First aid for mile long to-do list stress
A lot of the phrases I hear when I talk to super busy people about self care are, "I should," "I need to," "I have to," plus extremely loud sighs. If you're already overworked, having a laundry list of the stuff you've GOTTA do to take care of yourself can be overwhelming! How on earth can you get all of your work done, take the dog to the vet, run your errands, get the trash to the curb, pay the bills, drop off food for your sick neighbor, call your mom, AND feed yourself, exercise, meditate, journal, track your blood sugar, schedule doctor's appointments, have a heart-to-heart with a friend, draw compassionate boundaries with a demanding relative, and get a good night's sleep? (Phew - let me catch my breath!) There are days we find a nice balance. Some days, though, self care to-do’s don’t feel like care at all - they just feel like pressure. Sometimes taking care of yourself means dropping some stuff from the list.
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Tomorrow you may have more energy, space, or even time to do those things. But if you're overwhelmed and stressed out over doing everything today, it's time to give your nervous system some first aid instead. Give yourself permission to let go of a few things, then take some deep breaths. Ask yourself, “How do I want to feel?” Are you craving the feeling of peace? Joy? Freedom? Next, ask yourself, “How can I step into that feeling for 5 minutes?” Really. Just 5 minutes. If you’re craving peace, what is something doable, maybe even inviting, that will help you feel peaceful right now? You may find that putting on your headphones and listening to a favorite song, or walking down the street and breathing fresh air can bring you peace in just 5 minutes. Sorting your meds into a pill box so you don’t have to worry about them later or putting fresh sheets on the bed could bring peace, too. Five minutes may do the trick on its own, and sometimes it even opens the door to make other self care feel more manageable. Most importantly, taking the pressure off of yourself to do everything relieves stress, which is so important for your mental, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual wellbeing. Responding to how you want to feel can bring a surprising amount of relief. How will you spend 5 minutes? Leave a comment below and let me know!