You know the feeling: It’s 10 a.m., you’re jittery from that third cup of coffee, and your mind feels like glue. You’re drained -- physically, mentally and emotionally -- and dispassionate about things that once brought you joy. Motivated? Forget it. Irritable? You betcha. All regards for personal health and well-being? Out the window.
Too often, it seems like exhaustion and achievement go hand-in-hand. But, burn out isn’t a symptom of success: it’s your body’s way of telling you to slow down. Take a page from Henry Ford’s book and remember, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
While that double shot of espresso and second layer of concealer might help you look refreshed, deep, fundamental change takes time. It’s a lifelong investment in yourself and should be treated like one. That’s why we’ve partnered with SK-II to bring you 12 powerful ways to take charge of your destiny and transform your life.
1. Sleep like there’s no tomorrow.
Your body is a machine. A beautiful, authentic and insanely complex machine that needs care and rest. Just like you shut your computer down at the end of each day, so too you should recharge your body and mind each night. Studies show that a good night’s sleep literally cleans your brain of toxins that build up during the day, which is why a full seven-to-eight hours is critical to your physical and mental wellbeing. Work your way up to a full eight hours by getting just 30 minutes more sleep than you’re getting now, whether that’s at nighttime or a midday nap.
2. Think while you eat.
Mindful eating takes practice. Lots of practice. Especially if you’re the kind of person who scarfs down lunch with one hand while responding to emails and phone calls with the other. Mindful eating challenges you to consider the essence of everything you consume -- where it came from, what value it adds to your body, and how it got to your plate. Mindful eating helps you build a healthy, sustainable relationship with food that goes beyond just satisfying hunger. And, studies show that mindful eating can lift your mood, decrease stress, and lead to healthy weight loss and eating behaviors.
3. Skip the caffeine.
Caffeine is a stimulant that directly affects your central nervous system. That’s why an excess of coffee can make your heart race and your head pound. If you’re already feeling anxious, stressed or burned out, a double shot of espresso isn’t a long term fix. Instead, try more natural, long-term solutions like exercise and meditation to feel energized and awake. If you just can’t imagine life without your morning cup of joe, try building a more mindful relationship with coffee. Savor the intense smell and flavor while enjoying it from your favorite mug. Over time you might find the ritual more necessary than the coffee itself.
4. Get (and stay) active.
Movement is a powerful mood-booster and stress-reducer, and has been shown to protect memory and thinking skills. Whether you hop on your bike, go for a short run or do a few minutes of yoga, learn to use movement as a way to relieve stress when you feel it building. Exercising in the morning can help set the pace for the rest of your day -- and sharpen your focus. Not to mention, super successful people tend to work out in the morning. Try getting just 10 extra minutes of moderate activity each day, and slowly work your way up to the recommended 30 minutes daily.
5. Take comfort in silence.
Yeah, we know. Every life transformation article out there preaches the healing powers of meditation, but that’s because it really works. Around 80 percent of doctor’s visits are for stress-related problems. That’s a lot of time and money spent treating issues that could be prevented if we all practiced a little self care through meditation. Meditation can reduce stress, boost immunity, improve sleep and possibly increase happiness. Even just 5 minutes of meditation can brighten your day. Plus, people who meditate actually are more rational and less anxious when confronted with challenges.
6. Follow a healthy skin care routine.
Happy skin is a happy you. And, like anything else, forming healthy skin care habits takes time. The old adage that it takes 21 days to form a habit? Let’s just say consistency, repetition and embracing your new routine will do a lot more for your success and skin than just crossing days off a calendar. That extra layer of concealer might be a quick fix for your tired eyes, but actual skin changes are investments that happen from within. Look for products (and foods) that nourish more than just your complexion. Follow through with a daily and nightly skin care ritual that makes you feel healthy and beautiful, and over time you’ll see the transforming effects transcend your skin and lift your mood.
7. “Starve your ego, feed your soul."
This one is simple: Do things that make you happy. Just because something brings you a sense of achievement doesn’t necessarily mean it fills you with joy. Sure, staying late at work might be productive, but powering through burn out can sometimes prove less constructive than taking some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Buy those shoes you’ve been eyeing, treat yourself to ice cream on your lunch break, or spend all weekend marathoning classic movies. Whatever you choose, do it because it makes you happy, not because it’s something else to mark off your to-do list.
8. Listen to your intuition.
That gut feeling you have when making big decisions? Start listening to it. Our bodies often tell us what we need before we know we need it. Take a nap when you’re tired. Go on a trip if you’re suffering from wanderlust. Ask yourself why something doesn’t quite feel right. Unless you’re a highly intuitive person, listening to your gut takes practice. Step away from whatever is challenging you, get some breathing room and be honest with yourself about your feelings. Chances are you already know what you need -- you just have to slow down to hear it.
9. Mix things up.
Breaking up your routine can be one of the best cures for world weariness. Challenge yourself to do something completely new once a week -- or, if you’re feeling really enthusiastic, once a day. It could be as simple as walking a new route to work or actually starting that blog you always said you would. New experiences open your mind to new ways of thinking and perceiving, which in turn make you happier.
10. Invest in the positives around you.
Building healthy relationships starts with being mindful of whom and what you fill your life with. It can seem daunting to transform toxic relationships in which you've grown comfortable, whether they relate to friends or family, food, work, or even yourself. Reassess your relationships and be mindful about the value they add to your life and well-being. Plus, people who are mindful of their relationships tend to be more confident in their own judgment.
11. Learn something new.
Learning makes us happy. It could also help us live longer, open-minded, and more fulfilling lives. If you want to start small, try something like learning to knit by watching YouTube clips from the comfort of your bed. If you’re thinking big, join a three-month long web design course. Whatever you decide to learn, your brain will thank you for keeping it sharp and young.
12. Start journaling.
Journaling has been shown to relieve stress, boost comprehension, spark creativity, build confidence and encourage you follow through with goals. That’s a whole lot of therapy from one simple task. But don’t put too much pressure on yourself to write every single day. The writing process itself is much more important than how often you physically crack open your journal. Set a timer, give yourself a prompt like “How do I want my day to be?” and jot down everything that comes to mind. Hold yourself accountable to check in a couple of times per week and eventually you’ll crave those weekly writing sessions.
*Disclaimer: Kantar Worldpanel Consumer Panel Data, from Sept 2012 to Sept 2013. Based on consumer panel from China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea.