The holidays are over, and it’s back to real life… and all the stuff I (we) didn’t do over the holidays. We were out of town for a week, and now it’s catch-up time. So, of course, everything is coming to a head. A big head. With a scowl on it. And a nasty attitude. There is so much to do and so very little time to do it.
Work is piling up as I try to catch up on all the new assignments and all the missed work time, we’re still finishing up the last few holiday celebrations with family and friends in town, we have to make room for new gifts the kids have gotten, which means sifting through our stuff and finding space in our small apartment. And in a few days it’s my youngest Smartling’s 6th birthday, and since it’s just after the holidays… our planning is usually not great. We’ve sort of tossed together a pseudo-party at the last minute (though luckily it’s precisely what he wants to do), but we still have to gather treats and a gift. And, of course, everything else from regular life that has to happen while all this is going on.
I’ve been doing my damnedest to stick to my own suggestions for surviving the holidays. And I’ve been trying to stick to it even after the holidays. I’ve been avoiding the Internet. I’ve been spending time with human people. I’ve been saying no. And still, friends, still there’s too much to do and too much going on.
Not to mention the news. And upcoming inauguration. Which…
Just before the holidays our very own Christina had an emergency-level migraine, and then she got the stomach flu. I’ve been go-go-going and actively fighting the desire to dig a hole in my couch and hide in it for the last month. THE HOLIDAYS, YOU GUYS. Why is it like this? And why does the overwhelmed feeling last well into the New Year?
We do too much. We expect too much. And so in the face of too much… WE COMBUST. Have you ever noticed that right when you have some time off… you invariably get sick? MMM-HMM. This vacation-illness phenomenon plagues teachers particularly badly, but I'm guessing that even the non-teachers among you have noticed that that much anticipated 4-day weekend often turns into the sniffles/sudden hack/tummy bug. We're wearing ourselves out, Smarties. Too much, too much, too much.
So… I’m in survival mode. Recharge mode. Trying to refill my tanks while I can before it’s too late. Join me, won’t you? Just follow along, friends.
MORE TIPS FOR SURVIVING.
1. Breathe. I have literally had to remind myself to stop and breathe multiple times in the last six weeks. When I get overwhelmed, I get paralyzed and I have a hard time getting past it. Stopping and breathing helps. I go back to the lessons I’ve worked on with my kids. Lion’s breath, yoga nostril breaths, chakra/color breathing, rainbow breaths, whatever. Doesn’t matter. JUST BREATHE. But I refuse to sing that annoying damn song. (Not the Pearl Jam song. That one's fine. The Anna Nalick one. ugh.)
2. Separate necessity from guilt. I need to think logically about all the crap on my plate and suss out what has to get done and what I just think has to get done. (Hint: A lot of it doesn’t actually have to get done. You might want to go to this reading and that march and that other lecture and also meet up with your friend that one night, but if doing ALL of that will overload you, it’s not a good idea.) This goes right along with Christina’s “Yes, And” resolution. There doesn’t have to be so much. Sometimes paring it down to the necessities is awesome.
3. Go out and do things that rejuvenate you. Like I said, I’ve been fighting the urge to bury my head in the sand (much like last year – link to old new years post), and so in order to avoid ostriching or hermiting, I’ve been stepping out the door to do things that help me feel alive and joyful and a little less like I’m going to vomit. (I learned this trick from Christina. It works.) My nervous belly knows no bounds, and it rears its ugly head every time I feel stressed or anxious or overwhelmed. BUT, I can generally override it by going into the world and doing something delightfully distracting. Getting lunch with a friend, watching a movie, going for a walk near the water, going to a museum… all are great options. Pick the one that makes you smile and then do it.
4. Take a sick day. Look. There are days when you just need a damn break. Take a damn sick day. Do it. It might be a pain in the ass briefly, but chances are it’ll help you in the long term. You can’t keep going nonstop forever. Everyone needs a break sometimes. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, you’re laughing your ass off at me right now because AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA WHAT SICK DAYS?!? But! I have a solution for you! If you have a Smartner, make them take a sick day! And make them help you and give you a break! OR, hire a babysitter or ask a friend or family member to take your kiddo so you can have a break. WE ALL NEED BREAKS. Take one.
My Smartner and I needed a vacation after our holiday vacation (doesn't everyone? WHY IS TRAVEL SO HARD?!?), so we've taken a few days off of work to breathe and look each other in the face and not run around like chickens with our proverbial heads cut off for two bloody seconds. It's been glorious. We spent an ENTIRE HOUR eating lunch the other day. And no one asked us to get up 45 times to get something else. And today we went to an ACTUAL ART MUSEUM and looked at beautiful things. Like the incredible YSL exhibit. Remember how I told you I love fashion? OMG I'M A PERSON I FORGOT. Just... take the sick day. You’ll breathe better afterward. I promise you.
5. Do what you need to do. Look that horrific To Do list in the eye and pick one thing to accomplish right now. Go ahead and be angry about it or anxious about it or annoyed about it, but just do the damn thing. Because after you do the damn thing, you will have one less thing to do. And that ALWAYS feels good. (And cross that damn thing off your list because I swear to you NOTHING IS MORE SATISFYING.)