Lessons I learnt during the lock-down to help me curb stress and perform better.
In a post Covid-19 world, boundaries have further blurred between work and personal life with both overlapping thanks to technology and irregular hours. The current scenario has triggered stress, anxiety, and mental illness in many employees in the corporate sector.
I have personally drawn a lot of inspiration from my father. He has consistently kept his mind, body, and spirit in balance by devoting time and attention to each of their well-being. It isn’t something that happens without discipline, determination, and dedication. By inculcating things like learning, exercise, and meditation in one’s daily routine, one achieves harmony, and the outcomes of reduced stress and increased inner peace seem to come effortlessly. Nothing has driven home the need for this inner peace more than the pandemic and the mental, physical and emotional toll it has taken on almost everyone. The epiphany for me was that this race we are in is not a sprint but a marathon, which needs immense planning, practice, and perseverance. Here are a few tips that have helped me find the right balance:
Strive for excellence, not perfection
High achievers build the habit of seeking perfection from a young age. These habits are easier to maintain as a child when life is less complicated and more limited to school, hobbies, etc. In the working world when responsibilities mushroom both at home and in the office, achieving perfection is not really feasible and can be destructive. The healthier option is therefore to strive for excellence and not perfection.
Indeed, the corporate world would not have been able to maintain productivity during the pandemic without the technological advancements of the last decade. Technology has made work efficient and effective but has also created expectations of always being accessible. There is a price one pays for being always available for work, and that usually entails sacrificing personal and family time. Having one’s downtime and living in the present means carving out time for oneself and one’s family without being accessible by phone, email, messages, chat. Creating quality time means playing cricket, going trekking, or cooking a meal together with loved ones. Also, by not reacting to every work update, one builds resilience and a greater sense of control over one’s life.
Exercise and meditate
Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphins through your body. It also helps lift your mood and can even serve a one-two punch by putting you in a meditative state. A big part of achieving balance is also self-care so that one’s body, mind, and soul are refreshed and reenergised. It’s important to dedicate chunks of time each week to exercise, yoga, or meditation.
Identify what’s important for your life
Everyone’s list of what’s most important in their life should reflect personal priorities and these will differ from person to person. Decide to devote quality time to these high priority people and activities. Determine also what needs to be eliminated from your list of priorities. For instance, if internet surfing is turning out to be a time wasting activity, establish rules to keep you on task. Harsh as it may sound, this applies to people as well. Politely limit your interactions with people who are unconstructively making demands on your time.
Don’t assume your habits are set in stone
Examine your habits and ask yourself what changes can you make to make life more meaningful. Focus on activities you are passionate about and value the most. Give others a chance to take up some of the activities that you find stressful or are not competent enough in, for instance, this could be cooking or gardening or in a work context, minuting meetings, or developing sales leads. This will give them a chance to learn something new and free you up so you may devote attention to your higher priorities.
Take baby steps
Diving into the deep end without working your way up is a recipe for disaster. For example, reducing work hours from 80 to 40 per week, starting running from zero to five kilometres a day, or trying to drop 10 kilos in a month! If you are trying to change something or start something new in your life, begin with baby steps and experience some success. Then, build from there.
I wish you success in your journeys and would love to hear the steps you have taken to achieve work-life balance.