Sheri’s Rants # 53: Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

Posted on September 4, 2011 by

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By the time I’d received my last wake- up call, I was spending a great deal of my earnings to maintain my body so that I could continue to over-work.  Weekly appointments for acupuncture, therapeutic massage, chiropractic, and a naturopathic doctor – it was now costing me a pretty penny to keep my overwhelmed endocrinal system from taking me out.

I did the math and had a ‘come to Jesus’ moment of clarity about my self-value.  It occurred to me that if backed down on the external demands, my struggling body would stand a chance.  Up to that point, meeting the well-meaning expectations of everyone else was killing me.  I was swimming hard upstream and my body was waving several white flags, the final of which was my second pre-cancer diagnosis.

I’d been a busy woman.  I’d been a busy woman for years.

 Melissa is a busy woman.  She complained to me frequently that there ‘aren’t enough hours in the day’.  “If only I had more time” she’d moan, “I could squeeze in some time for me.  This extra 60 lbs. on my body looks terrible, my back hurts, I just went on meds for my blood pressure, and I don’t even have time to shop for bigger clothes.”

She was recently laid off from her job.  Two weeks later, we spoke again.  I asked her how it felt, to now have all the free time on her hands.

“What free time?” she demanded, “I have no idea how I found the time to work!”

Rex’s family and friends complain to him that he is not present.  In a room with loved ones, he keeps his smartphone in his palm and texts during conversations.  “What?” he says, “I’m right here!”  His ailing grandmother asked him to leave her hospital room and ‘take that thing with you.’  Rex was angry.  “Hey!” he said to relatives in the room, “I have a LIFE!”

We’ve become a nation of multitaskers because we believe that the more we accomplish, the richer our lives will be. But the truth is that the more we multitask, the less happy, creative and rested we are.  Our relationships suffer.

We are effectively addicted to having too much to do.  Many of us feel validated by a full schedule and there is an increasing tendency among us to judge our self worth and sense of achievement on how active we are.

 Are YOU too busy?

  1. Do you greet people with a tirade of how very busy you are?
  2. Do you complain about being ‘stressed’ or ‘crazy busy’?
  3. Do you get out of bed in the morning already looking forward to when you can climb back in?
  4. Is your ‘downtime’ scheduled?
  5. Are you sacrificing quality food for the sake of convenience when you feed your family?
  6. When you have a day off, do you crave more activity?  Do you feel restless and unable to slow down and enjoy yourself?
  7. How often do you moan that there ‘aren’t enough hours in the day’?
  8. Do you find it difficult to get through an actual conversation with someone without checking your phone/texts?
  9. Do you carry your smartphone with you at all times?  Are you anxious if you do not have it within your grasp?

Okay, so you’re still reading this article.  Your health, relationships or career may be on the line.  Here’s the path I followed to dig my way out of the hole:
Know Your Limits

Only you know how much stress you can take before you break.  For some, ‘breaking’ is becoming physically ill too frequently.  For another, it may be the red flag from important relationships, or feeling constantly irritated and angry.  And some wait for the really big diseases, like cancer.

Knowing your limits requires some self-care and attention so that you know the level that is unhealthy for you.  Don’t have time for self care?  Bingo.

Figure Out Where Your Time Goes

Fill out a calendar of an average week, filling in every hour of every day so you can look at it on one sheet of paper.  Include hours at work, doing household chores, taking care of children or other people, time sleeping and eating.  Be honest.  Then sit back and have a look at it.

Set Priorities

What are the five most important things in your life, and in what order?  (Hint: put you and your self-care at the top.  We can’t ‘give away what we don’t got’.)

Take that priority list and apply it to that schedule you drew up.  Does it match up?  What can you cross off your schedule to make more time for the things higher on your priority list?

Just Say No

Take the things you crossed off your list and say ‘no’ to them.  You can let folks know that you are prioritizing to save your sanity.  Or health.  Or relationships.

 Schedule Blank Time

This is very important.  We ALL need a little flexible time.  Stare at a wall, smell a rose, wander down the street, pull out a project you enjoy, or just sit and think.  This space provides the opportunity to heal on all levels – physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological.

If you feel there is value to the old saying ‘I’ll rest when I’m dead’, it may come sooner than you think.

Posted in: Sheri's Rants