So many of us live from one crisis to another; we are running from putting out fires all over our lives. We have become so accustomed to this lifestyle that we feel the most in control when we are “handling the situation.” But this habit is exhausting. Dealing with the crisis may be exhilarating but it leaves us feeling drained. And because of this lifestyle we have adopted, we add things to our to-do lists that really aren’t necessary. We only know how to feel rushed and busy and overwhelmed. I think a lot of us have forgotten how to not be constantly rushing from one task to another.
My son is four. If you have ever met a four-year-old, you know they are basically miniature drunk college kids. Their emotions are like roller coasters and hell hath no fury like a four-year-old who wanted the green cup, not the red one. My kiddo is easy to cry. After many temper tantrums explaining that “pitching a fit” should be reserved for very important issues, I started asking him immediately upon tears “Is it that important?” If it is, we go into his room to cry, cuddle and talk about this situation. But most of the time, no, it’s not that important and he can collect himself. Temper tantrum averted.
This is also how I deal with the stress. Is it that important? Between all of the responsibilities of life, family, and work, sometimes trivial things can really get me stressed and overloaded. That’s not good, especially for me. I have to take a moment to put things into perspective or I will be the person up at 2am doing crazy tasks that just…really…aren’t important.
- Is it that important that I get to clean every window in my house before family arrives to stay? Not enough to stress about. If it happens, great. If not, great.
- Is it that important that I attend a work-related function with I have family activities planned? No, I will not be fired for not attending.
- After working a 10-hour day, is this side project or partial client more important than being fully mindful of night activities with my kiddo? No, not at all.
- Is it important to stress about making a perfect DIY costume for the kiddo at Halloween? Yes, it is a favorite tradition of mine!
- Is it important to stress and rush to finish a work project that will only result in a half-assed job? No.
- Is this text message more important than what my kiddo is currently trying to show me? No.
- Is it important to drag yourself to the grocery store to grab some produce after working all day? Yes, I cannot survive on wine alone, even when I try. But do I need to drive like a mad-woman to get there, gathering road rage, and fuming at the people taking up the entire grocery aisle just to save 5-minutes? No…
You have to stop and consider what is a real crisis and what you have elaborated in your mind. Most importantly, walk away from a situation that is not important. Turn off your phone. Go outside. Move. Breathe.
One of the quickest ways to stress me out is when I create a to-do list for life, not work. Usually, I begin feeling so overwhelmed by a “to-do” list because all of the tasks listed are WORK passed my usual work. So I have had to start flipping some of these typical “to-dos”. I make trips to the store family-oriented by picking up one item specifically bought for each of my family members. I turn chores into more productive movement sections; 20 squat jumps, 20 push-ups, and 20 mountain climbers for each room vacuumed. And I have to admit that walking the dog is so much more fun with your kiddo screaming in joy as they hatch Pokemon eggs; the pace may be much slower than going alone but those happy sounds are far more important to hear than saving a few extra minutes on that walk.