Everyone I know is stressed. We all have too much to do. Responsibilities at work pile up- the barrage of emails, phone calls, appointments. Then there's home. Kids need new sneakers, dental appointments, parent/teacher conferences. The list never ends. Home repairs, yoga class, and heaven forbid, an actual date!
If we're not careful life can blur by, our minds a state of chaotic frenzy. The pace of life seems to be increasing too and we move faster and faster. Until what?
No wonder most Americans are stressed. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the United States is now the most anxious nation in the world.
I used to fall into the crazed trap, running around like a maniac, heart racing, never feeling like I'd ever manage, let alone catch up. Stupidly, I continually added to my To Do List without taking anything off OR asking for help. Then one day I just ran out of steam. It was January, 2011. For seven years I'd been running a school while raising two girls. I went back to school in 2008 which soon involved internships of nearly 20 hours a week. Then I had sick family members to care for and, after I graduated in December, 2010, was simply done.
It wasn't until I finally stopped that I began to see how insane my life had become. Now it was time for me to re-evaluate and redefine how I wanted to show up in the world.
Here's what I decided:
1. Meditation is Key
I had always been meditating which is probably how I managed to get everything done in the first place but I renewed my commitment to silence and to giving the gift of communing with God to myself.
2. New Email Attitude
In Authentic Success, Robert Holden says, "you're inbox will be full even when you're dead." When I read that, a light bulb went off. "Wow! Now I won't feel pressured to read and answer everything." I unsubscribed from lists significantly reducing the quantity of emails I received. Then I scheduled times to actually read them rather than constantly being distracted by the inbox throughout the day.
3. Self Love is ALWAYS the Answer
I observed how many of my tasks were oriented towards others and felt obligatory rather than celebratory. Much of what I was doing was about getting attention and love (notice how much I got done today? Aren't you impressed? See how much I love you- I did this and this and this...) I made a list of everything I did and re-prioritized based on ME and what I now wanted in my life.
4. 80/20 Yeah, Baby
There is simply no way to get everything done and it is super easy to fall into overwhelm. In my attempt to avoid that awful place, I now try to choose wisely. I look at everything that purportedly needs to get done and pick the MOST important tasks.
5. Play Time
Schedule time just to have fun, whatever that means to you (because there's always more to do). For me, that's getting into a good novel, being in nature, doing art work or traveling. Play is re-energizing and allows for creative flow.
6. Leave Work AT Work
This is my super biggy. It's about reclaiming balance so that work doesn't consume and take over (you know it will). Conscientiously CLOSE your computer. Don't answer the phone. Take the evening to unwind, have a conversation with your daughter or husband. Maybe even enjoy a glass of wine!
These 6 life style modifications have enabled me to live more joyfully, less stressed and are great healthy alternatives to medication!