I’ve had three or four conversations in the last week with people feeling completely overwhelmed with life and utterly exhausted. The story I heard goes something like this: “I’m working more than 40 hours a week, and I have to get the kids to/from school, and I have this big project at work, and my rec softball league is in a tournament next weekend, and I have to walk the dog twice a day, and grocery shop, and make dinner, etc. And then I got really sick last weekend. And I think I’m depressed. Sigh.”
They’re exhausted. Sound familiar?
I’m still not sure WHY we do it, but as a society we seem hell-bent on driving ourselves into the ground. We over-schedule like we think we can add hours to the day; take on projects and volunteer opportunities to add to our “resume” like a high-school senior trying to get into an Ivy League school. And then we are flabbergasted when we get the latest cold, flu or virus. It seems like we are actually TRYING to be exhausted.
Would you like a solution? Because there is one.
But I have to tell you, you’re not gonna like it…at first.
Let’s start with an obvious example. Toddlers get kinda crazy when they’re over-tired, right? Everything gets over-blown, nothing makes them happy, they start to scream, and then cry, and the next thing you know, they’re throwing a full-blown temper-tantrum. Why? Because they’re exhausted.
I’ll try to deliver this softly. We’re not that much different as adults. Truly.
Over-scheduling and over-committing leads us to become overtired. We start to blow things out of proportion, nothing makes us happy (not the triple espressos, not the afternoon donuts, not the mani-pedi, not the date at a nice place), we get short-tempered (with our co-workers, friends and family), we may even cry, and the next thing you know, we’re having a major melt-down. Why? Because we’re exhausted.
So how do we solve this problem?
You may think you know where this is going. But, I’m NOT going to say you should find 3-5 things to cancel or drop. I think it’s WAY more fun to look at things to ADD than take away. I know that sounds a little counter-intuitive, but stay with me.
Write it down!
First, write down the things that are truly important to you. Like in your calendar. And start with the basics. Like sleep. Yep. Sleep. None of us functions well or rationally without adequate sleep. So, start there. Your list is probably a little different than mine, but here are some initial areas to consider:
- Sleep: research shows adults need 7-9 hours. Yes. Every night. Every. Night. Decide on your bedtime and stick to it like your life depends on it. Because it kind of does.
- Meditation: Get on the meditation bandwagon! If you haven’t yet, you are honestly missing out on a complete game-changer. No more excuses. Start today and do it for the rest of your life. You will be SO glad you did. Not sure where to start? Try this app, or this one, or maybe this one.
- Nutrition: Decide what kind of meals are important to you. And eat them somewhere other than in front of your computer. Or iPad. Or phone. I’m serious. Give yourself enough time to eat and actually enjoy your meal. A good 30 minutes for each one. Write it in!
- Movement: What’s your jam here? Yoga, Group Fitness Class, Hiking, Biking, Walking, Martial Arts. Whatever it is, schedule in time for yourself to do this a few times each week. And keep this commitment to your sanity and well-being. We all thank you!
- Necessary Tasks: Ok. Add in the mandatory tasks that MUST be done every day/week. Work, carpool, grocery shopping, etc. Just don’t do it UNTIL you have the other things scheduled.
Now that you have the framework for your week, add in the extras. If it turns out that there’s not enough time for that extra project or activity, let it go. It WILL be ok! When you start to guard your time and energy and decide AHEAD OF TIME what you are willing to spend it on, the rest will fall into place, or fall off the schedule.
Here’s what’s cool…
When I have done this in the past, what I have found is that I may let a couple things go here and there, but a lot of things stay the same. Yet, somehow I FEEL completely different about it all. During the process of doing this activity, I realize *I* am in control of my life and I can choose at any moment to add or subtract things from my life. I realize how powerful “No” can be in protecting my sanity, and I also realize how powerful “Yes” can be when I say it to something I REALLY want to do! And the best part? I don’t feel exhausted anymore! I feel energized to live the life I created!
So, are you ready to take your life back? Tell me, what are the three most important things in your day/week?