Is it just me or do the holidays have a tendency to throw us off balance?
We spent Thanksgiving in Arizona visiting family, and as soon as we came back it felt like life just picked up a few paces. I just can’t seem to catch up. The house is never clean enough, the laundry is never ending, work keeps piling up, and dinner creeps up on me before I’ve even had a chance to digest lunch.
I have a sneaking suspicion that as the end of the year approaches, things are only going to get more hectic. Christmas parties, decorating, gift shopping, holiday travel…as fun as it all is, holidays are definitely a time when life can get overwhelming.
I took some time to regroup and think about some ways that help me find balance when life gets overwhelming.
Plan ahead and have a schedule
Sometimes I feel like I spend more of my energy thinking about all the things I have to do, than actually doing them. The stress of whether I’ll be able to get everything done during the day eats away at me. I’ve noticed that having a routine makes things feel so much more manageable. Home chores are a breeze when they are broken down in chunks during the week. Meals become less stressful when you have created a meal schedule for the week. The more things you put on a schedule, the less you have to think about them, and the more energy you free up to focus on other things.
Wake up a little earlier…or at least when your alarm goes off
For a while there, common sense was telling me to set my alarm as late as possible to maximize my sleep time. Then I would proceed to hit snooze 3-4 times until finally stumbling out of bed. Now, I am working on doing quite the opposite. Instead of waking up later, I am actually setting my alarm 10 minutes earlier and trying to get out of bed as soon as humanly possible.
The reason? More important than maximizing my sleeping time is actually maximizing my awake time. 10 extra minutes of sleep is probably not going to do much in helping me feel more rested. 10 minutes of purposeful awake time does wonders for my awake hours.
What you do with those extra ten minutes is a personal decision and what works for each person will vary. But whatever you do should set the tone for the day.
Many people find value in morning meditation. I find value in taking 10 minutes to mentally prepare for the day. I think of what my overarching theme for the day is. Then I think about three goals that I’d like to accomplish.
For me, this step is all about establishing control. Think of the day as a person that you are about to interact with. If you stumble out of bed and don’t even have time to think about what that interaction will look like, guess who will be in control (hint: it won’t be you). You’ll be rushing to catch up from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, simply reacting to whatever comes your way. If you take 10 minutes at the beginning of the day to take control of your day and establish some goals, you will be the one in charge. You will be the one that sets off the chain of events that make up your day and you will be prepared for whatever comes your way because you will have already thought about it and prepared for it.
Take care of yourself physically
This one is an obvious one but it’s amazing how often we neglect it. I actually think I do the opposite of this when life gets overwhelming. Instead of making an effort to eat healthier, I eat whatever I can find and snack more often out of nervous energy.
So, today on my lunch break I headed to Trader Joe’s and loaded up on fruits and healthy snacks like almonds and nut thins. I figure if I get the urge to munch on something, it’s a lot better to reach over and grab an apple than to reach over and find nothing, thus resorting to another office vending machine visit.
I am also making a point to get some form of physical activity and Vitamin D on a daily basis. It’s amazing how good I have become at convincing myself that if I can’t make it to the gym or get a rigorous workout, I might as well not do anything at all! I am now working on convincing myself that if I can get out for a walk, even if it’s as short as 15 minutes, the benefit is twofold. Not only will I get my heart rate up and endorphins flowing, but I will also collect some much needed Vitamin D.
I hope these tips help you find some balance in your life! I’d love to hear what works for you.