We’re saying yes to more; opportunities at work and at home, social commitments as well as committing to our own self-care. On top of that, every day another app is launched to help us manage our workload – so now we have more apps to open before we’ve even started our day! Plus, we’ve got all the supplements making us our “best self ever.” All the Pretty Birds writer Charisse Kenion makes an argument for why it’s time to reclaim our lives, be kind and actually stop doing the most.
Doing the most
How many times have you told a friend or work colleague that you barely got four hours sleep last night, in a vaguely humble-brag tone? Have you ever heard yourself telling someone about how busy you are and kind of felt worthy for saying so? Are you someone who grabs the phone the minute your eyes open first thing in the morning, because you’re oh, so, busy? If you said yes to one or all of the above, you might be in need of some serious restoration time. No, I’m not beating you up about falling into these social traps – I’m guilty of it too! What I’m trying to do is give you a virtual hug and let you know that, you (insert full name), do hereby no longer have to keep doing the most. Here’s why.
What’s the worst that can happen?
A key point in time that causes stress on an almost universal level, is the holiday period. It’s funny isn’t it; the word holiday brings to mind smiles, abundant joy and goodwill to all people. Unfortunately, this time is also a period of deep sadness and disappointment for some. Sadness often for those who spend this time alone, and disappointment for those who make the journey to see family and loved ones each year, only to be greeted with questions that undermine their social status. Are you still single? When are you two having babies? Did you get your house deposit yet? What happened to your face? Add to this emotional minefield the fact that you said yes to every single social invitation – because absolutely everyone will notice that you weren’t there making small talk with the boss – and you can end up feeling completely depleted and ready for, well, absolutely nothing.
Of course these feelings don’t come up just that one time of year; if you’re someone that has a remotely busy-ish life, there is always going to be something that stresses you out. Before those feelings of anxiety wreak havoc on your day, make a list of all the things you’re expected to do by a certain date – I like to look at a month at a time. Ask yourself; what changes if I don’t attend? Often, the answer will be: not much. Of course, if you’ve promised to bake a cake or finish a spreadsheet, then you’ll need to work out if you can do it. If you can’t, let the person in charge know. Or, if you need help, just ask. Use your words!
Yes, you might royally piss someone off, but if they’re human, they’ll get it — even if they don’t want to let you know that. Also, a lot of the anxiety we feel around not attending or completing something – work, family or otherwise – is linked to us worrying about the reaction to the news, not the news itself.
Be kind to yourself
Have you ever called yourself lazy, simply because you forgot to pay that bill, finish that work or cancelled on a friend? You’re not a bad friend, or person. What’s happening is, your mind wants to hibernate but before you know it procrastination ends up morphing into a ‘final warning’ letter or a curt text from a friend – obviously, you don’t want this to happen. So you wind up being cruel to yourself, saying things you wouldn’t expect to hear from a friend, or even a stranger.
According to the Guardian, this is called “errand paralysis”. We’ve turned into an ‘always on’ generation, and yet, instead of showing kindness to ourselves and others, we’ve taken to labelling people, millenials in particular, as snowflakes, for simply not being able to perform 24/7. While our parents might have paid bills by keeping them in separate drawers and simply visiting the bank, we can now get our bills emailed, texted and WhatsApp’d to us, and yet, they’re somehow harder to keep track of. Today, clearing your inbox has become some kind of badge of honour. We need to stop. Take care of what is really important to you. Don’t beat yourself up if you forgot your kid’s juice box twice already this week. Ask for help, or try out the tips below.
Tools to help you feel restored
Simplify things; yes, apps are amazing at getting us to do things we don’t want to do, and organizing the things we do want to do. However, do you really need three sleep apps, five fitness apps and two for horoscopes? Become more selective. If it doesn’t get used, delete it. If you simply wish to spend less time on your phone? Try switching to grayscale in your phone settings. This way all of your apps will be drained of color, making you far less likely to continue to scroll mindlessly.
Write it down
No, I don’t mean with the Notes app! Get yourself a notebook and write things down. By things I mean anything. A shopping list, your budget for the month, your dreams. Writing it down helps to secure it in your mind, far more than opening an app every 10 minutes because you’ve already forgotten. Better still, put this list somewhere you’re bound to see it. If you live with others they’ll also see it and perhaps take on some of the tasks themselves.
But keep it organized
So you love a list, that’s great! But if you’ve ended up with the longest list ever, where your dentist appointment is nestled in between buying some new underwear and a visa application, it might be best to separate the personal from the business.
A never-ending list is rarely something thoroughly enjoyable, so, include tasks such as taking a walk, grabbing a coffee. This will get you moving and allow you some time to reassess and get ready to get the other bits done.
If you can cancel it, do it.
If all else fails, try this simple technique to bring you back to the here and now. I do it in the shower each morning, because that’s the time when all hell breaks loose as my monkey mind takes over! Simply breathe in for a count of four; hold it for a count of seven, then exhale for a count of eight. Do this at least four times and I guarantee you will feel better. Perhaps not for the entire day, but baby steps…