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In the last few weeks I’ve been working my backside off. Websites, books, podcasts, speaking, coaching and networking. Not all at the same time, but my days have been very full. Don’t get me wrong I love doing all these things, but there comes a time when you just realise everything is that bit too much.
For someone who’s been through the ringer a few times, you’d have thought I’d have this self management down by now wouldn’t you? No. Not really. It takes a stern conversation from my fiance Jemma to tell me I’m heading down a track that I don’t wish to travel before I do anything about it. Call it a man thing. Call it a pride thing. Whatever you call it, it was the road that was taking me to becoming unwell. And by unwell, I mean the mental side of things as well as the physical.
So I just want to share with you what that road looks like and here are a few of the warning signs at the side of that road.
Frequent headaches – if you’re reaching for the aspirin, almost without thinking, it might mean you’re doing too much. Get some fresh air and reflect instead.
Butterflies – great if you are to perform well in important meetings, but if you’re stressed you feel them far more often. It’s that feeling of anxiety. Try to keep things in perspective.
Self medicating – increasing consumption of coffee, alcohol, food and sugar are signs of stress. Become aware of your consumption and what it might be telling you.
Overreacting – you fly off the handle when really the issue is not that important. Switching off seems difficult and everything is coming at you too quickly. Take a breath.
Paranoia – you are beginning to feel oppressed. Is the world really plotting your downfall? Or are you imagining the worst? Step back and try to become objective.
In bed – you might notice that two things are more difficult to achieve. Sleep and the other tends to effect men more often! Both are symptoms of stress.
Digestive problems – from indigestion to an irritable bowel, your guts act as a barometer of your mood. Listen to your body or in this case your stomach.
Poor judgement – Are you making decisions that just aren’t right? Constantly? Slow to react, or have a ‘mind fog’? Be careful. Consistent bad judgement will effect everyone around you, not just you.
Escapism – Do you find yourself just wanting to curl up under the duvet, take time off or run away? Yup…it’s all getting a bit too much.
Feedback – People will notice things. Even though you think you’re hiding it well. Your being proud. Stop it. Let people ask. It’s good to talk.
Realism – Take a little bit of time out and take stock. Stress heightens even the smallest things. They become a really big deal, even when they are the tiniest problems. Take some time and be honest about the ‘perceived problem’.
Prioritise – What have you got to do today? What is the real order of importance in getting things done? Putting some structure into your day, into your diary is the start of taking ‘chaos’ out of your days.
Exercise – I know I should do more. But the Gym bores me. However many, many studies suggest that exercise, even if it’s a walk around the block starts to unlock those hormones that start to get you centred and feeling in control again.
Measure – Start measuring your success. For some stupid reason, when things get chaotic and stressful we immediately start looking at the negatives in life. Start measuring the successes and the wins for the hour, the day, the week, the month. They soon stack up.
Rest – In modern life we are on a constant treadmill. We live our lives on work, eat, sleep, repeat. It is not a crime to take a little bit of time for you. Do something you love. But rest. Every battery in the world goes flat. We all need a recharge at some point. It’s a good thing to do that.
Talk – It doesn’t matter wether you sit down with your partner or your mate. Pick up the phone to your coach or a professional counsellor. It is just good to talk. Get it off your chest. It’s one of the biggest things you can do, because we’ve all been there and felt like this. There’s no bonus for keeping quiet.
It’s like having the best kept business secret in your pocket!