It feels like you are spending your life running. Running late. Running behind. Running errands. Running for something, and usually, it has nothing to do with cardio. But good for you if it does! You feel like a mess on the inside, and you hope, pray, beg the gods, that you don’t look like it on the outside. Hopefully no one will notice that you didn’t iron your shirt, that you are re-wearing from last week. You pulled it off the “not dirty enough for the hamper, but too dirty for the closet” chair in the corner of your room. At least you managed to pull some pet hair and other random pieces of fluff from it. Hair and make-up, well, this is the middle of a pandemic, so no one does either of those anymore right? You just hope that your boss/spouse/partner, or kids, don’t notice that you didn’t pick up, drop off or order whatever random item was on your to do list.
I hear it all the time from women. ALL. THE. TIME. And we wonder why most of us are overwhelmed, overworked, tired AF, run down, stress out and feel like we couldn’t keep it together no matter what was at stake. Now partly, it isn’t even our fault. We can thank the media and society for making us feel like we need to be Little Miss Perfect, Little Miss Working Mom, Little Miss Best Cook Ever, Little Miss My Kids Are Perfect, Little Miss I Never Skip a Workout and Always Eat Organic. I could go on, but you get the point. The problem is that in the process of becoming what society wants us to be, what our parents want us to be, our spouse/partner, our boss and whoever else, we completely lose ourselves and our mind in the process.
Well. That stops here. I wish I could tell you that it would be easy. That you can get out of it by pulling tarot cards and meditating (believe me I tried). That I had a magic wand to fix everything. I can’t do any of those things. Sadly, I was never given such a wand even though I surely wish I had!
I can, however, give you tips and tricks to change your life and help you feel like you aren’t spinning out of control. Small tweaks can go a long way in altering your present functioning.
Before we get there, I want you to know, it’s NOT your fault! As humans, our brains are wired to keep us alive. Run (again with the running) away from predators, stay with your tribe because there is safety in numbers, and stay with the familiar because what you know is comfortable. That is what your brain is supposed to do. It is highly effective at protecting you and keeping you alive. Which is great! Right? Well, sort of. Keeping you safe means sticking with the familiar. This means, consistently going about life in the way that you know. Because what you know, works. Until it doesn’t. When you feel stress, overwhelm, anxiety, depression, it isn’t working for you anymore. So, you try to make a change. You journal once. You meditate once. You buy essential oils. And for a moment, you feel a bit better. You see a glimpse of the relief that stress-free moments can bring you. I am aware however, of the stress that meditation can bring all on its own. We won’t address that here, but news flash, you aren’t doing it wrong. And, if it isn’t your thing, you don’t have to do it at all! Somehow, you always find your way back to your old habits. You know they don’t work for you, but you just can’t help it. And you would be right. You can’t help it thanks to your brain. Some people call it the reptilian brain or the primal brain. The primal brain’s job is to keep you alive. It knows that your current circumstances have kept you alive. They may not be great circumstances. They may be terrible. But as far as the primal brain knows, alive and miserable in the known is better than risking being happy in the unknown.
This is why change is so hard. You are battling yourself! The primal brain does not like change. You may start off with the best intentions, but eventually you end up right back where you started. This is why having someone else in your corner, to keep pushing you and encouraging you is key. You can’t battle your brain on your own. You need support. That can be intimidating or seem impossible for a variety of factors.
To help you out, here are some simple things you can try to put the brakes on the constant running and get you feeling like you can breathe again. Remembering that change takes work, and you have to commit to yourself somewhat, try some of these small things and see what happens. Surely, if there is one person who can make you a priority, it should surely be you! I know, probably another foreign concept to you right now.
When you are so busy all the time, your brain gets used to being busy. It is therefore, no surprise why you feel like you are losing your mind.
The best tip I have for you is to take steps to quiet your mind. I’m not talking about sitting in lotus pose surrounded by candles breathing into your womb space waiting for the universe to dispense wisdom. Though, if that works, then you should do that. But it hasn’t worked for me or any of my clients. I can’t even get my body into lotus at this point if we are being honest.
First, look at your clutter. Clutter makes concentration and focus difficult. I’m not saying to go all Marie Kondo and clear the room. But, see what you can get rid of. As things are put away in their proper place, donated or sold, you will feel a sense of relief and calm. I can’t think when my desk is piled high with my to-do list. Which is why I am writing this on the floor. My desk isn’t clutter free right now, but my floor is!
Keep a to-do list. Many of the world’s most successful people keep to-do lists, Richard Branson has spoken and written about the importance of lists and notebooks in his life. Keep your priorities straight and know what your day is going to look like. When you add random (and often time sucking) things, the day gets away from you. This leads to panic and overwhelm.
Make yourself a priority. Make sure that you know where your time and attention go. Sometimes your attention has to be on work. Your kids. Your taxes. Your spouse/partner. We all have responsibilities. I’m a single mom, trust me I get you. But when I set me time, it stays me time. If I have an appointment to get my nails done, or my eyebrows done or gym time or whatever. It goes in my calendar and it stays there. If a client asks for an appointment at that same time, my answer is always “I am already booked.” Because I am. I am my most important client. I’ve tried being completely open and taking bookings any time, canceling all of my appointments for other people. Serving from an empty cup does not work. When you have nothing in you left to give, how can you expect to help others. And guess what, the clients get booked just the same. I make more money now than before and I’m not sacrificing my sanity to do it.
Take time to unwind. Whatever that means. For some it means taking a bath with candles. For others it means reading, painting or knitting. It could mean taking a kickboxing class. Just like it could be hiking. Going for a drive. Walking your dog. Anything that takes you out of your head and brings you to the here and now counts. It doesn’t have to be long. I tell my clients to start with 3-5 minutes at a time!! That’s it. Take yourself out of the overwhelm for 3-5 minutes. As that gets comfortable, increase your time. Oh, but, leave your phone behind.
Unwinding does not mean constantly checking your phone. Walking your dog while looking at screen will not help you release the overwhelm. Try 3-5 minute, and you will see that when you are done, your phone will still be waiting for you and, odds are, nothing will have changed.
Be aware of the time sucks in your life. Yes, talking with colleagues builds relationships and it’s fun. Scrolling social media is entertaining and even educational. Netflix, movies, TV are easy to access. But, at some point it all takes time away from what you should be doing. The more time you spend on activities with little or no payoff, the more stress there is as deadlines get closer and work piles up. This is tough love for sure, but adulting isn’t always fun. I allow myself one hour of TV time on Friday night and one hour on Saturday night. The rest of my time is scheduled. And I schedule everything. Time for work and clients, time with my daughter, time for cooking, time for nails/hair/grooming, time to work out, time for shopping. It is all planned. I have learned that if I leave things up to chance, nothing happens and I forget. This way, everything is in my schedule and I have time to enjoy everything I do. I no longer have those guilty thoughts about work when I am doing something fun because I know it is all accounted for. This didn’t happen overnight. I worked towards this for a very long time.
Enjoy the present moment. Whatever you do, show up with all your heart. If it’s work, then show up entirely. If it’s cooking dinner, enjoy that time. Whatever it is. Do it with your whole heart. My daughter dances, and I spend a great deal of time on a bench outside a dance studio. Or lately, sitting in my cold car due to the pandemic. It would be so easy to think of the million other things I could be doing. As a single mom and business owner, they are abundant for sure. But, I made that appointment for me and her. So for that time, that is my responsibility. It has turned into my guilty pleasure reading time. I know I can’t make lunches, work on client files or take calls. So I focus on what I can do in that moment. Find gaps in your schedule and do what makes you happy.
Let’s talk about the bedroom. How can you expect to keep your shizz together if you can’t even keep your eyes open. I’m not going to tell you to turn your phone off 45 minutes before bed so that your brain can start producing sleep hormones and blah blah blah. Why? Because I know that you won’t do it. And I know that because I don’t do it. But, you can keep your bedroom, or at least your bed, sacred. Beds are meant to be for two things. Sleep and intimacy. That’s it. Whenever you do anything else in bed, you are telling your brain that it is ok to be awake in bed. This hinders your quality of sleep. Stay on your phone, if you must, but don’t do it in bed. In all honesty, I’m working on this one too. That picture of me wearing heels and journaling on my bed. Well, it’s just a picture. I don’t usually wear heels in bed, and I don’t usually look like that when I journal. And beds aren’t meant for journaling.
This is quite the list. And just looking at it may seem overwhelming. That is why I encourage you to pick 1 thing. Yes 1. Just 1. And do try it once. Maybe once this week. More if you can. But try to dedicate 3-5 minutes today to quiet your mind and slow down your brain from running away with your thoughts. You have trained your brain to be busy and constantly on the go. It’s going to take some practice to remember how to slow down.
Lastly, give yourself a break! You are rocking life. How do I know that? You woke up today. Probably fed yourself. Got yourself dressed. And possibly even got kids out the door. Acknowledge all the amazing stuff you do. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! The other day, I went to the store to buy ingredients for a chicken salad. Guess what? I forgot to buy the chicken. And that’s ok. You have to forgive yourself for what you perceive as your shortcomings. Because, somewhere some other lady is looking at you and thinking that you are Little Miss Perfect Mother, Little Miss Always Has Her Nails Done Perfectly, Little Miss Perfect Lotus Sitter, Little Miss Has Perfect Hair, Little Miss Makes Great Looking Lunches.
You’ve got this! And if you need help, or a cheerleader, or an accountability partner. I’m here for you and I’ve got you.