How To Regain Focus When It Feels Like Your World Is Crashing Down Around You

Today's blog post is of a personal nature. As a fitpro and business owner it’s the expectation that everything you put out there is supposed to be of a positive, let’s-do-this, let’s-smash-this-workout-and-never-put-on-weight-ever-again and I’m-going-to-show-you-how! kind of nature.
People rarely see the human side to you and just assume that your life must be perfect and that there is no end to your strength.

I've written this blog post in part because it seems like a cathartic thing to do and I’ve been told that it helps to talk it out rather than internalising it all. But also to give you an understanding of the person behind the business, and that the struggles I face are just like yours. 

I’m not ready to talk about exactly what is going on with me yet - I have some stuff going on in my personal life that has seen my world go from absolutely fine one day to smashed to smithereens the next with an uncertainty about my future that I have never ever experienced in my 47 years before.
Why can’t disaster strike when you are young enough and energetic enough to take it in your stride? But there’s no point in complaining...because there’s never a good time and the world keeps turning anyway so you just gotta deal I guess.

So the last four weeks now I’ve been functioning at work as per usual - Dynamic Boxing is and has always been my second home, it’s where I feel at ease and in my element and surrounded by people who share my passion for health and fitness. It’s where I feel in control.

But away from Dynamic my personal life it so far out of my control it’s debilitating. I can’t focus. I can’t think straight. I can’t make simple decisions.

Dishes left unwashed for days, clutter building up so high it overshadows my ability to act and to think, it’s hard to even have a shower (sorry if I’ve been smelling a little off lately), I have zero motivation to train and cook and looking after myself has simply gone out the window and when my work day is over I just sit in front of the TV - the Voice looks like it’s going to be good this year - looking for any sort of distraction to stop me thinking about IT.

But this can’t continue. I have to look after myself because as the owner of a fitness business and the mother of an 8 year old, I have to lead by example and stay strong enough to see this through.

So how do I get my focus back? How do I regain control over the controllable bits of my life?

Here’s what I did...and I hope the following 6 tips might be able to help you too if you ever find stress in your life getting the better of you.

On Saturday I did a big...

#1 Clean and Declutter

I had to get rid of the clutter that was a constant source of distraction and anxiety - it’s like everywhere I turned there was a block in the form of clutter that made it hard to work, think and function around.

I strongly believe that clutter causes stress and chaos, not just in our homes, but also in our minds. Decluttering your home frees up space both physically and mentally. It causes further stress and overwhelm at a time when you least need it.

The hardest part for me was starting. I didn’t know where to start. It seemed like the situation had gotten out of hand and had become a challenge too big to tackle.
So to get over this hurdle I made a deal with myself: “I’m going to drink this coffee and when I’m done I will start with the most important room first” - which for me is the study. A tidy and clean study represents a clear and organised brain. So that’s what I did. I drank my coffee and then I got the mop and bucket, cleaning cloths and the old Ajax Spray and Wipe and got down to business. Once I got started I found it was easy to keep going. So I did. For the next 6 hours.

I filled 11 garbage bags full of clutter that either went into the rubbish bin or went to charity. Offloading my son’s old clothes and books into the Coles charity bins felt like a weight being lifted off my shoulders. Binning the rubbish gave me instant relief.

When you don't know where or how to start, I highly recommend starting with this strategy for helping you get your focus back during a stressful time. It really does work.

On Sunday I did...

#2. Food prep

If you’re not familiar with the term, food prep just means cooking in large amounts so you can divide up cooked food into portions in tupperware to provide you with ready meals for the next few days. It also means simply preparing what you can in advance to make life easier. For example, washing my salad greens in the morning makes the salad quicker to prepare at dinner.

The point of food prep is to make your life easier. Honestly, who has the time or desire to cook every meal from scratch every single day? Food prep is just a way to reduce stress around what you are going to eat. Food prep guarantees that no matter what happens in your day-to-day life, you will always have good, clean, natural food to eat. Food that makes your body and mind feel good. 

Without the need to cook today, I can now sit at my desk and concentrate on writing this blog and feel productive and positive.

On Sunday night I planned my Monday..

#3. Plan Your Day or Week In Advance

On Sunday night I sat down and planned out my Monday and wrote it all up on my whiteboard. The whiteboard really works for me because I can put it where I see it often - an A4 sheet stuck on your fridge works just as well - and it’s big and important looking. It’s a way of diarising my day. If I diarise something, it’s like making an appointment, you attach priority to it and are therefore more likely to actually do what needs to be done.
So far so good, I’m on track.

I diarised my exercise for Monday...

#4. Keep Up With Exercise

What do you do when you know exercise helps but it’s the last thing on your mind when your world feels like its crashing down around you?

As hard is it can be, getting your exercise in has a lot of mental and physical benefits. Exercise is a proven stress-buster and mood-enhancer. Exercises produces feel-good chemicals called endorphins which lift your mood and help you feel positive and reduce anxiety. And it’s just good to get out of the confines of your own mind and go be amongst other humans in a healthy environment.

The best advice that I can give here knowing how hard it has been for me lately is again to diarise it so it becomes a priority. If heading off to a fitness class and being amongst other people is just too much too soon, then perhaps start with a power walk or a short jog and as the benefits kick in you will feel able to do more.

For me on Monday, a power-walk was what I felt I could deal with.

I decided I needed to start setting boundaries…

#5. Set Boundaries

As a small business owner I am guilty of having fallen into the trap of living and breathing my business 24/7. One of the most important things that I have unfortunately learned the hard way is that you need to set boundaries between your work life and your personal life. Being able to switch off from work allows you to live  your personal life ‘in the moment’ and helps you preserve your relationships and your mental and psychological health.

Set your phone to Do Not Disturb after 7pm so you are not tempted to answer phone calls, check your emails or otherwise stay distracted and torn between home and work. Diarise your off time (I’ve put it on my whiteboard) to make you hurry up and finish your work tasks so you can stay on target for off-duty time.

I made an appointment to wax my scary legs...

#6. Take Some Me-Time For Self-Care

Schedule a chunk of one day for self-care appointments. Do all those self-care things you’ve been putting off that almost feel like you are punishing yourself even more. Make the appointment to go and get your legs and bikini waxed, make the appointment to get your haircut and get your greys dyed, then go and get your nails done. Just to feel human again.


Now I’m not saying that practicing these tips will fix the problem. But practicing these tips has helped me feel more in control and more able to cope with the stress I'm experiencing in my life. I am feeling a lot clearer and focused today and that can only be a good thing.

Laska Varkaris
Trainer and Body Transformations Coach
Dynamic Boxing Fitness 

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