Rest - This Overachiever's Mt. Everest
Lately I have felt like a prisoner to my to do list. Maybe it is the new year and resolutions and all that, but I have an overwhelming need to get things done these days. Well, if I’m being entirely honest with myself... I feel that way most of the time. I’m starting to realize I’m a bit of an overachiever. Those that know me and are reading this are probably laughing because - duh. But hey, self awareness is a journey. I’ve started to notice this relationship I’m having with my to-do list and I’ve determined it’s an unhealthy one at this point. I feel pressure to check boxes, but no relief once I do. Occasionally things are good, but it always turns sour the next morning when it starts all over again. It has weighed on my mind for a few months now and I’ve been trying to decide what it is I can do about it.
A few weeks ago I caught the plague that was going around my office and community. A really fun cold/flu/virus thingy that took over my body for about a week and a half. Now fully recovered, I’ve been thinking about what happened to me when I got sick. Not the symptoms of my cold, but rather the inner anguish I had when it came time to really, truly rest. It was similar to the dread of my terrible to-do list. What’s going on here? I had to go full Nancy Drew on this investigation...
Here’s the cycle when things are not going so well:
1. Pressure myself to get things done.
2. Become overwhelmed by the volume of things to get done.
3. Watch TV while beating myself up about not getting things done.
4. Get upset with myself for not having gotten all the things done, then eat.
5. Watch more TV while restless and staring at phone.
6. Get a terrible nights sleep.
7. Wake up and start over.
8. Get sick.
A simple 8 step process to becoming ill and having anxiety - sounds fun, right? To give myself credit though, I have been trying to tackle these messy relationships I have with achievement and rest. Here are some things that have helped:
Yoga - In 2018 I started going to a yoga class a friend from high school teaches through the rec center. I notice that by getting into my body and breath - my mind quiets. It is really helping my back, my overall flexibility, and my sleep! It is also helping me with setting intentions and remembering “practice not perfection”.
Gym - I’m getting better and better at actually going to this place that takes my money each month. I know it’s illogical, but I have an aversion and I’m working through it. It would be one thing if I hated it once I was there, but I almost always feel infinitely better after a workout. Again, it’s an opportunity to get out of the head and into the body, and just like yoga, I find the gym helps me clear away the clutter of thoughts. Then I find I can focus and actually get some stuff done without all the restlessness.
Meditation - I haven’t been as great about it since the holidays, but I have really enjoyed using the Headspace app for meditation, especially in the mornings before work. Recently I was doing a series on ‘letting go of stress’, and it mentioned how the exercise given to you is just that - an exercise. So whatever is going on inside of you during the exercise (for me, that’s a whole heck of a lot of chatter and running down of my many lists) is a mirror of what’s going on inside the mind. It was daunting to me. How am I to quiet this? Turns out the answer is practice. It won’t happen overnight, but by practicing stillness and quieting down with Headspace, I’m actually seeing the improvement. My ability to write this reflective blog post about rest, for instance, is most likely because of this. (*repeats over and over: practice not perfection, practice not perfection.)
Writing - You are helping me infinitely just by reading this - yes, you! By writing it - I was able to process my thinking and take what has been whirling around in my head for a week and a half. I also was able to be brave and dare to be myself - out loud and on paper. This is when I feel most myself and feel like I’ve really accomplished something. Maybe I do the dishes and maybe I don’t - but I wrote today. Now I can rest.
Now some Resources!
Peep this video about how the way we view stress is directly linked to how it affects us. It has really helped me re-work my to do list so that it feels like a good thing:
Click the image to hear one of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday podcasts with Brene Brown - it touches on how rest and play (and creativity!) are essential to wholehearted living. Also I just really love Brene:
Also… are you guys watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix?? I’ve begun to clear the physical clutter in my house and what a difference it makes on the internal clutter - highly recommend!
I wish you all a restful February! Let me know what works for you! Happy Creating!