The world is moving fast and many of us are sprinting to keep up with it, yet still feel like we are holding the back of the line. Its when you feel most overwhelmed that you most need to pause, ground and reflect – maybe even putter. This holiday weekend is the perfect opportunity to practice slowing down while still being active and doing most of the things you want to do!
If you are like me, you may receive the invitation to join friends, extend your professional responsibilities, support your kids activities, volunteer or even take care of yourself with enthusiasm and commitment. It’s wonderful and healthy to be involved and to connect with your community in engaging ways. But, how can we do this with out experiencing anxiety followed by burnout???
1. Down shift – When we rush our heart rate elevates and our sympathetic nervous system begins to kick in. Our body mobilizes for danger becoming hyper vigilant, stalling our digestive system and intellectual expansion. When you feel yourself spinning in circles to get everything accomplished, this is when you most need to pause, take that breathe and begin to move your body slower and with intention. It will get done. Prioritize, reorganize and do one thing at a time. As your body slows down, so will your mind follow. Creative solutions will emerge to help you better manage your time and responsibilities.
2. Focus – How does what you are doing support your goals and needs? Are you trying to please someone else, be perfect, or just dropping into habit? Determine the value and reward of how you spend your time and energy. We can nourish ourselves with an expansion of energy when we are focussed on a task or commitment that is meaningful to us. The reward is in the action more than the result. Focus on what is important.
3 – Fences – Set boundaries. Don’t say yes to everything!! And if you have no choice and absolutely must commit….
4 – Ask for help – Reach out and remember that others want to support you and your efforts. If you don’t ask, you won’t get the help you need. Maybe it means organizing a car pool, or assigning household tasks, or even planning a lunch date so that you can connect, be inspired and nourish your body with a good meal (yes you can pause for lunch and reset!) Next time when someone else needs a hand you will be there for them and equally happy to help.
5 – The joy of puttering – Thich Nhat Hahn, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, reminds us in his work for a creating a more peaceful world that every moment is an opportunity to be more present and at home in your life. The most simple of tasks, drying the dishes, pouring water to make a cup of tea, wiping the kitchen counter, walking the dog – all are invitations to be more present in the moment. This mindfulness practice expands off our yoga mat or meditation cushion into all aspects of our lives and becomes our true refuge for peace and balance. Instead of approaching your responsibilities with a feeling of heavy obligation – look toward them as opportunities to be more present and connected to your self. Find beauty and joy in the things you do and in the way you do them.
Consider that it is not what you are doing, but the person that shows up that is so much more important. Keep perspective by allowing yourself to step a bit back out of the forest and away from the trees. And move your body to release and reorganize energy. Even a fifteen minute walk can make a shift. Practice yoga and mindfulness techniques when you have more time available. The more you practice balance, grounding and expansion, the easier it will be to access these skills when you are in a crunch and need them. You will find that your time will expand or contract depending on your attitude, perspective and sense of presence.