Stress and burnout present themselves in different ways, including weight gain, irritability, poor sleep and anxiety. Eventually, the emotional exhaustion from feelings of having too little control and too many demands can lead to major health breakdowns.
Before you become the proverbial frog in boiling water, it’s time to make some changes and reclaim control of your life. And yes, changing habits can be daunting, but by arming yourself with a few simple and proven strategies, you can take incremental steps that add up to enormous improvements.
- Decide what one thing MUST change.Pick an area of your life that’s within your control to change (you don’t have to know how yet), that you’re ready to take on, and that will make a big difference in your well-being.
- Create an inspiring vision.Imagine yourself on the other side of breaking free from this shackle. How does it feel to have achieved the contentment and ease without this burden? What’s different about your life? Most of us skip this step and go straight to goal-setting, but a goal without a vision is likely to disappoint.
- Upgrade your identity.When changing habits, it helps to align your identity with the person you’re trying to become. For example, if you want to get in shape, identify yourself as a person who moves her body every day. When you inevitably fall off the wagon, the old habits will feel like an anomaly that’s out of sync with who you are, and you’ll likely do better next time.
- Establish systems of support.Don’t try to do it alone. Set yourself up for success with whatever support and resources you need. For example, if your goal is to get more exercise and feel more energized, you can find technical support in the form of an exercise app, or human support from coaches or trainers. You can also seek out support from friends or family members who commit to regular workouts or walks together.
- Find or create time in your schedule.I know, you already have a full plate, and finding time for anything more feels impossible. But thinking in terms of incremental steps can mean fitting new behaviors into daily routines. Say you’re working on lowering your stress. You could choose to do breathing exercises at every red light. Or, fit in 5 minutes of mindful meditation each morning as your coffee brews. If you’re trying to exercise more, take the stairs instead of the elevator. You may have to say no to some non-essential tasks in order to say yes to your ”must-dos.”
- Remove temptation.Anticipate that you’ll have weak moments, and remove temptations that can make them hard to resist. If your goal is to be less distracted and more productive, remove the temptation to read each text or email by closing all non-relevant screens and turning off alerts. Remove social media apps from your phone. Close your door to minimize distractions or interruptions.
- Take note of the rewards you reap.Gradual change isn’t easy to measure, but when you notice ways that new behaviors have taken root, give yourself credit for reaching each milestone. If you’ve wanted to be more present with a loved one and you notice that you and that special someone are having great dinnertime conversations, relish the intrinsic reward you receive.
Bonus tip: Change is daunting. Your brain wants you to stay just as you are, even if that means living a life of regret and poor health. If you want to change anything in your life, you have to trick your brain by sneaking up on your goal with one tiny baby step after another.
What tiny step will you take today?
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Guest Post by:
Denise R. Green is a speaker, writer and executive coach committed to helping people go from burned-out (or blah) to brilliant. After a successful career with Oracle Corporation and Charles Schwab, Denise founded Brilliance Inc., a coaching corporation whose purpose is to unleash human potential. For more than a decade, she and her team have helped thousands of people feel less stressed, and have more ease and fulfillment in all areas of their lives. Her new book, Work-Life Brilliance: Tools to Break Stress and Create the Life & Health You Crave (Brilliance Publishing, April 2017) is about reigniting one’s internal spark. She has also authored the ebooks: Conversations for Brilliance, Influence the Boss, and How to Say No With Grace, Not Guilt. Learn more at BrillianceInc.com.