Once upon a time, I had an addiction to busyness.
The instant gratification of striking through lines on mile-long to-do lists, the sense of accomplishment after sifting through an overflowing inbox of emails, the feeling of combating a day packed to the brim with back-to-back meetings—these were the things that kept my adrenaline pumping. Or, so I thought.
See, I was convinced I always had to be doing something, and if I did press pause on the constant flow of activity to you know, take a breather, I would essentially be wasting time. Precious, precious time.
Now, looking back, I realize how ridiculous that all sounds. That rush of emotion I consistently experienced wasn’t adrenaline. No, it was the jitteriness rippling through my veins thanks to the one-too-many cups of coffee I’d guzzle down to survive those lists, emails, and meetings. Aka a caffeine high.
After coming to the conclusion that my coffee intake was probably a bit too high for normalcy—OK, fine… wayyy too high—I decided to challenge myself to take a break. A break from caffeine and from the “on-the-go” lifestyle. As much as I struggled with the idea of rest, there was this voice of intuition whispering inside that if I didn’t start working diligently toward embracing periods of downtime, I’d be on the fast track to complete burnout.
I won’t lie, as someone who relentlessly plans ahead to the next challenge or chapter, forcing these break periods into my schedule has not been easy. But, it has been oh so worth it, not to mention I have learned quite a few new things about myself throughout the process. For starters, there is no way I can sustain the grueling pace I’d become used to speeding through each day with. And frankly, I don’t want to.
Since taking a step back, I now understand how common and easy it is to fall into this “busy” trap. In fact, this “State of Hustle” that so many of us have become swept away in is deeply embedded in the American culture. But because it is crucial we give our bodies the rest they need—and let’s face it, they deserve—I’m making it my mission to spread the word on the beauty of letting go.
So if you, too, are yearning to embrace the rhythm of rest in our culture of busy but aren’t quite sure how to get started, fear not, as I’ve got your back. Below are four simple ways I’ve uncovered to implement doses of downtime in even the most hectic of days.
1. Schedule “me” time on your calendar.
When our days are chock-full of things to do, most of us have a tendency to push ourselves to the backburner. We’ll eat on the go, get less sleep, and slash through any possibility of working out. What we forget is how important even the slightest bit of self-care is for our mental, physical, and emotional state.
Because calendars seem to fill up quicker than we can comprehend the commitments we’re taking on, why not take the time right now to schedule mini-breaks for yourself throughout the upcoming weeks? Trust me, you’ll be more likely to stick to these “me” meetings since they will already be penciled in.
And don’t think this time has to take place during work hours. Whether it’s waking up early to indulge in a longer shower, cooking yourself a proper meal, listening to music you find relaxing, or simply taking five minutes to stretch and breathe, the options are endless!
2. Distance yourself from your phone.
For me, it’s so easy to become bogged down with panic and stress when my phone is constantly buzzing. If you, too, become overly anxious by new notification alerts, I highly recommend creating distance from this kind of interruption.
This way, you’ll not only find better focus to conquer your current workload, but you’ll also clear the clutter of distraction and prevent your brain from becoming flooded with unnecessary information.
3. Lighten your load.
As hard as it can be to admit, we all need help every now and then. And yet, so many of us struggle with asking for it or delegating tasks to others. Well, let me just be the one to reinforce the fact that there is NOTHING wrong with asking for assistance. In fact, oftentimes people around you will be happy to help, as it makes them feel more useful and needed.
No matter if you need to ask for help with everyday tasks or larger projects, any amount of assistance can make a world of difference. And just think: the faster you lighten your load, the more rest you’ll begin to uncover.
4. Say no.
Who knew a two-letter word could have so much power? But seriously, the power of prioritization can work wonders on your state of mind. So don’t be afraid to give yourself permission to say no, especially when it means letting go of the unessential responsibilities on your plate to focus on what really matters: you!