It is one of those mornings I sit down to write without a plan, without even a fragment of an idea. I woke with my mind buzzing around all I have to do today. It was tempting to let the buzzing take over, to eschew my normal Tuesday morning routine in favor of a little bit of extra time to work.
It’s always been easy for me to equate getting things done with taking care of myself, because it makes me feel good to get things done. I always have and probably always will derive satisfaction from feeling productive, from feeling accomplished, from coming up with a plan and sticking to it. This quality makes it easy for me to put my head down and churn out work and be successful, more often than not. This quality also makes it hard to rest, to relax, to recharge. More importantly, it’s hard to fully let go of that buzzing. Even if I’m resting on the couch and reading or watching tv, even if I’m sitting on the beach, even if I’m on a tranquil walk or on a run, things that rest and revive the body, my mind is still buzzing. I’m probably thinking of things I could/should be doing, instead. I’m probably feeling restless. I’m probably viewing whatever it is I’m doing as just another thing to check off a list before moving to the next thing. I’m probably not fully present in the moment of stillness.
Even this morning, keeping to my schedule is feeling like just checking the “Tuesday blog” box on my to-do list.
For a personality type like mine, it’s always hard finding the balance between knowing I find comfort in lists and plans and doing, and allowing myself to acknowledge and nurture that, with having the rejuvenation time I need for my body and mind to stay healthy.
It’s a catch-22: I can plan downtime, which then becomes just another task to get done, but if I don’t have it as part of my plan, I can slip into guilt over doing nothing rather than doing something that is apparently more productive.
And then I become depressed and exhausted because I’m not finding the rest I really need.
The way I see it, I have these options:
1- Work on being less of a planner. I highly doubt this is even possible, and I’m not sure I’d want to take that part of me away. What I can try to do is separate my feeling of self-worth with whether or not I get everything done.
2- Work on my mindset that rest = nothing. It’s easier for me to do this with physical rest – I know that recovery is just as important as the training. I struggle with turning off the part of my brain that ruminates over work, over chores, over tasks that I could/should be doing, and the contradiction is that the more I ruminate, the more overwhelming it seems to do anything, and so I continue to do nothing. I think if I was more fully present in the moments of rest, I’d feel energized and ready to tackle the rest of my life.
3- Find the moments of peace in the things on the list that I want to do rather than have to do so they don’t also become chores. Otherwise, running, spending time with J, connecting with friends and family, writing, all seem like have-tos rather than want-tos. Again, that balance between wanting things on the calendar so that they happen and being so rigid that my entire life becomes a chore.
4- Give up something. In the midst of an intense work period, I could also give up the morning writing or the race training or the social events. A few months ago, I knew that I wouldn’t be running enough to train like I’d want, so I let that go (to some extent). I hated that it seemed that was my only option. I worry that would become a recipe for becoming resentful and bitter about my schedule right now, if it seemed like the balance was that skewed. So I want to do what I can, knowing that I’m maintaining things in my life that I do solely for me and for no one else. Work right now is all about other people, so the thought of not carving out time to do the things I love just seems unbearable.
5- Practice mindfulness and gratitude. See #2 and 3. I’d like to have the tools to catch myself when I start pushing through my to-do lists without looking up.
I wrote a few months ago about the hummingbird – about how it’s active even at rest. I look to that as an example, not because I want to mindlessly flit about from one thing to another for no reason but to be moving or doing. No – I want to be mindful in knowing that my mind can be at ease when moving through my day, so that the buzzing quiets and my own voice telling me what’s important and what I need can come through.
Does this sound like you? Tell me how you quiet your mind and stay healthy!