Don't struggle on: check in and check out

Do you…

  • have a work email that you access on a home device?
  • sleep in the same room with the device that delivers the work email?
  • open work-related emails and documents in your ‘off’ time?
  • doze off to sleep or wake up in the night thinking about work?
  • look at your phone before saying hello to your partner in the morning?

Although you might not always think it, these actions blur the line between work and rest, increasing our stress levels when we should be relaxing.

An ‘always on’ culture

Now, I'm not saying that we shouldn’t ever bring work home, but it needs to be carefully managed. Letting work invade all areas of our life lets stress seep in too, and the reality of stress is that we often don’t talk about mental health until it’s past the point of help. A third of us will suffer increased anxiety, stress or mental health issues within our lifetime, and yet we often choose to struggle on until we are forced to ask for help.

So, how can we keep stress under control?

Check in & check out

Our body is our support vehicle: if we don’t have it we don’t exist. If we neglect ourselves, we’re letting ourselves down.

We must start by checking in with ourselves: understanding our physical and mental beings. Work on being in the present and enjoying the moment, whether that’s through daily journalling, meditation or breathwork. Get good sleep, nutrition and hydration, exercise regularly and, importantly, establish strong boundaries by scheduling work time into your home life when absolutely necessary, rather than allowing yourself to be ‘always on’.

Recognising our aspirations and setting goals that work towards these, as well as creating positive new habits, helps us to feel better about ourselves. Yes, there are external things, out of our control, that can affect our happiness, but we can always strive to improve our life by checking in on ourselves on a regular basis.

Embrace change

Often, especially as we get older, we find ourselves adverse to change. We are creatures of habit: we like to follow routines and create a safe, secure environment for ourselves.

We can obviously choose to continue like that, if we wish. But, if we want to make our lives as rewarding as possible, we should embrace change. It forces us to reassess our direction, to live outside of our comfort zone and find better ways to move forward. It can open us up to new possibilities which, in turn, can bring us even more fulfilment.

And being in a good place ourselves means we are then able to check out, and support, the well-being of those around us.

Nicky Forster had a professional football career spanning over 20 years, playing a total of 721 professional games and scoring 221 goals for eight teams. He represented England at U21 level, playing alongside David Beckham and Phil Neville, and also managed Brentford FC. He now spends his time as a keynote/motivational speaker, and at The Spot Wellness Centre in Godstone. 

Nicky Forster

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