I’ve been so busy the past couple of weeks that I haven’t had a moment to sit down and write. Phew! Between my part-time job, a theatre experiment I did over the weekend, organizing the season-launch for my theatre company, struggling to finish a long-overdue project, volunteering with a major theatre company, and just doing regular human stuff, I’ve been pretty swamped!
I look at the list I just wrote out up there and I’m pretty impressed. Like me, you might be thinking, “Wow, Steph! You’re really accomplishing a lot right now! Isn’t that great?” Well, I’m not so sure.
Our society puts such a huge premium on productivity. There’s a lot of pressure to be constantly “doing” and “making”. We’re made to think that somehow the waking moments when we are not being productive are moments wasted; that the time we spend simply relaxing is squandered. Even in our down-time we are told we need to be furthering some kind of personal interest or skill. Our time needs to be measurable to be worth something.
Not only that, but there’s a huge sense of competitiveness when it comes to how busy we are. We praise each other for being close to burn-out. I often overhear people one-upping each other over who got less sleep, and that’s messed up!
Now, I’m sure some people thrive on being busy, and are genuinely happy that way. I respect you for that, and am also slightly in awe of your superhuman energy. But I can only speak from my own experience, which isn’t quite so positive.
Being busy, for me, comes with some nasty side-effects. I have a hard time sleeping, I don’t eat well, and I get really prone to anxiety attacks. When I have too much on my plate, some of my essentials of self-care really go out the proverbial window. If I didn’t have to be busy, I wouldn’t be; but I think we need to be a certain kind of busy to function in our society and that’s ok, as long as we don’t go overboard. So, here’s a list of a few things I do (or that I wish I did) to keep myself sane, especially when I’m crazy busy.
1) Eat good food.
This one is definitely on the wish list, and I’ll admit I’m currently pretty bad at it. I tend to rely a little heavily on PB&J and take-out, but I think this is a problem that plagues a lot of people my age. I find whenever I buy healthy ingredients the ones I don’t use immediately in a recipe end up going bad. But I realize how important it is to be prepared and have healthy food at home, as this helps us to maintain our energy by providing sustainable fuel for our bodies! So rather than making my sad go-to’s off limits, maybe I’ll just try introducing a little bit more good food, one day at a time.
Hold on – I’m going to make a tuna salad to bring to work tonight.
2) Call home.
Okay, I’m back!
I try to talk to at least one of my parents at least once a day – bonus if I get to speak with the two of them! Most of the time they really help to keep me grounded. Other times not so much, since my mom can be a little intense with her pep talks (don’t worry, she knows!) It’s so, so comforting for me to hear their voices.
3) Move your body.
I try to take some time each day to practice yoga, even if it’s just 20 minutes. The past couple of days I’ve been able to take full classes and that’s really the ideal. I find yoga helps me to steady my mind and loosen up my body, so it’s win-win. I kind of hate cardio, but I know I should start incorporating that into my routine. I used to jog, but lately my anxious brain is like, “what if you have bad knees when you’re old?!” So…I’m working on it.
4) Take a day off.
If you can, it’s so worth it. Tomorrow’s my day off and my boyfriend and I are planning to do brunch, dog-watching and making chana masala. I couldn’t imagine a better day.
5) Get some Z’s – even if that means leaving the party early.
On Sunday I needed to run out of a party a little early so that I could be in bed at a reasonable time to wake up on Monday. And you know what? I wasn’t embarrassed about it at all. If you need to sleep, just do it. I find I function at an optimal level with 9 hours, but I can be human at 7. Any less and I’m just pretending to be awake. Everyone’s different, and I envy you if you need less!
Don’t be too hard on yourself. I waste so much time mentally and emotionally beating myself up, and that is ACTUALLY time wasted. It can be so hard to catch myself when I start getting into that pattern of negative self-talk, but it’s so important that I try. I find little mantras helpful: “I am enough,” “I am exactly where I’m supposed to be,” and others like that – as well as a wonderful image I saw a few months ago that says something like “Just because you’re taking longer than others doesn’t mean you’re failing.” It’s really helpful to remind myself of those things in difficult moments to bring me back to reality.
So, those are my humble suggestions. I think they’re all pretty common sense, but sometimes we all forget to carve out a little time to ourselves when the going gets cray. Do what you can, and you’ll survive your especially busy time!
What do you do to help keep your head above water?