What is it about the end of the year drawing in that we feel the rush of panic to create a list miles longer than we can reasonably manage?
As soon as the well-worn Yuletide refrains of Mariah Carey and Band Aid hit the airwaves (early this year I think!) I was immediately triggered to over-promise. Arrghhh!
I got sucked into the stress of trying to do it all - if you want something done, give it to a busy person, right?! The resulting frantic pace only served to make me demotivated and resentful to the point where I wasn't actually doing any of my 'jobs' properly. Sound familiar?
Say No and Let Go I just made a bold move and said 'no' to three things that I felt I should say yes to. It felt like a bold move because it was expected that I would say yes and I like to think that I'm a good and reliable person. I don't like to think that I've let someone down because it makes me feel like I've failed to meet some sort of standard (which I cannot even define, and in reality no-one is holding me to this standard except myself! Nuts.)
So, I said 'no' (politely, but clearly). I took four deep, slow, grounding breaths (to work through the immediate panic of having done it) and sat with my stillness for a few minutes.
Here’s what happened: The world kept spinning.
And then, like I’d had a shot of espresso, I was suddenly hugely productive. It was as if the yoke had been lifted. I instantly gained the headspace to focus on the things that provide me with joy or satisfaction from doing, that are priorities for ME, and now I have the chance to give them my full attention. And I got my sense of humour back.
What are the essentials?
As busy parents we tend to focus on the essentials: feeding the kids, feeding the dog, refereeing the “he said/she said” slinging matches between our little darlings which seem to round out nearly every school day, and then feeding ourselves. If our luck is good we might get out of the family taxi long enough to get a walk around the kids’ sports ground (how many loops of the pitch can you do in an hour?) and occasionally we might get to bed at a reasonable hour.
When we are the ‘do-er of all things’ and constantly at the mercy of other people’s agendas (kids, partner, friend circle and work - usually all at once) we are exposing ourselves to a level of chronic busyness that slowly degrades our ability to feel well through a number of factors; including reducing our happy hormones, driving us to 'quick fix' and low nutrient food and drink choices, upsetting our sleep/wake cycle and preventing our body's ability to heal. It is a key reason why we don’t seem to be able to properly get rid of the gut pain and headaches, reverse that creeping weight gain or even out the hormones that send us rocketing between crazy angry, crazy sad and just plain tired.
How we treat ourselves and our time is important. It must be on our list of essentials. The higher the value we place on ourselves, the greater our ability to be all things to all people (if that is what we choose to do) because we come from a place that promotes and supports our energy, resilience, calm and well-being. It's the place that allows us to be centred and present in the moment; it's the fulcrum on which our ability to maintain a strong body and mind pivots. In truth, it's where we are the most fun version of ourselves. And don't we all want to see a bit more of that person?!
It’s so easy, as we enter into the Silly Season, to get caught up in priorities and ‘must dos’ that are not our own. Let's do something about it, as the first (and best) Christmas gift to ourselves this year!
Here’s my pro tip to reclaim your headspace and keep your sense of humour:
Grab a pen and paper and write your crazy long To Do list. I recommend doing it physically because reinforcing change through action is very helpful in creating habits (double win!). Take that list and rip it in half. Make a great show of screwing the bottom half up into a ball and tossing it in the recycling bin with a satisfied whoop (the louder the better - I do love a good whoop - for the sheer fun of it and the effect of lowering stress hormone cortisol).
Those are the things you’re saying no to. Breathe (slowly - hyperventilating encourages panic but slow breathing turns on all your body's feel good factors).
Now with renewed vigor attend to the top half - try and knock the first thing off the list today to get your momentum going and extend the feel good factor by getting the stuff that’s actually a priority done!
I look forward to hearing your whoop!
If you'd like to feel better - with more energy, greater calm and feeling well in yourself - then drop me a line to find out why my holistic approach that considers all the factors which contribute to your well-being is the thing you've been waiting for.