When someone asks you how life is going, how often do you heave a sigh and say "busy"? Not an abundant busy, but a "PLEASE take something off of my plate" busy.
If we aren't paying attention, our schedules can easily fill past our comfort. We find ourselves going from bed to work, from work to our next obligation, and finally rolling in the door at night with little energy to hear ourselves think. Our weekends can feel packed to the gills with things that seem mandatory, until even social commitments with people we like can become part of that frustrated sigh.
There's nothing inherently wrong with being busy, unless our schedules become so frenetic that we're almost always "on". When we have no opportunity to recharge our inner battery our immunity, emotional resilience, and sense of calm tend to take a nosedive.
Mindfully managing our busy-ness is particularly important during the holiday season, when many of us take on extra social and family commitments. This time of year the fear of disappointing others can feel so strong that it seems like we have no choice but to accept invitations and responsibilities, dragging our resentment along behind us.
Instead of feeling burdened, one of the many ways you can give yourself permission and space to enjoy this (and every) time of year is to take ownership of your schedule. If you're feeling overwhelmed with all of the things you have to do, take a moment to step back and look at your commitments more objectively. What is truly mandatory on your calendar? If you were to treat yourself like a loved one, where would you dedicate time to recharge?
While you may be able to compromise by rescheduling a meeting or postponing coffee with a friend, sometimes owning your schedule means saying a kind "no" to someone else in order to say "yes" to self care.
When you hit your limit and reach burnout, you are no longer able to bring your best self to the relationships and activities you love. That's why it’s not selfish to cancel evening plans for a night on your own, or even block an entire Saturday so you can slow down and breathe.
During your brief time on this planet you deserve care and nourishment just as much as anyone else does. Your calendar will keep on filling up until you choose to stop it. Just say when.
If you're used to pleasing others above yourself, the thought of disappointing someone with a "no" might have you in a cold sweat. Give yourself permission to stay the course if it feels better to you right now.
But if you're craving change, it may help to reassure yourself that saying "no" gets easier with practice. When you're in the habit of saying "yes" when you mean it and "no" when you don't, some cool shifts may start to happen.
Your time with others will mean less resentment and less faking it.
The holidays ahead will feel more like something to anticipate than to dread.
It will be easier to be mindfully present and immersed in the here and now.
You'll start to feel that you're leading your life, instead of letting life happen to you.
So if you're up for a challenge, I invite you to join me:
Tap into your care for yourself and sincere goodwill for others, and remove one burdensome commitment from your calendar. Just one.