After a couple of months of external stresses, I’ve been feeling extra worn-out lately.
Not an incredibly serious type of worn-out, not burnt-out or done-in, just an ordinary sort of worn-out. Maybe frayed at the edges but still functional and repairable.
Everything I have to do is not staying done (more details and questions pop up after decisions have been made), or it’s more complicated than it seems, or I need information/resources that aren’t available yet.
And on top of that, some of the stuff my past-self scheduled for the not-now turns out to be happening in my now.
Even though it is only March 14, I kind of feel like I am Ron in this episode of Parks and Recreation:
My ADHD instinct is to put my head down and keep trudging through task after task until stuff gets done. My brain tries to convince me that if I just work hard enough – no breaks, extra effort, work all the time – I can do AllOfTheThings and then I can have a nice long break.
Of course, if I fall for my brain’s nonsense I will be working extra hard for an extra long time on this stuff and then other things will pile up.
By the time I get thorough this stuff, those other things will have become urgent and my brain will be telling me to ‘just’ get those things done and THEN I can take a real break.
You can see the pattern, right?
Instead of getting a long break, I’ll just be in an endless cycle of working hard to catch up.*
I’m getting tired just writing about it.
So, instead of trying to work extra hard, I’ve decided to be extra kind to myself.
I wrote down everything I could think of that I felt like I needed to do.
I took out everything that could be done by someone else or be done later.
I scaled down as many things as I could.
And then I added in extra kindness for myself.
I have been choosing to pause for an extra cup of tea.
I have been setting my timer to remind me to stretch.
I have been taking time to journal.
I’m choosing to meditate a few minutes at a time throughout my day.
I’m taking time for exercise, for yoga, and for lying on my mat staring at the ceiling.
And choosing the path of extra self-kindness is making a difference in how I feel overall.
I no longer feel like bedtime is me skidding to a stop.
My shoulders have moved down a little from my ears.
I’m seeing spaces in my day that are about taking care of myself instead of getting stuff done.
I know, you’d think I’d be better at this by now.
After all, I am fully aware of the dangers of overscheduling, and of the way that all the things I need to do get in the way of the things I want to do.
I am a cheerleader for self-kindness but, still, I forget.
And I bet you do, too.
I think it’s because sometimes we all have extra-busy weeks, or times when things are complicated, and we do just need to push through, put-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other, and forge ahead. In those weeks, we might put aside some of our usual self-kindnesses in favour of getting through a rough spot.
But, if we have a few weeks like that in a row, it starts to feel like ‘this is my life now’ and it is tricky to take a step back and reassess. It’s way easier to put those self-kindnesses into the not-now and assume we will get to them when we have more time.
We don’t need to blame ourselves for falling into the busy trap – our whole society is set up to lure us into that one – instead, we need to notice when we have fallen in and be extra kind to ourselves as we make our way out.
So, Team, if you are feeling worn out and frayed at the edges, I invite you to think about these two questions:
1) How do you *want* to feel right now?
2) What self-kindnesses can help you feel that way?
I know, there may be lots of things in your life that you can’t change right now. There are probably all kinds of difficult things that you can’t avoid.
I’m not saying that self-kindness is a magic cure that will make those things go away.
However, if you can do a few things that help you feel better, that help you feel more like yourself, whether that is exercise, rest, time with a friend, writing in your journal, watching a favourite show, listening to a novel while you drive, it will be at least a little helpful.
You will take up more space in your own life, you’ll remind yourself that you matter, and you will feel a little more prepared to take charge of the other things that you have going on.
So, Team, even when time is tight, please go ahead and set up your mat, boil the kettle, put on your sneakers, find your knitting, or whatever the hell else you like doing. You don’t need to wait until you have everything else done and you don’t need hours of time.
Even a few extra minutes of self-kindness can make a big difference.
Here’s your gold star for your efforts:
*that presumes that there is actually such a thing as being ‘caught up’ but that’s a whole other discussion.