How to stay zen when life gets busy

August 25, 2016 - Posted by Jarrah Gerstle

Producing events can at times feel like riding a roller coaster – you experience many emotional highs and lows. You’re constantly busy, stress and expectation is high, deadlines are tight and there are never enough hours in a day. Whilst this is what we live and breathe, there are times when it can all feel a bit too much.

In fact, life in general can get overwhelming. So how do we keep a sense of calm when shit hits the fan or doesn’t go to plan?

Here are a few of my tips to help you keep your cool.

Re-jig the To-Do list

It’s a handy tool to keep track of tasks, but when life gets busy so does the list and before you know it, you’re totally overwhelmed. Be strategic, keep the to-do list simple and look at your priorities through a lens of what’s essential and what won’t destroy the world if it’s not attended to immediately. Once you’ve curated a list of priorities, move your focus to a top three. Complete, then reassess.

One task at a time

Working simultaneously on multiple tasks might seem like a time saver but it actually slows you down and reduces focus. We’re far more effective when we’re able to block out the noise of competing tasks and concentrate on one item at a time. So get things done, one by one.

Self love 

It’s common advice, I know, but it’s true. A little TLC goes along way. We’re on top of our game when we’re kind to ourselves and feel a sense of balance. But it’s not an easy thing to achieve, let alone master. When we’re busy it’s like we’re programmed to sacrifice our personal needs and allow our personal life to slip into second place. Whilst we may see the choices we’re making as a temporary sacrifice, the impact is greater than we realise. It’s not just about being healthy; it’s also about nurturing our personal relationships and making time to enjoy all the incredible perks of being alive.


Manage your emotions

When life heats up and we’re overcome by stress, we tend to instinctively hit the big red panic button. When we do this, we struggle to think clearly, which leads to making rash decisions. The challenge is learning how to manage your emotions and to practise resilience. Get in-tune with your own sensibilities and know how to navigate your tipping points. To be resilient you need to acknowledge difficult situations, keep calm and evaluate rationally prior to making a plan of action. The advice here is to simply listen to yourself and be confident in calling a time out whenever it’s needed.

Working smarter not harder

There are always two paths to choose from; one that’s an easy stroll downhill and the other having a much steeper incline. When stressed, we don’t always manage time effectively and can often choose the much more difficult path without even realising. Take a moment to reflect on the task or situation, not letting the stress of getting everything done cloud your mind. Take the time to understand the desired outcome and quickly brainstorm how to best achieve it in a logical and simple way. If you hit a wall, grab a buddy and workshop it out for a few minutes. Remember life is only as hard as we make it out to be.


Tactile therapy

Tactile therapy promotes a sense of calm and can help regain focus quickly. Keep an object close by that’s malleable and textured. Something you can squeeze, poke and shape. It’s a great way to diffuse stress and level you out. If you want to stimulate the creative mind, get connected with kinetic sand; its airy and smooth texture will melt away your worries.

And for the digital natives, there’s also my new obsession, the PAUSE app. Beautifully designed, the app combines the principles of Tai Chi and mindfulness with technology that sits in the palm of your hand, easing you into a chilled state of mind, anytime, anywhere.

Establish boundaries

When the day is done, it’s always challenging to shut off, especially when work gets cray-cray. Establishing boundaries are a must. Drawing a line between what stays at work and what enters the home is crucial to our sense of sanity. It’s not conducive to a state of calm if the mind keeps ticking; you need that shutdown period to process and reboot. My trick is to write a list of all your tasks including their status at the end of each day. This will support the tomorrow, giving you assurance that you can pick up exactly where you left off.

Be early

There is nothing less calming than the feeling of chasing your tail. Running late is a guaranteed way to send your state of Zen right out the window. Rise and shine a little earlier; you’ll be surprised at how rewarding an extra five or ten minutes can be to your day.


Everyone loves a good spring clean; it’s like a satisfying detox.


However whilst many of us do this seasonally to our homes and wardrobes, the work desk often develops a hoarding habit. Clutter breeds chaos and where there is chaos there is no place for calm. The cleaner the desk, the freer the mind; a simple yet affective way to stay Zen.

Editors note: But please do not judge those with messy desks, there may be a method to their madness…


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