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When I started a recruitment agency three years ago, my daughter, Amelia, was eighteen months old and my husband and I had recently relocated from London to Shropshire. I knew that there was a lot to do: prioritize our daughter, buy a family home, a bolt hole in London and drive my new business forward. The only way I was going to make it through was to be efficient and productive with every minute of my time.
What I learned quickly was that the most important factor to getting things done (and not breaking down) is to accept that stress is a part of life whilst having the self control to not allow yourself to stress out. Take everything in stride and if you are finding it difficult to cope with a situation don’t be afraid to remove yourself from it. Stress zaps your energy. Here are ten ways I learned to stay calm in the chaos by focusing on well being and the mind.
1 | Sleep.
The most important and fundamental tip is to get good quality sleep. Without it, you are not working at maximum capacity which will cause you to struggle with complex situations and decision making. The National Sleep Foundation advises that you sleep for seven to nine hours per night. I always try to follow these guidelines, that is of course, if my daughter allows me to.
2 | Exercise.
It helps to keep us focused and it helps us to sleep as it ensures that we are physically tired. I find that having a long term goal gives your exercise a purpose which will help you stay motivated. My goal is a marathon: Lisbon, October 2016.
3 | Hydrate.
There isn’t a place that I don’t have a glass or bottle of water: by my bed, in the car, on my desk, in my handbag. Try to drink a glass of water before you go to sleep and as soon as you wake up, this is when you need it most. Staying hydrated reduces toxins and aids digestion. The European Food Safety Authority suggested in 2010 that a minimum level of water consumption for women is 1.6 litres (about 7 cups) per day.
4 | Eat fresh.
Processed foods are full of salt and sugar, neither of which are good for you. Eat fresh, eat raw where possible, stay healthy. I find this nutrition website, www.authoritynutrition.com, very useful because their articles are evidence based.
5 | Clean and tidy.
Our minds operate more effectively if our surroundings are clean, clear and organized. This may sound over kill but everyone in my office is issued a pack of anti-bacterial wipes and advised to wipe their keyboards and telephones everyday. The spreading of germs is what causes us to get the majority of coughs, colds and sickness bugs, so the more germs we can eliminate the less likely we are to be taken down.
6 | Disconnect.
Taking the time each day to disconnect from people, from your phone, from the Internet, enables you to think, to plan and to consider without interruption. I have recently discovered meditation and, although my husband finds it hilarious, I really do benefit from breathing exercises, especially before I go to bed. It allows me to feel totally relaxed and de-stressed.
7 | Take breaks.
As a recruiter, I spend a lot of time at my desk, writing emails, talking on the phone or sitting in meetings. I feel so energized when I walk around the office. Ideally, we should not sit in one place for more than 20 minutes. So, instead of emailing colleagues, I will occasionally visit their desk. We have even started standing meetings; it really does make a difference. Also, taking a break outside of the office is beneficial; walk around, get the blood pumping and a change of scenery.
8 | Notebook.
I always have a notebook in my bag and my iPhone notes are full of ideas and random information. I do prefer to write notes down as I feel the ideas are coming to life and I’m more likely to see them evolve.
9 | Brain dump.
The first thing I do every morning when I get to work is write down everything in my mind that I have been planning from the moment I woke up that morning. I find that this alleviates my brain of information and allows me to focus on the day. Dr. Carson Tate, in an article for Forbes, calls this a brain dump and I find it very useful.
10 | Organize.
Routine is what most people believe makes an individual most productive. Being controversial, I think routine is a dirty word. I believe that sometimes people get so caught up in their routine they miss opportunities. However, organization is a must and if you are not naturally organized then you have to discipline yourself, just like me! I definitely enjoy a certain element of chaos, sometimes I think it’s necessary to make change and to continue to improve.
Be honest: do you let self care slide in times of stress?