Almost from the beginning of this project, people would visit the farm and tell me I was crazy to take on so much work. I would show them around, waving my arms enthusiastically while I showed them spaces with crumbling walls and dirt floors that would one day be venue spaces or bedrooms. Thank goodness their view of it all was not my view!
Today, now that all the construction is completed, there are still people who tell me I am crazy – but now the ‘craziness’ is that it must be so hard to manage this retreat centre and farm. Why would I take on so much work, they ask. Most of the time I am delighted with my life and the business, but when I start to feel stressed, inevitably it is their words I remember, not the many more who tell me how much they love it here and who express deep gratitude for the space.
Overwhelm causes me to second-guess myself and wonder if I was indeed crazy to take all this on. Sometimes it feels really hard!
What do I do to pick myself up and keep going?
I have fine-tuned five powerful ways to blast through the doubts and get myself back on track:
Change Your Routine
When I am feeling particularly low, I focus on the routine everyday tasks that we all need to do, but I change small things. I brush my teeth using the other hand. I take a different route to work (yes, even here – I walk a different route to my office 😀). I go to a different shop for my groceries. You see, often when we are feeling sad or low, our thoughts are not helping us at all: we are often stuck in a loop of negative thinking about something, telling ourselves a story that keeps us down. By changing habits, it breaks the thought pattern and new thoughts can come forward. When this happens, we have the mental and emotional space to move onto the next step.
The Rule of 10
Write down 10 things that you are grateful for, right now. We know we should keep a gratitude journal, but we hear it so often that it seems like old news. Do it anyway: gratitude is the best way to shift your energy. It helps you to reframe what is happening, and brings you into even more space and openness in your mind and heart. When you have finished writing those 10 things down, if you don’t feel lighter, write down another 10 things that you are grateful for.
Shower Your Insides
Drink lots of water. If your body is short of water, it is hard to think clearly and your body struggles to produce serotonin, one of the feel-good hormones that help us to calm our minds. Dehydration also reduces the levels of other important amino acids in your brain, which can lead to feelings of anxiety, sadness, irritability, and a sense of not feeling good enough. I have started downing two glasses of water as I wake, which gives me a head start on getting the right amount of daily hydration.
Take Off Your Shoes
Walking barefoot is a game changer for lifting your energy and your mood, as this grounding exercise shifts you immediately out of your head and into your body. If you live in an apartment and don’t have easy access to nature, this will still work.
Grounding hack for apartment living: sit in a comfortable chair with both of your bare feet on the ground. Closing your eyes, focus on your breathing for a few rounds, then on each body part, working your way up from your feet to your crown. Now visualize yourself outside with your feet in the grass, or in a stream – or wherever your favourite place is to be barefoot outside. Imagine the sounds, smells, sights, everything.
The very cool thing is that your brain does not know if you are truly outside standing in squishy mud, or not. You can still receive the benefits of connecting to nature.
When I am feeling low, very often that is exactly when I most need to meditate. I have a daily meditation practice, but inevitably my times of overwhelm are exactly when I have not been meditating for a while. Life and busyness happen to us all, and when I miss this time of internal regulation and mental calm, self-doubt strikes.
I have a life soundtrack playing for myself in my head, as if my life is a movie (so much fun to do this! – let me know if you do the same thing) but when my routine is disrupted and my meditation stops for a few days, my background music is replaced by the negative mental chatter which brings on the overwhelm. So I play music for myself and sit with the music and my breath, just allowing the moment to be, letting the thoughts flow in and out, while always coming back to my breath and back to the music.
“Music comes closest to meditation. Meditation is the art of hearing the soundless sound, the art of hearing the music of silence – what Zen people call the sound of one hand clapping. And silence has a music of its own, it is not dead… nothing is more alive than silence.”~Osho
Enjoy these easy stress-busting hacks, and feel free to share yours with me.