Evie Serventi was Tina’s sports psychologist during her elite career and is a very close friend. Her “lightbulb moment” about sport came when she observed her father using exercise to counter high levels of work-related stress and recognized the positive effects that physical activity can have on all aspects of life. This is her fourth time on the Running for Real podcast – a record for a guest!
In this episode, Evie and Tina talk about something that we all seem to struggle with in our increasingly busy lives – managing our time and the stress that creates. As Evie says, “It makes us feel motivated when we’re productive, but it’s very difficult to find that balance for yourself.”
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Much of the stress comes from comparing ourselves to others, wondering why it is that they can do so much more than we can. But, Evie asks, “Why does it matter? Why do we have to even think about other people? What relevance does that have on how we feel about our lives and where we are?” We also need to be realistic about the comparisons we’re making. Before social media, our community might have consisted of 100 people whose activities we observed. Now we’re weighing our accomplishments against thousands of others, including some of the best in the world at what they do.
To counter that, it’s helpful to have a “kitchen cabinet” of friends. Those are the people whom you really trust and who really trust you. You can count on them to support you, but also to be honest with you. Sharing your feelings with them and hearing their perspectives can be useful because they’ll tell you what you need to hear, whether it’s what you want to hear or not.
It’s also beneficial to try to change your own perspective. Evie observes that, “We always think about what we haven’t done, but think about what you have done.” You may well find that it’s more than you think.
Unfortunately, even if you acknowledge what you’ve accomplished, it can seem as though there’s always more to do and not enough time to get through it all. That, Evie says, “is a horrible place to be because you can’t appreciate anything you do when you’re constantly thinking of what’s weighing you down. You miss out on appreciating everything you get done.” She suggests breaking a task down into smaller, more manageable pieces and going through them systematically, giving yourself credit for each part that you accomplish, then moving on to the next. “It doesn’t matter how big the task, if you stay focused in the moment and task-focused, you can get it done.”
Evie also recommends that you ask yourself what needs to change for you to not feel so much pressure. Is there something that you don’t actually have to do, or that you could set aside until later? Could you give it to someone else to do, or ask for help to do it?
Of course, no matter how well-laid your plans are, Evie herself finds that “things always just pop up.” It’s especially difficult if you’re someone who thrives on routine, but try to work on being able to mentally pivot, to “change and be flexible and think on your feet and spin right round,” if you need to.
Most of all, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, Evie suggests taking a moment to stop and consider the situation. “Just close your eyes, do some deep breathing, just take stock, like ‘What is it that’s really freaking me out right now?’ Really pinpointing that and identifying that. And then when you find what that is, ‘What can I do to change that?’ And if you don’t feel there’s anything you can do, talk to someone, get some perspective from someone else.”
If you enjoyed this episode, you may want to check out our “Run and Reflect” notes, our ten favorite takeaways from it to think about on your next run. Click below and we’ll deliver them to your inbox!
Evie’s previous Running for Real episodes:
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“Thank you” to Evie. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.