focus when you don't feel like doing anything at all; How to take timeout minus the I-Should-Be-Doing-Something Guilt (applicable during the Coronavirus & all other times in your life!)
I'm about to say some things to you that you wouldn't usually hear me say...
Don't aim too high.
Set the bar low.
Don't expect much of yourself.
Let me explain...
My guess is that you and I have something common: We are so *FREAKING* hard on ourselves!
Does this inner dialogue sound familiar? I should be doing more. How can I do this better? What else can I do to help?
A good friend recently confided in me: "I feel like I'm just wasting my time. I'm not really accomplishing anything, but then I don't feel like I've got the energy to do much either..."
Another friend echoed similar thoughts: "I feel so much pressure to do something, but I feel completely uncertain about what exactly to do. I get caught between wanting to take action, and then this pull back due to the uncertainty we're facing."
I get it. It's like being stuck in a continuous loop-de-loop, and there's zero FUN STARS for that stomach-turning ride.
It's easy to start thinking: What's the point? Everything's shifting under my feet. Every time I feel like I know where I'm heading, the rules change. Then I recover and I alter my course, and the rules change again!
Like it or not, due to the Coronavirus, we're all players in a game that we didn't sign-up for, with an ever-changing rule book that magically (and infuriatingly) re-writes itself overnight.
Jeez, give me good ol' predictable Monopoly or Scrabble any day!
But this is where we are: right here. And this is the way it is: right now.
"We're all in this together" isn't just a sweet and catchy Ben Lee song lyric, it's true.
Today, more than ever.
So how about if we drop the stress bags and aim to take a different approach at this time? What if we acknowledge ourselves for doing the most basic things?
Join me and take a break from being that self-driven taskmaster who sees what hasn't been done, rather than celebrating what has.
Let's lower our expectations of ourselves during the Coronavirus and set that personal-scrutiny bar a lot lower too.
Here are some examples of those not-so LITTLE accomplishments that often go unrecognized: I made the bed. (Woo-hoo!) I put through a load of washing. (Clean undies - oh yeah!) I walked my dog. (We all need to poop!) I cooked a nutritious dinner. (Damn that's good!) I sent off a business email. (Check, check!) I played a game with my child. (Laughter!) I went for a bike ride. (Freeeedom!) I called a friend. (Connection!) I read a chapter of that book that's been sitting bedside for 6 months...
And sometimes it's about "doing" something else entirely: It's about doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
Yep, you heard me, diddly squat.
If you're a highly creative person and a really conscientious worker who loves to check off their mental to-do list, then there might be some wormy, squirmy resistance to that notion: Really? Just do nothing and feel completely okay about it?
Sit, breathe, allow your mind and body the time and space it needs to process all the change that's happening around you. You can be mad, sad, lonely, confused or feel no particular way at all. Just sit, observe and allow.
When things become wobbly and shaky, it's so easy to revert to what we can control.
Incessant "doing" and non-stop "thinking" becomes a really appealing way of coping, but continually doing in a state of anxiety and stress leads to some pretty messy (and unattractive!) meltdowns.
I really don't want you to fall into this dodgy over-doing trap, because there are much healthier ways to be more productive, focused and motivated with less stress.
Here are my 4 MUST-ASK QUESTIONS so you can become more productive and efficient at work or home without putting massive strain on your body:
Is what I'm about to do really need to be done? Be objective and completely honest with yourself.
Does it need to be done right now? Give yourself permission to re-schedule, or even delegate.
Do I feel enthusiasm for what I'm about to do or does it feel oh-so heavy? Tune into the high/low energy rhythms of your body.
How can I make this easier for my body? Balance your work/doing with play/chilling.
If, like me and many others, you're juggling work demands, looking at fresh ways to adapt, oscillating between optimism and doubt, shifting between enthusiasm and lethargy, then take a moment to check in with your body before taking any action.
Learn to ride the higher energy days and surrender - as much as possible - to the lower energy days. Do the best you can with the energy you've been funded at any given time.
The sun doesn't shine 24/7, and neither does your mind and body.
Sometimes it's just a matter of giving yourself a 5-minute break, other times it's about completely re-scheduling your day or scrapping an idea entirely.
(If you're a front line worker during the Coronavirus with little choice or flexibility over your work schedule, then make conscious breathing your #1 go-to technique for instant stress relief. These articles will show you how: Staying Safe & Sane During The Craziness Of Corona; How To Deal With Anxiety In A World Gone Weird)
Overall, people are incredibly understanding of the pressures all of us are facing - personally, professionally and collectively.
So really, there's never been a better time to re-evaluate how you do things and to put things in place that allow you to honour your physical-mental-emotional health.
We don't have to change what others are expecting of us at this time, but we do need to shift what we expect of ourselves.
No one can put pressure on you, like the pressure you put on yourself.
If you're reading this, then I already know - without a doubt - you're the kind of person who is doing the very best they can. Remember that.
The upshot: Stop mentally hassling yourself and being a crappy boss! Listen to your body and reward yourself regularly with downtime. Celebrate and acknowledge the small, daily, magnificently mundane wins that can keep us humble and grounded in these OTT times.
And if you fall out of the take-it-easier boat, then also remember this: Try again tomorrow! ;-)
Keep listening to your body and trusting your wise self,
Next step: Have a few stressed-out friends or colleagues? Click on one of the social media icons below to share this chilled-out article or join my fluff-free health tribe by entering your details below - helpful life stuff only!
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