Mid-December doesn’t seem to be the most relaxing time. You run into a store for a few things and the angst of the people around you is almost palpable. As you speed around, the anxiety is fed and bolstered not only by all the other rushing people but by the list that is tick-tick-ticking in your head.
You have to pick up 3 more gifts and come up with some idea of what to get your dad, or your sister, or your teenage nephew.
The weekend schedule is already full of activities and obligations.
You got out of work late because everyone has realized that they have met their deductible for the year and now it is URGENT that they get in to be seen before their benefits reset on Jan 1st. So now you have less time than you thought.
And maybe, just maybe, you should do something about the fact that your fridge is currently only storing condiments and a couple of expired yogurts.
On top of all this, that salad that was a great idea at lunch time is no longer holding you as you are running around, 6 hours later.
So what do we do about it?
I would love to suggest delegating some of these things, taking a break, scheduling more free time. If you can do all that, my guess is you wouldn’t be reading this.
But what if you could do all of these things AND be relaxed?
(without benzodiazepines of course)
With some small practices, you can do just that. It sounds amazing, right?
The key is to be where you are.
(Ummmm, where else would we be? Is this some kind of trick?)
It sounds nonsensical to say “be where you are.” But when we are physically rushing to the next thing or mentally planning the next 4 things it takes us out of the present moment.
This totally isn’t a problem, unless you want to feel relaxed.
Then it is the WHOLE problem.
Think of the last time you were waiting in a long line. What were you doing during that time? What were you thinking about?
And did you feel relaxed?
For ease of explanation, I will put it in 4 easy steps.
1. Constrain yourself to one thing at a time, to what you are actually doing. For illustration, it’s like a child doing homework AND texting AND getting up for a snack AND listening to music. It’s easy to see why they are stressed out- they are splitting up their attention and not doing any one thing. So whatever you are doing, take a minute to really be present with that. Even if it is waiting in line or sitting in traffic or wrapping presents.
2. Be grateful for what you are doing. Really dig in and think about it. Start a mental checklist (or even a physical one in your phone.)
I am grateful I found these gifts in this store.
I am grateful for the person I am giving this gift to because…
I am grateful that I have this extra time in the car to listen to a podcast or chat with my friend on the phone.
This strategy is particularly helpful. Thinking of the people who are being affected by whatever you are doing and why you are grateful for them is a game changer. If you are waiting outside the dance studio because class ran late, can you check off a list of why you are grateful that your child can take dance? Can you be so grateful that you can pay for dance lessons?
Can you tap into gratitude that you have this child to wait for? Some are not so lucky.
Or maybe you are running around the grocery store and gratitude is too much of a disconnect from focusing on your list. This is when you can just use your other senses to help you be where you are and settle into enjoying the moment (while being productive.) Try to notice ALL THE THINGS. Can you appreciate the fully stocked shelves? Can you take a moment to really see all the beautiful cakes while you walk past to the deli? Can you admire the rainbow of colors in the produce section? Can you take a minute to actually see all the fun cereals from your childhood and smile- even though you are picking up oatmeal and not Captain Crunch? (We only were allowed to have Captain Crunch on vacation.)
Sure, these approaches won’t make the line move faster or the traffic go away but it will make you FEEL better. Isn’t that the goal, to be productive AND feel relaxed?
3. Plan for success instead of stress. WHAT??? Why do we plan to be stressed out? If you can change the narrative from “I have so much to do” to “ I am doing all the things and I can enjoy it” your whole experience will change. Of course, this is way easier said than done but literally sticking a post-it on the dashboard may be the only reminder you need. (Side note, I am super grateful for post-its.)
4. Be aware of what you need in the moment. Or if you have trouble relating to the woo woo “listen to the needs of your body,” my literal translation is “pack a snack and when you have to pee, find a bathroom.” Plan to support yourself in this time so that your success isn’t sabotaged by starvation or urinary retention.
Try these things, it won’t take any time away from what you are doing now.
This time of year can be magical for us too…
if we can just be where we are.
Not feeling the magic but wishing you could? Schedule a consultation, this is what I do best :)