Stop setting yourself up for failure

March edition / By Camilla / March 2, 2023

A conversation I have with a lot of clients is HOW TO REDUCE STRESS, and the effects of stress in their life. We are all different, which means that we react differently to the daily stressors. What is certain though, is that our bodies are reacting, one way or another. 

These clients might have come to yoga therapy because their bodies have started to complain. For some it’s an autoimmune condition (flaring up), or reoccurring digestive issues, troubles falling asleep/waking up too early.

For others, the toll of constantly being ‘on’, keeping busy, being efficient and getting things off their never-ending to-do list, leads to more mental/emotional/energetic issues, sometimes also to burnout. 

Things as feeling low/blue for extended periods of time, being more forgetful ‘than normally’, having a short temper ‘all-the-time’ with loved ones (I can for sure relate to this), or always feeling tired. 

To learn more about the STRESS RESPONSE of our nervous system, and the difference of being stressed – have a look at this video where I explain what it means. 

Start building in buffers

A book I re-read is Essentialism, by Greg McKeown. I’ve had many insights, and learnt life-hacks from this book. Every time I read it, I learn something new, or get a deeper understanding. 

One concept I’ve integrated into my life over the past years is to ‘build in buffers’. Let me explain what I mean, and how it has had an impact for me. 

Back in my corporate days, I too, had lots of days with back-to-back meetings. The more things that were squeezed into the day, the more stressed and frustrated I felt at the end of the day. I think this was the first time I read the book. 

On days where I had some time between my meetings/appointments, I noticed that I felt more calm and able to handle my stress (my temper) a whole lot better. I started to experiment with this, more and more. At the time I worked as project manager for a large project, doing thescheduling, and organising most of the meetings.

Instead of squeezing in as many meetings as possible, I started building in some buffers in my day, in between the meetings (when possible). Not having as many (if any at all) back-to-back meeting, but instead tried to have 15-30 minutes in between. 

That way, when a meeting ended up taking a few minutes extra, I would still able to be in time for the next. When someone needed to talk to me after a meeting, I had a few minutes before getting into the next one. 

At the end of the day, I felt less stressed, and more calm. 

I keep using this in my work (and life) today. For instance, when I schedule a yoga therapy session, I plan a buffer of time before (to prepare) and time afterwards (to not have the next client ringing the door, before the first has left). 

This way of working keeps my stress levels way down, even when a client might arrive earlier than scheduled, or when a client gets stuck in traffic on the way to our session. I know I have my buffer (within reason of course), and can still do our session as planned, without impact on the rest of the day. 

Set yourself up for success

To reduce our experience of stress, we can focus on setting ourselves up for success, rather than failure. Again, this will be different for different people, but in my experience of working with clients, a few areas seem to be more common. 

For me personally, it’s creating a buffer of time for when things don’t go according to plan. I know myself well enough by now, and when I feel stressed, I’m more easily annoyed, less pleasant to be around, and much less creative. All of which makes me a less good yoga therapist (and person). It is not how, and who, I wish to be. 

Instead of planning, and expecting, things (or people for that matter) to go (be) perfect, plan a bit of buffer-time. It is an investment in yourself, and for you to show up at your best. 

A lot of my clients seem to resonate with this as well. When they create a bit of buffers of time here and there in their (working) week, they feel more relaxed, less overwhelmed.

For other clients, it’s about manage to reduce their (unreasonable) expectations on themselves, and what they are actually handling in one single day. Being highly efficient, and productive, often holding down a fancy/high-level job. Together with a never-ending to-do list. People like this often end up feeling overwhelmed, and frustrated. For them, keeping a done-list can make a huge difference. 

Having a done-list, shows just how much has actually been accomplished. Instead of the negative feelings of overwhelm, and not being good enough, it can be quite the game-changer. Leaving the work-day with a feeling of accomplishment, instead of feelings of failure.

Setting yourself up for success when going through (cancer) treatment is of course something entirely different. Often during lengthy treatments, energy levels goes up & down, together with motivation. Depending on the day-to-day energy/motivation might in these cases not be the best.

Small things can be, such as, on days with good energy, make sure to cook extra portions of food to keep in the freezer, to not have to prepare food on days with low energy. Or perhaps to ask a close friend to come & cook for you, meaning both dinner and nice company in one go. 

How can you use this concept of ‘setting yourself up for success’ more often, in big and small areas of your life?! Begin to experiment…

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.”

Here you can read the FEBRUARY edition'This could potentially save your life'