Addy's blog: The little things in life....
I recently went to a Cityparents lunchtime seminar on Stress and Burnout and realised that I was very stressed and running dangerously close to burning out. One thing that really resonated with me was that the presenter Lianne said that stress can be on and off, but burnout creeps up on you unexpectedly and can hit you with a bang. I realised that I had to take some immediate action as I was ticking 6 out of 8 markers for burnout. Firstly, I booked some counselling sessions via my work assistance programme; my primary thinking was all the recent turmoil of jobs, childcare, and redundancy etc. was the main cause of my stress. A couple of sessions in, it is helping but it really is just the tip of the iceberg I feel. Next, I took a look at my lifestyle. I’m pretty good at making yoga twice a week and then a gym session but that was just keeping things ticking along and I needed more time to relax each day after work to recover. It’s recommended that you have 90 minutes “internal recovery” during each day, not thinking about work to decompress your mind (go for a walk at lunch etc.) and then at the end of each day some “external recovery” time like exercise or meeting friends. So I try every day to get a walk outside, even if I’m super busy. The ten minutes or so I take to step outside to grab a coffee is worth it for the sunlight and fresh air recharge. I’m also trying to eat a bit more healthily, which is coinciding nicely with hubby’s request to reduce carbs past 5pm. And I’ve started reading again, which is helping my brain to think of other things, which means I've turned the TV off for a bit (I'm not a Love Island fan anyway!). I've also turned off email notifications on my private address, as I was finding it so distracting at work and it was causing undue stress seeing more and more unread emails, when ultimately it didn’t really matter if I saw todays “sale” notification until my train journey home. I have tried the 888 rule; 8 hours work, 8 hours play and 8 hours sleep, but let’s face it, in today’s world that just seems utopian to me. However I am trying get at least a solid 6 hours sleep a night, when my small people allow it. The main thing I'm trying to do is practice gratification. There were nights I would have gone to bed and I just could not turn my brain off. I would lie in bed thinking about work - a meeting, a presentation etc. - that needed attention. I would finally get to sleep hours later and then wake in the night still thinking about that darn PowerPoint – I mean who cares at 3am which font size you have used? So what is gratification? It is about writing down the things at the end of your day that you are grateful for today. A friend and I send our lists to each other every day, and it’s lovely to see how she’s doing too. Other people have a notepad by the bed and write in each evening. Gratification starts to focus your mind on the little things that make you smile each day that you are grateful for. When I started I could only think of 2 or 3 which is fine, but now I try to get to 10 each night and now I can see myself noticing little things throughout each day. The most powerful thing however is that it makes your mind think about those lovely small, happy things from today that you appreciated, and that’s what you are thinking about when you go to sleep. It doesn’t have to be huge things either that you notice. A strangers smile on the tube, a beautiful rose bush in bloom on my walk to the station, being welcomed back from holiday by my local barista are all small things in the last two days which made me happy. So I highly encourage anyone a bit stressed to try this out and write down the little things each day that you make you smile. You will literally go to sleep marinating yourself in happy thoughts and now at least I don’t wake up having cold sweats at 3am about Arial Bold 12.
Addy is a director in risk for a bank in the city, with two young kids, a lovely husband a supportive nanny and 2 mad rescue cats.
Category: A Citymother's Diary