Do you ever have times in your life when completing a simple task seems stressful?
Throughout my life, I have found I go into these cycles where life does seem impossible.
I struggle with doing my laundry, repairing things around the house or washing my car. The task is simple, however, in my head, I experience a block. A mental block that convinces me the ability to accomplish that task is not possible at that moment. These mental blocks for me occur when my stress levels are high.
When I reflect on the last 12 months, I was definitely in was of these cycles.
I was experiencing a variety of things that lead me to believe the simple was impossible. It was though I could only see one way of doing things and any other possible options were behind an invisible wall.
For example, I was focused on finding more ways to help adults with improving their mental state and getting to the heart of what truly matters to them. I had a bunch of ideas on how to do this such as speaking at companies, hosting online presentations, posting on social media, teaching a course one evening a week, creating workshops to do jointly with other experts, group coaching and 1-on-1 sessions.
Exercising went downhill
Here is the thing, over time I stopped exercising regularly. For me, exercise is a key tool to help me reduce my stress and ultimately my anxiety. Then guilt would set in. Here I am trying to teach people how to overcome their anxiety and I am not fully practicing the things I am teaching. The ongoing awareness of this made finding time to go to the gym seem more challenging. My schedule was quite flexible and finding 30 to 60 minutes to exercise wasn’t hard. I sure made it seem like it was.
Now I have no time to get to the gym
To top things off, I was not obtaining the number of clients I was hoping to so I realized I need to find additional work. This meant my schedule went from lots of flexibility to working set hours at an office Monday to Friday.
I have a young family and my focus as a parent is to be there for my kids and my wife to see them after work, help with meals, bedtime, homework, etc. It can feel hard to get time for myself when ensuring my family is taken care of.
I also was feeling the loss of having to change the vision of my coaching practice and shift to helping people part-time for a while.
Through my self-reflection, I can see how I was caught up in the stress of the change happening and all the responsibilities in my life.
I knew exercise would help relieve my stress and knock down the invisible wall that was blocking new ways of viewing the situation. I was constantly telling myself throughout the day things like, I need to go to the gym, how am I ever going to find time to exercise?
Sugar craving goes way up
The other thing that happens to me when I am stressed is I start eating more sweets. It is a consistent signal for me that my stress is high when throughout the day and especially after dinner I need chocolate or ice cream. I know it is a signal yet I found myself eating the sugar anyway.
I have always had a bit of a sweet tooth. Over time, what I became more aware of is the intensity of the cravings increasing as my stress and anxiety increase. For example, it would be throughout the day vs after dinner. Plus, every day of the week instead of once or two a week.
To top it off, binge-watching shows up
After diligently working on my personal growth since my early 20’s, I have come to know myself very well. When I am in this mental ruts, I tend to use shows and movies as another avoidance strategy in addition to sugary sweets. Here I am not working out, eating way too much sugar and now I am staying up way too late watching shows I had become attached to on Netflix. I have always enjoyed movies and TV shows. When I get to the point where I am sacrificing my sleep for them, I am avoiding the thing that my body, mind, and soul would benefit from, exercise.
I went back to the basics
While I was experiencing this mental block, I realized I needed to make a change. Something simple to shift what was occurring. One thing that tends to work for me is I reread one of my favorite self-help books or find a podcast from one of my favorite authors. I also will write in my journal even if it was only one sentence just to start moving towards healthier choices.
Yes, I finally went to the gym!
In this particular situation, I was in this funk for about a year which is not normal for me. So I knew I needed to use the situation to change. I remember telling myself if I like these shows so much I should be exercising while watching them and most gyms have Wi-Fi.
About a month ago, there was a Sunday when I realized I had an hour free and told my wife I am going to the gym. It feels comfortable sharing the reality of the situation and I essentially used my anxiety avoidance strategy alongside going to the gym.
Here is the thing, it worked! A few days later I realized I do have time to go for a 30-45 minute workout on my lunch break. Guess what? I went. It felt great afterward.
A week or two later, I was open to another idea of how I could get to the gym. Sometimes, I take my oldest son to hockey practice at 6 am and sit in the cold rink for an hour. There is a gym nearby that opens at 6 am. I could go there and ride the exercise bike plus use the circuit machines.
Holy mental shift!
After exercising a couple of times, I felt my mind clear and the anxiety go down. I was more open to ways to take of physical and mental health. The need to binge-watch shows went down and I listening to education and inspiring podcasts while at the gym. The sugar cravings subsided. I am choosing raw vegetables, fruit, and nuts as snacks again.
You can remove the invisible wall
If you can relate to what I have shared, I want to let you know you can find time to take care of yourself.
You can go for a walk first thing in the morning, you can get to the gym on your lunch break, you can leave your kids with your spouse or friend to spend time exercising. You can be more aware of the unhealthy behaviours that show up when you are stressed or anxious.
It is possible. I know you can do it. I believe in you and you can believe in yourself too. I would imagine there is part of you that knows you can do it. Bring that part into your awareness more. Find a small step you can take. If you want to exercise more, start with a 5-minute walk, go for a 10-minute bike ride, find time on your lunch break or see who can look after your kids.
You can do this. There is creativity living inside of you waiting to be activated to help you with solving you may not have considered. It only takes one small step to bring that creativity to life and enable you to feel more engaged in your life.
Tools and Resources
Online Self Reflection Course
If you are looking for additional tools and resources to help you, you can preview 3 lessons of my online self-reflection course. Click on this link to learn more: Engage Connect Grow Online Program
Engage, Connect, Grow Workbook
You can also find my book, “Engage, Connect, Grow” on Amazon at Amazon Best Seller – “Engage, Connect, Grow”