So many people over the years have told me that the key to success is ‘working really hard’. Dedication together with food, water, and sleep are a crucial mix to achieve any goal.
And that is where the advice often ends.
But clocking as many hours as possible is not a recipe for success. It’s a recipe for short-term gain and long-term destruction (Fleming, 2018). Not only do 72-hour weeks contribute towards reducing a person’s dedication, but they also impact negatively on the other important elements of success. If you are working 12-hour days, chances are you are also skipping meals, on a caffeine drip, and not catching enough sleep. Human beings are not made to operate like machines.
Having volunteered for years with GirlGuiding UK, I have watched time and time again as schools put an intense amount of pressure on students to ‘work harder’, ‘do more’, and ‘get better’. But all these students are hearing is ‘I am not good enough’. Is it any wonder 82% students suffer from stress and anxiety (Veiber, 2017)?
Now is the time to refocus. If we chose to look at our successes rather than our failures and acknowledge our efforts over our shortfalls, we can form a positive view on the work that we are committing and recommitting to every single day (Herald, 2014).
“Here’s your protection for whatever comes: Find something to be happy about every day, and every hour if possible, moment-to-moment, even if only for a few minutes.” – Gregg Braden
Mr Braden has it right! The only thing he doesn’t warn us though, is that positivity isn’t easy to achieve. It doesn’t appear over night. Sometimes we need a little boost to help us get through! Science shows that individuals providing themselves small incentives improve their self control and energy, feeling contended, comforted, and cared for. The contrary is also true; when an individual fails to incentivise themselves, they can burn out, becoming depleted and resentful (Rubin, 2014).
This is where I come to my title: Treat Yourself! On the days you are struggling, banging your head against the wall is not going to help. But going out for a brisk walk, having a real cup of coffee (not the instant stuff!), or doing whatever it is you enjoy doing in your ‘me time’ – might! Providing oneself with treats is proven to help maintain healthy and good habits (Rubin, 2014).
I am currently in the midst of revision. Now it is crunch time! Exams are around the corner! I cannot devour enough information quickly enough! That said, spending eight hours a day hunched over books can become monotonous and ultimately demoralising – I have yet to meet someone who loves revision!
So I break up my day with little treats to keep me going; I practice some mindfulness techniques, volunteer, get a manicure, have a cup of hot chocolate (I’m not a fan of coffee!), work on an art project, or even write a blog post! There are millions of different things you can do to help you over a ‘hump’! There is no one-size-fits-all. Keep trying until you find whatever it is that works for you!
I hope whatever it is you choose to be and whatever it is you choose to do to break up your day; you find something that puts a smile on your face!
I have found self-rewarding to be one of the most effective strategies for handling stress. You may have other tips or methods, so please feel free to share them in the comments section!
Stress Awareness Month was launched in April 1992 and has been recognised annually ever since. In this time, we raise public awareness of the causes of stress, negative effects stress can have, and how stress may be relieved. Please share this article or others like it to help others with their battle against stress!