If you're like me, you're probably running out of gas when it comes to working remotely. While it's convenient because you can roll out of bed and log into work, the lines have become very blurred between work and home. You end up working way more hours because there is no commute or true lunch hour to break up the day, and you can work until late at night and just get back into bed. Worst of all, your day is filled with back-to-back Zoom meetings where people don't know how to use the unmute button or chat function effectively. (How are they STILL struggling?)
After eight months of this routine, burnout may be starting to creep in. If you're wondering what you can do to better manage those feelings of exhaustion and overwhelm, I've got you covered! Here are some key tips that can help you stay energized:
1.Create calendar boundaries.
Don't go straight from your bed to your desk and log on to your laptop. Block time at the beginning of your day to have breakfast, work out, or just breathe. Don't answer any emails or schedule any meetings during that time. If someone seeks to schedule over your time, provide them with an alternate time block. If you're someone who needs to work late, block some time in your afternoon as well to ensure you're breaking up your day, giving your body and eyes a break, and you can refresh your brain before hopping back into it. You will not be able to work at your peak performance (or enthusiasm) level if you're working for 8+ hours without coming up for air.
2.Prioritize your work schedule.
You don't have to get ALL the things done at the same time. Speak with your manager to understand what work truly needs to be done and when. Understand what decisions are being driven by the tasks you're doing so you can put those items to the top of the to-do list. For the other items that are "nice-to-haves" but not essentials, you can put them lower on the priority list and get to them later. Prioritizing will allow you to better manage your workday so you can create balance and not unnecessarily overwork yourself.
3.Begin taking real lunch breaks.
Don't just hurriedly throw something in the microwave and continue multitasking. Block your calendar for your lunch hour, and actually go eat elsewhere. Sit at your kitchen table or on your patio. If your favorite lunch place is open for pickup, physically go and get your order (socially-distanced with a mask of course!) Take that time to rest your eyes from computer and phone screens and just enjoy the break.
4.Analyze your work schedule, and ask for something more flexible.
You may have heard this saying before: "We have not because we ask not." If you take an inventory of your work day, and you realize how it's currently scheduled is keeping you stressed and unproductive, ask your manager if there is an opportunity to modify your work times. Can you start later or earlier? Will that impact your deliverables or clients/work groups you serve? If the answer to both questions is "no", there is no reason why you can convert to a more flexible arrangement.
5.Get up and get ready.
Make the choice some days to get out of bed a little earlier, shower and get fully dressed. Put on a full face of makeup and style your hair as if you were going out to the office. It seems simple, but this tactic can help you to feel refreshed and break up the monotony of being a workhouse in pajamas. You feel that extra burst of energy when you're dressed like a boss.
6.TAKE YOUR VACATION TIME!
If you have skipped over all my other tips, please read this one. Many of us have justified not taking vacation this year because we're in quarantine and can't REALLY go anywhere safely. But the fact is, you have PTO/vacation time for a reason. Just because you aren't physically going into the office doesn't mean you don't need a break away from work. And you don't have to justify taking your earned or allotted time off. It's part of your benefits package for you to use to its full extent. Even if you aren't ready to take a full week off or anything, just give yourself a day or two to relax. No work calls, emails, meetings, nothing. Just time for you to rest, relax and recharge.
While working remotely does offer many benefits, if we aren't careful, we may find both our mental and physical health suffering as a result. The major key to successfully managing (or better yet, avoiding) burnout is to prioritize self-care and setting boundaries. You are not a machine. Don't work yourself like one.
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Jada Pinkett Smith is speaking her piece on the status of her marriage with longtime love Will Smith. On the heels of releasing her highly anticipated memoir, Worthy, Jada is gracing the cover of PEOPLE and sharing the truth about her mental health struggles throughout the years, the infamous Oscars slap, and her marriage.
According to the 52-year-old author, though she seemed to "have it all" in life - the riches, the fame, the love, the family, there was a part of her that couldn't escape her past traumas and depression that plagued her early on in her career. "While I was really living the dream, I hit a huge wall — a massive amount of depression. I think that I looked at having outside sources to supplement for the voids that I was feeling inside," she told PEOPLE.
By the time she turned 40, she had encountered her breaking point and spiraled so deeply that she saw no way out for herself aside from death. She went on to say that she heard voices in her head telling her to end her life and that told her of her unworthiness, pulling her deeper into her depression. "I started looking for places, cliffs where I could have an accident because I didn't want my kids to think that their mother had committed suicide.”
Jada credited friends of her son Jaden for putting her on to ayahuasca, a powerful and traditional plant-based brew used for shamanic and healing rituals known for its psychoactive properties. She said partaking in ayahuasca changed her profoundly and "the suicidal thoughts completely went away."
"Ayahuasca helped me, it gave me a new intimate relationship with myself that I had never had before," she told the outlet about her first time taking the psychedelic. Keep reading for more key takeaways from Jada's PEOPLE exclusive.
Jada Pinkett Smith on the status of her marriage to Will Smith:
In what might have been a shocking revelation to most, Jada revealed to the world that she and Will have actually been separated for the past six years, going on seven years. She explained the status of their 26-year marriage to PEOPLE:
“We’re still figuring it out. We’ve been doing some really heavy-duty work together. We just got deep love for each other and we are going to figure out what that looks like for us.”
Jada on how her relationship with Will Smith caused her to abandon her mental health:
As her star in Hollywood was rising thanks to starring roles in projects like A Different World, Jason's Lyric, and Set It Off, Jada revealed that she was taking Prozac and being treated for depression and suicidal ideation. Meeting Will would cause her to develop a false sense of not needing to take care of her mental health.
"Once I met Will, I completely abandoned my mental health. I was so intoxicated by him and our dynamic. I really felt like I'm cured," she said to PEOPLE. "He became the drug."
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images
Jada Pinkett Smith on the self-acceptance her kids have taught her:
“They love every part of me. The level of love, unconditional love that they have for me and their dad. And it's one thing to want to be the person that gives that unconditional love. And then there's, to be the recipient of that.”
For the full cover story and photos, head over to PEOPLE here.
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What if we told you things like chronic pain, brain fog, emotional bluntness, hypervigilance, anxiety, immune system dysfunction, trouble sleeping and relaxing, and feelings of being overwhelmed and hopelessness are all signs of an overactive nervous system? Would it make you take another look at the amount of stress in your life and how you’re going about minimizing said stress?
Well, it should.
Stress is how our bodies respond to pressure, and those same bodies have developed a sophisticated system to cope with it. That sophisticated system is the nervous system. But with all of the stress thrown at us through our work, our relationships, and our lives, it can be easy to understand why stress has become the default setting for so many.
The problem with making stress your default is that your chances of having an overworked nervous system increase. Your body could also enter a state of chronic stress, leading to an overactive “fight or flight” response. Nervous system dysregulation occurs when this response becomes chronic or fails to shut off after the perceived threat is gone and can lead to the body believing it’s in a state of danger at all times.
While the stress response is essential for survival, it's not meant to be active all the time, and an overactive one can lead to various health issues. Stress isn’t called a “silent killer” for nothing. This is due to the influx of stress hormones and high cortisol levels that cause the eventual disruption of major bodily processes and make you more susceptible to depression and anxiety, among other health problems.
Leading a truly healthy lifestyle is the difference between an overworked nervous system and a calm one. The latter is a crucial aspect of maintaining overall well-being, and it can positively impact your healing and wellness journey because you can’t really heal in a body that’s chronically stressed. As “the father of mindfulness,” Thích Nhất Hạnh once said, “Stopping, calming, and resting are preconditions for healing.”
A calm nervous system can be achieved through resetting your nervous system, just follow the practices below consistently with care.
How To Reset & Heal Your Nervous System
Deep breaths can work wonders in a stressful situation. Spend a few minutes each day focusing on your breath, practicing mindfulness, and calming your mind. The reason deep breathing is such a powerful tool to usher in calm is that it activates the other part of your nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
Unlike your SNS and its stress hormone-filled “fight or flight” response, the PNS functions in a way that is opposite but complementary to the SNS and is responsible for “rest and digest,” a response that occurs when the body is at rest. Deep breathing techniques, such as diaphragmatic breathing, box breathing, and alternate nose breathing, can also help reduce stress. As an added bonus, it’s also one of the quickest ways to calm an activated nervous system.
2.Embrace the Chill of Cold Therapy
So, what's up with cold therapy? Well, it all starts with the body's response to cold exposure. Cold exposure also helps reduce the production of stress hormones like cortisol, helping the nervous system relax. Its benefits also include reducing inflammation, improving sleep, and enhancing your mood, among other things. One of the most popular forms of cold therapy is ice baths.
The rush of sensations the body feels, along with the calming effects it creates as you adjust to the exposure to the cold, is just one of the reasons those who avidly partake in ice baths turn it into a mindfulness practice. That and the way cold therapy supports a calm nervous system. Cryotherapy is a more accessible, less immersive form of cold therapy that gives you all the benefits in a fraction of time and energy.
Whether you opt for an ice bath, cryotherapy, or simply a refreshing cold shower, cold therapy is a cool (pun intended) way to quiet an activated nervous system.
3.Forest Bathe in Nature or Go on a Hike
Immerse yourself in the sights, scents, and sounds of nature through the act of forest bathing. Forest bathing encourages you to be fully present in the moment. The idea is to slow down, be present, and truly experience the forest. Instead of worrying about the past or future, you're focused on the rustling leaves, the scent of pine needles, and the feel of the earth beneath your feet. This mindfulness helps reset your nervous system and reduces anxiety.
Disconnect from technology and reconnect to the world around you. As you walk, engage your senses. Notice the colors, textures, and scents around you. Listen to the sounds of birds, leaves rustling, and water flowing. Inhale the pure forest air. Remember that nature is magic. Bathe in the calming magic of the forest’s tranquility.
Grounding, also known as earthing, is a simple yet powerful practice that involves connecting with the Earth's energy. Grounding involves physically touching the Earth's surface - think walking barefoot on grass, soil, or sand. When you do this, your body absorbs electrons from the Earth, which can help neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation. This electron exchange has been shown to have a positive impact on various aspects of our health, including our nervous system.
Grounding has been found to reduce the production of stress hormones like cortisol. Start your day with your bare feet on the ground in your backyard, the woods, a park, or a garden. Remember, grounding doesn't require any special equipment or a specific location. It's all about being present and feeling the Earth beneath you.
5.Eat Your Omega-3s
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are fantastic sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which is often linked to anxiety and stress. Omega-3 fatty acids also have a central role in nervous system development as well as its repair.
So, swap your peanut butter out with some walnut butter, sprinkle flaxseeds onto your salads, or add chia seeds to your yogurt or morning smoothie – your taste buds and your nervous system will thank you.
6.Tap Into Emotional Freedom with EFT Tapping
EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Techniques, and it's often referred to as "tapping." This technique combines ancient Chinese acupressure with modern psychology to help you release emotional stress, calm your nervous system, and promote overall well-being. It's like a magical blend of science and self-care.
So, how does it work? Well, it's surprisingly simple. You use your fingertips to tap on specific points on your body while focusing on a particular issue or emotion that's bothering you. These points are along meridian lines, which are pathways of energy that have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries.
When you tap on these energy points, you're sending calming signals to your brain. It's like giving your amygdala (the brain's fear center) a gentle reminder that you're safe and sound. This reduces the production of stress hormones like cortisol and activates your body's relaxation response.
7.Book That Massage
Massages stimulate the release of feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine while reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This hormonal shift leads to lowered anxiety and an overall sense of well-being. Massages stimulate your PNS. Your “rest and digest” response takes over, and your mind and body are transported to a place of balanced calm.
Beyond the immediate relaxation, regular massages can have profound long-term effects on your nervous system. They can improve your sleep quality, boost your immune system, and even help manage chronic pain conditions. Try to have one at least once a month to see the best results.
8.Exercise, But Make It Gentle
Incorporating gentle exercise into your daily routine can be a game-changer to soothe your nervous system, helping you achieve that sense of calm and balance you're aiming for. Gentle exercise acts as a natural stress reliever. It reduces the production of stress hormones like cortisol, making you feel more relaxed.
Gentle exercise looks like low-intensity exercises. Think yoga, stretching, Tai Chi, and Qigong that don't require a huge time commitment. A quick morning yoga session or an evening stroll can do wonders for your nervous system.
9.Sing & Chant
Singing and chanting are wonderful practices that can have a soothing and calming effect on your nervous system. It's a therapeutic tool for anyone seeking relaxation. When you sing, you engage various muscles, including those in your diaphragm and abdomen. This deep breathing is similar to the controlled breaths of yoga or other forms of breathwork, instantly signaling your nervous system to calm down.
Chanting is like a rhythmic meditation that combines sound, breath, and intention. It has been practiced for centuries in various cultures and spiritual traditions, including Buddhism and Hinduism.
10. Connect With Your Community
Our brains are wired for connection, no matter where you are in the world. When we interact with others in meaningful ways, our ability to recover from depression, anxiety, and stress improves, and so does our quality of life. The journey toward a calm nervous system is intertwined with the power of social connections.
Opting for in-person meetups over lengthy texts or calls for at least one person in your friend group once or twice a month could be an effective way to prioritize social connection. So, don't hesitate to nurture those relationships, cultivate connections with new people, and share some laughter with your loved ones. It's all part of the recipe for inner peace and well-being.
One of the most famous chants is the "Om" mantra. When you chant "Om," you're not just making a sound; you're tapping into a universal vibration. This resonance can help synchronize your brain's hemispheres, leading to a sense of inner harmony and relaxation. It's like a reset button for your mind and body.
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