By Esha Oberoi, founder and CEO of Afea Care Services
We are living in an incredibly overwhelming world at the moment with a global pandemic that is sweeping over our lives.
It was only 6-8 weeks ago that we had major uncertainties whether it was around will there will be enough canned food and toilet paper in the grocery stores or will I be home schooling my kids whilst managing work projects?
Naturally with the number of professional and personal commitments we all hold, these uncertainties are not just overwhelming but also stressful in our lives.
Before I started Afea Care Services, I was working as a Carer and over time I have developed a number self-care routines that I regularly turn to so I can avoid burnout. They have been invaluable for me in my journey.
As long as we live in this physical body in this human state, we are not immune to stress. Stress surrounds us in our everyday lives and in this sometimes over-stimulated world.
We are always switched on and we are not resting enough.
We are in a state of information overload, so we are constantly reacting, rather than living joyfully in the moment. We simply don’t have time to do so.
We have so many thoughts buzzing through our heads that it is hard to distinguish the meaningful, helpful thoughts.
I believe that positive stress comes from having a defined purpose, feeling empowered and living completely in the moment, with a balance of self-care and care for others. This type of stress is important, it comes from a healthy ego and it motivates us to look after ourselves and our society. It gives us enough pressure to want to expand out of our comfort zones and not so much that we break down.
Negative stress on the other hand is lethal.
Stress where you start to feel intense negative emotions is not healthy. Continued stress can have major impacts on all aspects of our beings. Understanding stress and where it comes from will help us keep the balance tipped towards positive stress rather than negative. Negative stress is when our thoughts and emotions become harmful and get in the way of our growth.
You are no longer making considered choices. We can even start to experience our body’s natural fight or flight response to fear and insecurity.
If you recognise you’re feeling this way give yourself some self-care and take time off.
The first step is recognition. If we let negative stress take over, it becomes a part of us and we may forget what it’s like to live without the mental fog forgetting how good it feels when we are functioning in a healthy way.
Admit that self-care isn’t selfish, it’s essential. Accepting this can be a challenge for a lot of people. My philosophy has always been that I have to care for myself. If I don’t, I am not useful to anyone, I cannot care for anyone. Once you come to terms with this, you can start to practice self-care and self-love which in turn, will open your heart more to those around you.
I look after the different aspects of myself equally: mind, heart, soul/spirit and my physical body. These are my top outlets for reducing burnout, healing and cleansing:
I do a lot of journaling. Putting pen to paper helps clearly map out your thoughts and emotions and provides clarity in your situation. Taking this time to sit seriously with your thoughts can have a huge positive impact on your mental health.
Start to dissect the stress you’re feeling. Where is it coming from? Is it my own stress? Am taking on someone else’s stress? I find many times when I am speaking to my friends that they will share some aspects of their life that is really stressing them out and when we start to dig deeper, we realise that it isn’t even their stress! It is the stress they are carrying for something their parents, their partner or their child is going through. They feel obliged to accept it as their own stress. This is something I used to do for a long time, because it is how we are programmed.
If we look at this rationally, it doesn’t make any sense. I know it’s really hard to practise this without feeling like you don’t care or aren’t being compassionate. This simply is not true. I have found myself more empathetic, caring and compassionate without the energy of the drain by accepting another’s person’s stress as my own.
I have been meditating now for 5 years and my daily meditations are an hour long, without compromise. If I’m really pressed for time, I will divide it into 2 sessions of 30 minutes each.
Out of all of the self-care routines, dieting, boot camp, trips to the salon, it is by far the cheapest (it’s free) method self-care that we know of, it’s pure bliss.
One hour might seem daunting to sit alone if you have never tried mindfulness. I started with 3 minutes a day, then 5 minutes a day. Over the months I found the time increased naturally because I loved it so much. I experienced peace. Not borrowed or taken from anyone. It is in us. In our hearts and in our connection with ourselves, our deeper selves.
Not only does mindfulness connect us with our minds, but in the silence, I have been able to also become closer to my hearts desires. In the stillness I get a lot of clarity in my thinking and decision making. It also allows us to connect our hearts and minds and truly feel into what is bringing us peace or hurt.
I think of mindfulness as being like the ocean, when near the shores the water is rough and mixed with sand so it becomes murky. As you go in deeper, the water is still and clearer. When go deeper into ourselves we can access the same clarity and free ourselves from the murkiness left behind. This is from the philosophy and teachings of Buddhism.
Finally, enjoy the little things
During this tragic pandemic we are experiencing, I’ve also found time to be grateful. I’m learning from COVID-19 that is that simplicity is key. We overcomplicate our lives with so many things. Whilst living in lockdown I realise that we can live quite simply without the need for such extravagance. For example, I have replaced going to the gym and yoga studios with discovering the neighbourhood with my family on walks.
We don’t need to travel for hours or push ourselves to make appointments and social gatherings to be fulfilled. I’ve rediscovered living simply and how much peace comes from the release of expectations we place on ourselves.
Stay safe and take this time to truly get to know yourself and adopt some quick self-care techniques!
Check out our blog Mindfulness 101 for tips on how to start meditating.