How Co Founder Alex Prioritises Her Wellbeing During Busy Seasons of Life
August 31, 2022
There are definitely seasons of life that feel more chaotic than others right? I’m talking about the weeks with very little white space left in your planner. The weeks with overflowing to-do lists that inevitably flow onto the next week and the week after that.
With my wedding and our diaries launching 8 days apart, I’m currently in one of those seasons and I have noticed how quickly I revert back to dangerously prioritising productivity over my wellbeing when I am strapped for time.
Now let me just say, it pains me to admit that because it goes against everything I stand up for everything this brand is about.
But it happens. And I know I’m not the only one this happens to.
I know that for many of us, the first thing we cast to the side is ourselves. When our plates are full, it feels unrealistic to prioritise our wellbeing over the long list of things we need to do, right?
But it’s during those crazy busy and chaotic seasons of life that you need to ramp up your self-care so that you have the fuel, the energy, the spirit, to keep going.
So, I want to share four small but powerful steps I’ve taken to prioritise my physical and mental wellbeing so that you can do the same.
Remove work-related apps from my phone.
The first work-related thing I ever removed from my phone was my work email and that was a game changer in itself but there were still a couple of work-related apps, like slack and notion that I hadn’t deleted until last week.
Here’s why it was problematic. We use Slack and Notion to communicate with our team and manage projects. Our designer lives in France which means her work day starts basically when mine ends. Whenever I’m waiting to hear back from her or when I’m waiting for a work in progress design to review, I feel tempted to check Slack, even when I’ve logged off for the day—even when I’ve told myself that it’s time to wind down—even when I know my brain needs to switch off.
I realised that the convenience of having these apps at my fingertips actually hindered my ability to switch off and be present with my family. Giving in to that urge and temptation meant turning on my work brain and depriving myself of that wind down time.
So, in a quest to protect my wellbeing and honour my work boundaries, I removed Slack and Notion from my phone. No more checking work in progress pdfs at 8pm at night.
I want you to check in with your after-work habits.
Do you check your emails after you’ve finished work for the day?
Do you have work-related apps that you feel tempted to check on the weekend?
If, like myself, you want to create a more effective barrier between you and work so that you can actually enjoy your downtime, I highly encourage you to delete those apps from your phone.
Stop relying on willpower because willpower just isn’t a reliable strategy. It varies from day to day depending on your energy levels, depending on your mood.
Instead, think about the one off actions that you can take to protect your wellbeing, like deleting the apps you feel dangerously drawn to constantly check.
Keep the morning alarm out of reach.
For me, 7am is the optimal time for a workout.
Anything later than that means that I would have probably started working and if I’m in a creative flow, I probably won’t want to disrupt that flow.
Bottom line, if i don’t work out in the morning, the likelihood that I’ll do so later in the day significantly drops.
I know that when I don’t work out or prioritise movement, I feel sluggish and tired. When I move my body, I feel more energetic. I feel stronger and it sets me up for the rest of the day.
Now, all because I’ve discovered that 7am classes work best for me doesn’t mean that I roll out of bed easily. That is why I keep the morning alarm out of reach.
I have a 6:25am alarm that goes off for Pilates 3 days a week. I don’t actually use my phone in the bedroom anymore. I use Tom’s. His phone sits on our chest of drawers—inaccessible to both Tom and I—which means whoever has set the alarm has to physically get out of bed to stop it.
I don’t know about you, but I have snoozed many alarms in my day, so this little trick serves me so well when I want to stick to my workout routine and reap the benefits of moving my body in the morning.
You might be thinking... I don’t like working out in the morning, It’s not for me. That's perfectly okay. Let this prompt you to think about the optimal time to move your body.
Is it in the middle of the day?
Do you prefer using a workout to break up your day?
Maybe it’s in the evening after work?
It’s so important to honour those natural preferences because when you honour those natural preferences, it becomes easier to stick to a routine.
Embrace the silent commute.
More often than not, I will listen to a podcast or an audiobook or even some music while I’m driving. Some days call for a pump-me-up, sing at the top of your lungs kind of energy. Sometimes, I need that. Other times, driving in silence feels more comforting, rejuvenating and restful.
These chaotic seasons already bring with it so much noise and stimulation. Life is loud, right? So it’s so nice to consciously turn down the volume when you can and settle back into the present moment, slow down and give your brain a break.
In fact, research studies confirm that time spent in silence can help calm racing thoughts, lower blood pressure, reduce cortisol (your stress hormone), stimulate creativity, and improve insomnia just to name a few.
Last week, I drove to pick up my wedding dress and it was a 90 minute round trip and I noticed how much calmer I felt driving in silence. It was the mental downtime I desperately needed.
While you may feel an impulse to fill the silence or make your drive more productive with an audiobook or a podcast, I urge you to check in with yourself and consider if some quiet time and peace of mind is actually what you need right now.
Take deep breaths all. the. time.
When we are busy, rushing around, ticking things off our overflowing to-do list, we tend to hold our breath and take quick, shallow breaths because the stress and adrenaline we feel distracts us from being mindful about our breathing.
But shallow breathing keeps you trapped in this dangerous cycle of stress. Your stress causes shallow breathing and your shallow breathing causes more stress.
So what’s the alternative? Deep breaths. When you take a slow inhale through the nose and a big, long exhale, you are signalling to your brain and body that you are safe. It is the quickest, easiest and most effective way to calm your nervous system.
When your mind is racing, focus on making your exhales longer than your inhales. This helps to slow down your heart rate and your thoughts. Consider keeping this simple breathing exercise in your back pocket. Breathe in slowly through your nose to the count of 3, then exhale through the mouth to the count of 6.
Now, I’m not going to lie and say this was not an easy habit to build. It’s taken me years to become more mindful of my breathing, but I can certainly vouch for the physical and mental health benefits.
Here are some helpful tips from Headspace to help you practise breathing from your your belly, instead of your chest:
Lie on your back with one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Breathe in deeply while pushing out your stomach as far as you can. The hand on your stomach will move out and the hand on your chest will remain still. When you exhale, you will feel your stomach pulling back in. Both your chest and shoulders should stay relaxed and still.
The more you practice, the easier it will get. Practice on your commute to work, at the traffic lights, while you wait for the kettle to boil, when you’re waiting in line.
Those micro moments of self-care are everything when you feel strapped for time, so take those moments, luxuriate in them, and I promise your mind and body will thank you for it.