Updated: Jul 5
The world we live in tries every day to tell us what we need, what we must do, how we must spend our money and our time. But the fact is - only you can decide what you will and won't do in order to get the most out the life you've been given. Over-committed? Frazzled with too much to do and too little time to do it? Mind-blocked and just trying to get to the end of the day? Maybe you do not have any of these issues, and if you don't I congratulate you. But a good guess tells me that most people feel at least part of the time like they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. And truth be told, some of us thrive on that. We feel rewarded when we are busy, running here and going there, with practices, appointments, and commitments, overbooked and over-pulled in every different direction.
List-Lover that I am, I recently signed up for a “list challenge”. There were several tracks to follow and, since the assignments were pretty light and non-demanding, and not wanting to miss anything, I had the fleeting thought of choosing ALL of them, which would involve nine lists per week. Thankfully, something in me snapped, and I chuckled to myself, “There you go again.”, right after I screeched, “Are you crazy? It says to pick one!”
As a (mostly) reformed perfectionist and overachiever, I am relieved to say that the word NO is now in my vocabulary in places it didn’t exist in the past. Over the years I have become able to see that when you say no to one thing, you are saying yes to something that is better for you, better for your family, and better for your time and sanity. It is so easy to take on more and more in this busy life. We want it all and we want it now. I recently found a quote that has given me much food for thought: "You can do anything, but not everything."
Truthfully, I did not always know this. After all, it’s pretty easy to sign up for something, go overboard, try too hard, want it absolutely perfect, and then end up as a stressed-out bundle of overwhelm trying to juggle just too many plates.
If you are ready to back away from that precipice, here is a list (you knew it was coming, right?) of 18 things you can do today to start slowing things down and feeling like you're on top of the world instead of crushed beneath it. One baby step at a time, you can learn to enjoy this life that you’ve been given. I made this little list of ways that you (and I) can relax and say yes to what is the most important. Enjoy, take on a few of them, but whatever you do---don’t try to do them all….
#1 - Unsubsribe: Go into your email and unsubscribe from 10 email ads you are subscribed to. Go ahead. When you're done you will be relieved of many future emails that would otherwise be begging for your time and brain space.
#2 - Save Time By Working Out At Home: Unless you’re training for something big, you can get a workout in at home. Take 30 minutes or so to just MOVE. If you have a treadmill, workout machine, or free weights, use them. In the time it would take you to get to the gym and back, you could be finished and fit. (I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to the gym, just that if your time is pressed and you’re trying to find ways to fit everything into your life, this is a valid way to do that)
#3 - Keep It Simple: The very next time you sign up to take a food item to something, DO NOT overthink it. Keep it simple and be happy with that. No Pinterest-surfing, no laboring over it. Promise me.
#4 - Give Some Time: Take a treat or a gift to someone who is hurt or ill. A game is a great idea. And then stay long enough to play it with them. That will be the best gift ever!
#5 - Relax: When you have time off or a vacation, stop planning out every minute. Let it happen, and enjoy yourself. Don’t make yourself everyone’s activity slave.
#6 - Stop Reading: If you are reading a book and realize that it’s not doing anything for you, make the decision to stop reading and put the book away.
#7 - Put Down The Phone: That app on your phone is not going anywhere. So look up and see your family’s faces, expressions, and hear, really hear what they are saying. Put the phone out of sight for at least a designated period of time. And do it again tomorrow.
#8 - Use What You Have: Cook a simple but nutritious dinner with ingredients you already have in the cupboard, frig, or freezer. If it’s weird, it’s weird. You will all live.
#9 - Encourage: Stop what you’re doing and reflect on what you are here for. You were not created to run around in a frenzy just to get through a day. What can you do today for someone else? A word or a simple action can mean the world to another person who is struggling.
#10 - Get Face To Face: Keep the electronics away from the family dinner table. Look at each other, ask questions about your family, and see them as individual people. You should know them better than anyone else in the world. Do you?
#11. Play With Your Pet: They love you and want to see you happy. Doesn’t playing with your puppy always make you smile?
#12 - Form Some Good Habits: Make a simple written morning routine that includes getting yourself ready for the day, cleaning up the kitchen and any clutter through the house, moving for some simple exercise, maybe 2-3 very small home tasks, such as 1 load of laundry, dusting 1 room, wiping down a bathroom, and/or vacuuming a room. It may take 2 hours total - but when you’re done, you have done your housework for the day. What a feeling of accomplishment to start any day with!
#13 - Child's Play: Do something fun with your child. I'm not talking an organized trip to the zoo or museum. Just play with them. Any kind of game or just silliness will do. Laugh with him or her, and see if it doesn’t make everything better.
#14 - Don't Overthink It: Gift baskets are fun to give and fun to get. But don’t try to overthink or overfill it. Four to six nice items are perfect. And they really don’t even have to match a theme at all, so stop trying so hard. As for wrapping? Put it in a gift bag, or a basket or box covered with tissue paper. Nothing special to you is something special to the recipient.
#15 - Give Kisses: On the way home from a hard day, think about what you appreciate about your mate. Kiss him when you both get home.
#16 - Browse the Memories: Take some time to look through old pictures. You will get the sense of years passing, realizing that the time you are spending now will be what you look back on in the future. Make some memories every day.
#17 - Work First, But Only For Awhile: Take the first hour home from work to get all of your chores done- not necessarily everything in the world, and not necessarily to perfection. Just done. And then quit. For real. Everyone needs a little downtime each day.
#18 - Breathe deeply: All the way in….and all the way out, whenever you find yourself taking shallow or irregular breaths because of the stress around you. That’s it. Breathe.
Just try some of these and just see if you don’t feel better, calmer, less stressed. If you have started to find yourself in a lather because of overcommitment, it’s time to start to follow these 18 ideas and add your own techniques to them for staying outside of that overwhelm that seems to exist all around us. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below….!
Oh, and those bananas? The ones that are turning dead brown and juicy? You can just throw them out. Unless that is, you were really wanting some banana bread and have the time today, in fact right now to make it. But if you weren’t, and you don’t, then don’t bother.