I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately. Between the job, two volunteer commitments, race training, being on the board of our HOA, plus Alex, friend, and family time, I didn’t have much time left over for me.
Granted, solo runs and yoga sessions are things I choose to do – and I do get a personal benefit out of them. But there’s been a lack of unstructured time – play time. About two weeks ago, I got home early from a work dinner and found I had a few hours before I had to go to bed. I had a bit of dessert and took a shower and realized that I was so tired, I could barely keep my eyes open, much less do anything creative.
I collapsed into bed and I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Not my idea of a good night (when the expectation was something else).
Saying no is something I’ve always struggled with and I had just taken on too much. Particularly with two hours of commuting each day, my time is limited and I was finding it was sucked up every single night.
When I had tea with Rachel she remarked, “this is this most stressed I’ve seen you in a long time.” I talked it out with her, my mom, Alex and my friend Nicole and came to the realization that I needed to take the advice I would give to other people and step back from something.
I chose the one long term commitment that was taking up the most energy but wasn’t giving much payoff. Sadly, I loved the people and I’ll miss working with them. The time commitment wasn’t huge and I don’t have a ton of free time now that I’ve let it go. But I’m not putting energy into thinking or worrying or feeling responsible for any of it, and that does take the edge off.
Meditation has helped, but what I’m looking for more than anything else is unstructured time to be creative without feeling like I’m not being productive. Time to create when I’m not exhausted. I actually think my tiredness might be physical/hormonal – so I’m visiting a naturopath this weekend; my regular practitioner has had no advice.
Here’s what I would advise someone else to do – let’s see if I can practice what I preach.
1. Have at least one night a week where you can do your own thing – without friends, family, partners, colleagues, etc.
2. If you are in a relationship, devote at least one night to spending quality time with that person and staying connected. If you’re not attached, use this time to connect with a close friend.
3. Meditate. Get a few minutes of quiet each day.
4. Take walks during the workday if you can. Get out of the fluorescent world into real sunlight.
5. Make the time to eat well, even if you’re crazy busy. Take a few hours on a day off and make several large meals – things you can freeze or put in the freezer for the rest of the week. At least buy whole wheat bread and jelly without high fructose corn syrup so when you have to resort to a PB&J you know you’re eating quality ingredients.
6. Make a list of priorities and stick to them. If an activity isn’t contributing to one of these priorities, say no. (That’s not to say you should be completely selfish; if a priority is taking time out of your day to help someone, then by all means follow that. But don’t do it just because you feel like you “have” to.)
7. Practice saying no. And step back from something if you’re over committed and ready to tear your hair out.
8. Get moving without “exercising.” I consider exercise a priority but it doesn’t always fall into the “fun, creative, relaxing” category, even when it’s yoga. I’m more likely to consider a walk or leisurely bike ride a fun way to get off the couch and get ousted.
I’m sure there are a million more things you could do to stay grounded that I haven’t thought of – anyone want to share??