Right now I am working on practicing compassion with myself. Last week ended up being a much harder and busier week than anticipated with some really energy-draining situations. Weeks like that are my least favorite kind. So instead of mentally beating myself up for feeling exhausted and low, I’m learning how to let myself just be and taking care of myself along the way.
Now that I am back in school and am balancing my education with a full-time job, blogging, starting my own business, and trying to have a healthy, well-balanced life outside of these things I find myself feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment. That’s especially why lots of deep breathing, restful sleep, and practicing compassion with myself is vital right now.
What do you do when you feel overwhelmed in your life? I thought it might be fun to share my top tips for surviving the busy times in life and I’d love to hear yours.
1. Take things slow.
When I start getting really busy I find myself rushing around a lot. Rushing through my workout. Rushing from the gym to work. Rushing home from work to work on more projects. Rushing to get ready for bed. The rushing never ends because I continually feel like I am fighting for more time in my life.
Instead, my new strategy is to take it slow. I now focus on enjoying my time because chores, workouts, and work take the same amount of time if I rush through it or not. But by slowing down, I feel more at peace and less stressed.
2. Rely on your support system.
Having a strong support system is vital for everyone, but it’s really important to be able to lean on these people in busy, stressful times. At the moment I’m learning how to let things go and be able to delegate more to my partner. Instead of me doing most of the housework, errands, and care-taking for our cats, she’s going to be taking on more of these responsibilities. My learning curve then is to learn how not to micromanage her doing these tasks and actually step back so that she can step up. For someone who usually tries to be in control of everything in their life, this is a little harder for me than it sounds.
3. Stop the pressure of “right now.”
My to-do list feels daunting most days and sometimes everything feels like it has to get done right now. Instead of jumping from task to task and trying to get everything done as quickly as possible, I prioritize which tasks are most urgent and do those first. Everything else then gets assigned a time when it will get done and then I have to hold myself accountable to finishing it at that time. I think this is especially helpful for when I am in the middle of an urgent project and something comes up. Instead of stopping that project to respond to an email or starting a new task, I really stop and evaluate if it is urgent. Most of the time, it isn’t.
4. Make your time benefit you.
I work out every morning at 5 am and I usually enjoy my workouts because they help me to feel energized, less stressed, and ready for my day. However, at the end of last week, I began to dread them. So, instead of waking up and forcing myself to go the gym, I took two days off and slept in an hour and a half instead. Wow that made a difference. The key was to actually let myself enjoy the sleep and know that my body needed some extra time to rest. It definitely worked because by Saturday I was up at my usual time, full of energy, and looking forward to my workout again.
Maybe this example of workouts doesn’t apply to your life, but I do think it’s important to pick and choose how to use your time to benefit you the most. Maybe one day you need more sleep and that is more important than finishing some task. Maybe another day you need to kick yourself off of Twitter, Pinterest, and Foodgawker (ahem, guilty) so that you have more time to focus on bigger projects. The point is that when we use our time to take care of ourselves and listen to what we really need in that moment, we feel a lot better.
6. Set aside time for fun.
Fun is so important and when I get busy it’s usually the first thing to get kicked off my list. Instead, this week I made sure to schedule in some down time, whether it was tea with a friend or just playing with my cats. After all, fun is what makes life worth living. Don’t you think?
7. Keep meals simple.
I really believe in the value of home-cooked food and so I rarely eat out except once or twice a month. This isn’t usually a problem, but it definitely becomes more challenging when my schedule fills up. These are some of my top quick meals that help keep me nourished, sane, and ready to get on with my to-do list.
Pineapple fried quinoa has become a staple at my house. It’s super easy to make the quinoa ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until I’m ready to assemble this. Then I just prep the other ingredients, throw them into a pan, and out pops dinner.
This lentil loaf is my secret for nights when I won’t be home and I want to keep my partner from ordering a pizza or thinking that ice cream counts as dinner. This is the perfect make-ahead recipe and then it can be stored in the fridge until you are ready to bake it. Definitely easier than ordering pizza, right? Well, almost.
I don’t eat tofu very often, but when I do, I really love this lemon pepper tofu recipe. It comes together in minutes and involves ingredients that I always seem to have on hand. No extra trips to the grocery store? Big bonus in my book.
Where would I be without salad? Salad always seems to find its way into my meal rotation and is perfect for quick and easy lunches at work. This warm winter squash salad is one of my favorites and it’s super easy to make the lentils and squash ahead of time (omit the pomegranate if it’s too much work) and just throw it in some tupperware and off to the office it goes.
Keep it simple with a big bowl of soup, like this corn and potato soup. Every Sunday I make a big pot of soup so it can be reheated for quick meals throughout the rest of the week. Bonus if you have time to make this hearty cornbread with it.
Even if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, a tad exhausted, and needing a big vacation (or a big drink) at the moment, a little compassion for yourself, a good night’s sleep, and some delicious food can do wonders.