Do you ever have those weeks where you feel like you never have time to stop? Like the only time you can take your shoes off is before crawling into bed at the end of a very long day? The past several weeks have been like that for me. Besides my regular work day, I've had meetings or work almost every night, errands to run after that, wedding plans to work on, and then the usual chores to complete. Oh, and I’m trying to finish up grad school this semester. There was no time for Netflix, a chapter in a (non-academic) book, or a yoga session.
I’m not complaining (much). I love school, and in the past few weeks, I got to see Rupi Kaur speak, hear Kristin Chenoweth sing (which was a lifelong dream), and I really enjoy all of the community groups in Omaha that I’m involved in right now. But lately it’s been the perfect storm, and all of these things hit at one time.
Eventually, I got so run down that I found myself crying at an intersection because someone decided to stop at the yellow light instead of trying to make it through, leaving me stuck for another traffic cycle, and making me feel like the world was coming to an end. I wasn’t late, and nothing was wrong, but at that point, I was so twisted up in knots that if it wasn’t that instance to set me off, the next slightest inconvenience would have. It was also the moment that I realized that I need to make sure I’m taking better care of myself.
But it’s hard when you have no time, right? When you’re not in a position to make the call that this meeting needs to be rescheduled or change the deadline of an assignment? When you’re a student and a young professional, you feel like you’re pretty much always living on the whim of someone else. It can feel downright impossible.
What I’ve learned recently, though, is that you have to make time for yourself in those little moments between this meeting and that appointment. The two minutes you have before you have to pick up your keys to leave. The thirty seconds that you’re waiting for your coffee to reheat in the microwave. After much research, many conversations with friends, and frankly, tips from my counselor, I’ve come up with a list that helps me pause for a moment and relax.
Download a meditation app.
I recommend either Calm or Insight Timer. If you have a Ringly, the meditation feature of that app is my absolute favorite. Just do a two-minute breathing exercise. If relaxing doesn’t come easily to you, you’re going to feel really stupid and annoyed at first, but keep with it for a few tries. Eventually, you’ll feel your shoulders relax and your breathing become slower. Your brain will stop racing, and you’ll be able to refocus on the task at hand.
Take a candle-lit shower.
A colleague offered up this gem. Everyone knows that candle-lit baths are pretty much the most relaxing thing in the world, but Lord knows you don’t have time for that. So throw some candles on the top shelf of your shower, turn off the lights, and scrub-a-dub. Fast AND relaxing.
ENJOY your food.
This one sounds dumb, but trust me. I pretty much live on takeout when I’m running this fast. (Thanks, Amigos, for making sure I function.) I always have to eat while driving, too, because there’s not enough time to go in and sit down. So try this: eat every bite with intention, even if you’re in the car. Think about your food, and nothing else (well – the road. Please think about the road). Really, really taste that taco. It’s delicious, right? And SO satisfying!
Turn off the caffeine spigot at about 3:00 PM.
I get it. I’m pulling a late night tonight, too. But when you finally get to call it a night, you exacerbate the “I’m so exhausted” situation when you can’t sleep when you have time to.
Like the actual outdoors. Take one lap around your house or office or the block. Or just stand there and take a few deep breaths. Stare at a flower or the crack in the sidewalk. It doesn’t matter if it’s a million degrees outside or negative 100. Just take a few breaths of fresh air and step away from your computer screen for a minute. Bonus challenge: leave your phone at your desk.
Promise me this – in all the craziness this week, you’ll try just one of these things. I promise you’ll feel better, more at peace, and better equipped to take on the next task. Tell me what you’re going to try in the comments, and don't forget to like my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram so that you're never missing a post.
Thanks, as always, to my love Josh for the photos.