Life is busy. Hell, sometimes mine feels crazy. These last few weeks I’ve taken on another blogging job plus started trying to blog regularly here, as well as my usual routine of study, another blogging job and admin work from home. And I try to cram all of this into just two days per week when my son is at daycare and scraps of time here and there when he is sleeping. Oh and did I mention I also try to get to the gym on those two days and do the housework. Then the rest of the time I’m trying to do my best as a single mum. Needless to say, some weeks it just gets crazy. Now I don’t pretend that my life is any crazier than anyone else’s. Some people will be busier than me, some people will be less busy than me, but most people feel the pressure of a busy life one way or another so most of you know what I’m talking about. This post is about a tactic I have started to use to deal with the stresses of life…knowing when to take time out. It’s my way to stop the crazy. Believe me, it works. I know you think you don’t have time but you don’t need much. You really don’t. And if you have a meltdown instead because you didn’t opt to take time out then I guarantee you it will take more time out of your life than what I’m suggesting. Meltdowns are like the ball rolling down the hill: it only gathers momentum.
Last week when I wrote about receiving the Shine On Award I had to list 7 things about myself and one of them was:
- I have been so busy this week and doing so many things at once that from time to time I have felt like a train that might derail. I didn’t though (yet). Tomorrow is Friday and I’ve almost made it.
Well I did make it but then we went away for the weekend (the second one in a row for me) and my son didn’t sleep well so I didn’t sleep well and there was driving and not sleeping well on return blah blah blah and yes, the train did start to derail. If there is one thing I have learnt trying to manage my tendency towards stress and anxiety it is this: the important thing is catching the train. If you can see it happening and are aware of it then that is a BIG step and then you can do what you need to get it on track.
So how do you tell? Well me even writing that point in the 7 things about me was a big red flag. I was on the edge. I felt really good though which can be deceiving. I was wired. I was pumped. I was focused. I was getting shit done. How can that mean I’m about to derail? It means that my adrenaline is pumping and that soon I’m going to need some down time. Normally my son goes with his dad from Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening and I am pretty strict about making sure I devote some of that time to myself. And when I mean time to myself I mean down time. Doing nothing, relaxing, reading, that sort of thing. Not running around being a little social butterfly. The previous weekend when I was away without my little one I was able to sleep in and then my friend and I went for a nice walk in the morning so that was all good however this recent weekend away catching up with family was a little busier. It involved some drinking plus I had my son along with me so there was a busy night and a very early morning one day. I’d also started dropping the exercise from my routine which is a killer for me. I need it to keep me on track. Add that to two weeks of “working” every single time my son had his day sleep or went to bed at night and you can see how I was really cramming it all in. All these little things pile on top of each other to push you that little bit closer to the edge.
Well on Tuesday, after a particularly busy night and early morning with my son, I started to melt down. My patience was wearing thin with my little boy and it was really about me and not him. So I started some enforced time out. I had to. I was losing it. So Tuesday lunchtime when he went down for his sleep I made myself have one too. That was the start of my enforced time out. And believe me I had a million other things I wanted to do. I want to write a blog post; I wanted to do the corrections for my assignment that came back last Friday (still haven’t got to them btw); I wanted to do some writing for my other job; and I wanted to do some housework. There are always other things to do but I promise you, if you save the crazy it will be the best thing you do all week.
Second part of my enforced time out was to sit down on the lounge after putting munchkin to bed that night and eat an icecream and watch some crap TV. The point was to relax. When I do this I give myself permission to not think about anything that needs to be done. Nothing. Nada. You got it? Then when I woke Wednesday morning I did a meditation for as long as my mind would let me. I got 15 mins out of it which I think is pretty awesome and was really helpful to my state of mind yesterday. Meditation is something that I’ve only just started doing. I thought for a long time that I couldn’t do it as my mind was too busy but I did a fantastic course recently that changed all that for me. I will write about it soon. According to this TED talk by a dude who used to be a monk, all we need is 10 minutes a day to make a difference to our lives and I honestly believe we can all manage that.