I was asked recently to give a talk to BizMums. For those who don’t know, BizMums is an organisation which grew in response to mothers who are self-employed and wished to connect with other working mothers to grow and develop their businesses. Up until this point, I had never attended a meeting, although I have friends who are actively involved; and despite their prods and pokes I never actually made it to a meeting. That was until I was asked to speak. I gave a talk about mindset, not just about getting and keeping a motivated and positive mindset for business, but also for life.
At first I did not think I was the right person to be delivering this kind of talk, and then as I thought more deeply about it and reflected upon my own experiences, I discovered that I was very much qualified in this area. Not just from my experience of being a counsellor and mindfulness teacher, but (and perhaps more importantly) from having been close to being burnt out and exhausted myself.
We often do not realise that we are experiencing extreme stress, as the need to work harder, push harder, go further is so ingrained. It’s as if we believe that if we keep going we would get through to the other side more quickly and unscathed. In order to achieve this we might start eating lunch whilst answering the phone or emails, we may even skip lunch altogether as we don’t have time. When we get home we may be so exhausted that we stop doing our usual activities such as choir or socialising with friends; preferring to stay at home and have an extra glass of wine or a few more squares of chocolate-or both!
Stress is insidious-it creeps up on us without us necessarily noticing until we are quite far in. Our partners or colleagues may notice changes in our behaviour, that perhaps we are more short- tempered and we might notice that we are not sleeping very well. Or there may be changes to our skin (blemishes or dry patches), weight (gain or loss) or bowel movements (loose or constipated). Because we feel so overwhelmed, we might overlook these things or not connect them to being related to stress.
It feels counter-intuitive to take breaks (coffee or lunch for example or even to take your holiday allowance) when the pressure is on. However taking breaks is exactly what we need to do! Neuroscience and neuro-imaging is showing us that our brains are unable to focus on more than one thing at a time. Multitasking leaves us exhausted and our brain frazzled. Therefore doing one task at a time will lead to less fatigue (and less mistakes thereby saving you time) and taking regular breaks gives your brain the opportunity to rest that it needs so that it can come back more creative and productive. For now though, lets see if we can….
….RECLAIM THE LUNCH BREAK!!