Simplify Your Life

Busy is the new black. But that’s not a good thing. We take on new work projects, squeeze in trips to the gym, schedule play dates for our children, plan fundraising events for our side gigs and volunteer at the local soup kitchen. Then when we’re burnt out and frazzled, we don’t understand why we’re stressed and anxious. 

It’s our body’s way of saying, “slow down!” This doesn’t mean we need to overhaul our lives completely, though. Sometimes we just need to stop with the overstimulation and learn to simplify.

Try these six ways to simplify your life:

1. Unplug. With the 24-hour news cycle at the end of our fingertips, we are constantly deluged with disasters, political shenanigans, mass shootings and more all at once. And, according to experts, that’s messing with our mental health. Should you know what’s going on? Of course. We just don’t have to follow everything at every hour. Choose one or two times a day to check the latest headlines or watch a recent broadcast, such as in the morning with your coffee or just before bed.

2. Focus on quality of relationships not quantity. Family, friends, neighbors, even coworkers all enrich our lives. But the pressure we put on ourselves to maintain these relationships can be overwhelming. You’re not required to attend every gala or eat every brunch. When you’re overextended, say no.

3. Get some sleep. Sometimes when we’re unfocused and out of sorts, we just need to press pause and get some shuteye. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try a sleep meditation to relax.

4. Create a peaceful environment. Remember that feeling you get when you’re relaxing on the beach or curled up by a fire in a cabin by the lake? You may not be able to take a trip to Hawaii or go on a Swiss ski holiday, but can create an environment that fosters contentment in your daily life. Put plants in your office or spruce up your house with a new coat of paint—anything that gives you calm.

5. Celebrate personal achievement. Did you take on that challenge just because it’s a challenge or because it’s meaningful to you? Focus your time and energy on tasks in which you find enjoyment, even small ones like learning to play an instrument or finishing that 5,000-piece puzzle; that’s where the real rewards may lie.

6. Check in with your emotions. When we’re stuck on busy, we tend to slip into auto-pilot, burying how we feel. But just going through the motions puts us at greater risk of burnout. The solution: Carve out some time to try journaling to check in with your emotions as often as possible. Ask yourself: What’s making me anxious? What do I find exciting? This will help you better manage how you feel right now, as well as keep your anxiety from spiraling out of control later.

This article first appeared at https://blackhealthmatters.com/2019/10/08/simplify-your-life/.

Black Health Matters will be at Philadelphia’s Holy Cross Baptist Church on Wednesday, Nov. 6, noon–2pm. 1900 N. 63rd Street, Overbrook.
Topic: “Know Your Family Health History”

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