I looked at the schedule and it’s travel madness through next freaking June…. Actually, when I started the draft for this article a fe months ago, that read April. I am bad at calming things down. Sure, there’s some mini-down time broken into that—like a couple days in Paris next week that I’ve been stoked about for a month. But in general, it’s sort of a hamster wheel of go-go-go. And almost all the time, that’s how I like it. (Notice that when I started writing this, it was booked til April. Now, it’s June. I could have shifted yoga teacher training to next year, or decided against joining a crit team, but I didn’t. Full steam ahead.)
I’ve been traveling like a maniac all fall, and I realized something: the only time I can’t get all of my work done is when I let overwhelm actually seep in and get to me. Which, unfortunately, does happen sometimes. But usually, I’ve realized, it’s in response to the fact that I’m not taking enough down time, even in small pockets.
And I’m not talking about ‘self-care’ where I do yoga or a mud mask or meditate or any of those healthy habits. (I still do those and they’re great.) I’m talking about taking down time in the way that makes me feel the most relaxed, which usually means watching Arrested Development with Peter and a glass of wine, or something equally cheesy. And then I feel bad about taking that time. I mean, I could be reading a self-help book or ‘working on growing as a person,’ or whatever. But hey, maybe I need a minute.
Sure, we have more time than we realize. I catch myself with that few minutes or couple hours—especially in the evening—where I know I could do another blog post, we could do another interview, I could work on the next Shred Girls book… But I just want to watch a damn TV show.
I don’t think the response to free time should be to cram more stuff in. I think the response should be to notice, appreciate, and make the most of that downtime, whether it’s doing a quick yoga set or just chilling and reading a chapter in a novel or watching an episode of Frasier (or, you know, whatever.).
My point is absolutely not that we should be more productive if we’re already feeling overwhelmed. It’s that looking for—and finding—those small pockets, whether it’s 5 minutes or 30 minutes, and taking full advantage of them, guilt-free, may help reduce said feeling of overwhelm. The to-do list can wait a few extra minutes, especially if it’s ‘found time.’
RELATED: Can You Be Overwhelmed and Underwhelmed at the Same Time?
OK, let me know in the comments: am I the only one who has to convince herself not to feel guilty when she stops working after 7PM?
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