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.
1. 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 wellbeing.
2. 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.
4. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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?
By Denise R. Green, a speaker, writer, and executive coach committed to helping people go from burned-out (or blah) to brilliant. Her new book is Work-Life Brilliance: Tools to Break Stress and Create the Life & Health You Crave.