Have you recently caught yourself wondering:
“How could we possibly be talking about the holidays already?”
“Where the hell did my summer go?”
“Why aren’t there more hours in a day?”
We are quickly approaching the time of year when stress levels go up as calendars get filled with holiday plans and to-do lists, so if you’re at the point of feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to take a beat and regroup. Here’s what you really need to be contemplating:
- When you truly take stock, what are the most important things in your life?
- How much time do you spend engaging in behaviors/activities that are in line with your greatest values?
- When you think about going into this holiday season, what percentage of time will be spent on the things that are the most meaningful to you?
If you don’t make these a priority, then they won’t be a priority – it’s as simple as that.
One way you end up feeling like your life is out of balance is when you feel overbooked, running from one thing to the next with no downtime. You need to provide yourself some space, some breathing room, AND you need to let go of some of the things you think you should be doing. Here are two vital ways you can reduce stress and recharge so you can enjoy yourself this winter (or anytime of the year!):
Make a To-Don’t list:
We are a culture of action. We write goals, make resolutions, and create action plans. For some folks (myself included) there is nothing more satisfying than crossing something off a to-do list. The problem with to-do lists is that sometimes you pile it up with so many things that it is absolutely impossible to check everything off. The worst part is that you still psychologically hold onto each and every one of those items. You feel the weight of it, and you feel like a failure if you didn’t get everything done, even though it was impossible to get it all done in the first place.
Your to-don’t list will be smaller than your to-do list, but it’s the more important list because it is essential for your mental health. Your to-don’t list includes things that you can commit to letting go of in order to provide some stress relief. It gives you permission to take some things off of your to-do list and permission to let go of destructive thoughts and expectations. You need to let yourself off the hook and free up that mental and emotional energy and put it to better use.
If you are a passionate and driven person that gets excited about striving towards goals, getting things done, and making things happen… it can be REALLY hard to give yourself time off. It almost feels uncomfortable and anxiety-producing to just do nothing. Which is EXACTLY why you need to be doing more of it. Your brain needs downtime to recharge. You need to have time when you are doing absolutely nothing. No agenda; just hanging out and being in the moment. You need dedicated downtime giving you a break from work, sport, and to-do lists. You also need to unschedule yourself so you have times where you will be free to choose what you feel like doing in the moment, versus feeling like you are a victim of your calendar.
If your calendar is cluttered with commitments, it’s time to do some unbooking. Unbooking guarantees you some free time because you are going to schedule it into your calendar and hold that time as sacred. Think about freeing up one afternoon a week or one weekend a month to unbook yourself.
Whether it comes from work, family, or watching the news; stress is stress and when you internalize it and move from dealing with stressors to feeling stressed, it will affect your health and your performance. These de-stressing tools are necessary to feel balanced. They are necessary to feel grateful for the amazing people in your life and the incredible abundance you have. They are necessary to keep the energy and motivation you need to get in your workouts and enjoy your sport. They are necessary for taking care of yourself and your relationships. And if you find that you are feeling dismissive of the idea and having a hard time doing this for yourself – then this is even more important for you.