Inevitably, we all go through periods in our lives where we are simply stretched thin. You know what I’m talking about, you have 50 things that MUST get done this week and you’re only going to get half of them done. Sometimes we do this to ourselves (like a bunch of jerks), but sometimes the universe just has plans for us that we have no control over. I am currently spread pretty thin (mostly by my own doing), and I’m here to offer you some ideas for keeping your sanity intact the next time you find yourself with too much to do and too little time.
First of all, you have to focus on the big picture. Really. Close your eyes and spend a few minutes imagining what it will be like when you are done with all the things that are currently on your plate. Think about all the benefits. Maybe you are remodeling a house and you will have a nicer living space. Maybe you are finishing a degree and you will get a raise/promotion/good job. Maybe you are hosting for the holidays and you will get many wonderful memories. Spend some time thinking concretely about every good thing that will happen because you are spread so thin right now.
Thinking like this helps me put things into perspective. Sure I might be running around like a chicken with my head cut off NOW, but sometime relatively soon I will have a whole host of new wonderful things in my life. Concentrating on those wonderful things makes hectic days seem a lot more manageable.
The other thing on the list is exercise. You knew it was coming. I can’t recall a single time in my life that I regretted getting exercise, but I can think of plenty of times I’ve talked myself out of going on a jog because I’ve got too much to do. My favorite exercise when I’m really busy and stressed is good old-fashioned walking. I know what you’re thinking. “Walking!?! That’s not even real exercise! How could losing 30 minutes of my day to prancing around the neighborhood possibly lower my stress level?!”
You’d be surprised. Walking really helps you re-center yourself. It’s not just me, either. There’s been a bunch of research on the topic and pretty much 100% of everyone enjoys the benefits of walking. What benefits? Lower stress. Better focus. It’s easier to fall asleep at night. And the list goes on and on. People used to walk for health reasons a lot more than they do now. In fact, they used to have a word for leisure walks to promote health.
Constitutional (noun; dated): a walk, typically one taken regularly to maintain or restore good health.
Talking a constitutional can really provide you a lot of benefits any time. But when you are stressed out and feel like you have no free time, it becomes even more important to make room in your schedule for one. Not to mention that you’ll finally have a phrase to say when walking out the door wearing your top-hat and monocle, “I’m off for a constitutional, my dear. Tell Theodore I shan’t make our bridge game.”
I’ve been using both of the above to help me through this extremely busy time, and they are both helping save my sanity, I assure you. And hey, why not combine the two? When you take off for your constitutional try to devote the entire 20-30 minutes to thinking about all the benefits you’ll get after you make it through the trial-by-fire. I guarantee that you’ll come back feeling more relaxed, more focused, less stressed, and ready to knock some things off your to-do list.