A few weeks ago, I sat in my car after a full day of errands and realized I was tired. It didn’t take long to figure out why. I’d released three books this year, held a full-time job, and managed a family and home. Oh, and I faced the upcoming holidays, too. There was planning and baking and cooking to do, not to mention gift buying and wrapping. And, of course, there were also life’s every day stresses that came at me when when I wasn’t looking.
I was facing burnout, big time, and realized that unless I made some fundamental changes I was going to lose my sanity. So I retreated to my mindfulness and meditation books and rediscovered some wonderful tips that help make for a much quieter and peaceful mind.
- Accept that you’re feeling overwhelmed. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re bombarded with messages telling us that we’re not productive unless we’re multitasking. That we have to juggle three, four, or five things at once and we’re always supposed to be on the go if we’re going to get anywhere, literally or figuratively. But in case you haven’t noticed, the concept of multitasking is bull crap and unattainable. The brain and body are single processors. It’s how we’re designed, and for good reason. We’re not machines but living, breathing, feeling humans. So, when you’re feeling stressed, acknowledge that you’re feeling stressed. Stop what you’re doing, pay attention to the overwhelming emotion without judgement, and just be. Focus on your breath, the cool drawing in and the warm release, and keep breathing until the stress subsides. Then, when you have a clear head, refocus and move ahead.
Do one thing at a time. Reading email and talking on the phone and buying Christmas gifts online, all at the same time, stretches our brains and our emotional versatility too thin. Same for any other variation of juggled tasks. If you’re going to eat, then just eat. Don’t read email or watch TV while you do it. If you’re talking to someone, focus on that person. Same for work or shopping or cleaning the house or mowing the lawn. Whatever it is that you’re doing, focus on what you’re doing. Everything else can wait and will take place in time. In the end, doing so will make you feel less scattered and fragmented.
- Put down the smart phone. Seriously. Do you really need to check it every two, three, or five minutes? Think back to when smart phones didn’t exist. How did we survive? Umm, very easily and peacefully, thankyouverymuch. Smart phones have their uses and their time and their place–just not during every minute of every day. Same thing applies to being on your computer. Step away from the technology and go back to being human.
- Unless you have a hard deadline, put it off until another day. Not everything has to get done now. Assess what is your most critical task or need at the moment, and work on that and only that. Everything else can wait. Then lather, rinse, and repeat.
- Say no. Not only to others but to yourself as well! There’s a way to say no without being abrupt or rude, but saying no is critical to a sense of peace. It’s also very liberating. You’ll be surprised at how resilient and resourceful other people can be when you remove yourself from the picture.
Well, that’s the helpful list that was most top-of-mind for me. Have any other mindful techniques to share that can help bring peace back into what can be a very crazy time of the year? If so, please share. I’d love to know what works for you.
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