The opposite of being present is being busy.” ~ Brene Brown
At my appointment the other night, my therapist mentioned she sees me depleting and this concerns her for several reasons: 1) I’ve lost some of my favorite ways to cope with the chaos of life (for example, lunch breaks are no longer for walking with my friends but rather for shuttling Jax from pre-K to daycare), and 2) it’s autumn—in other words, the time of year when my mood is most likely to plummet, when the coping skills I’ve learned are needed most yet seem to have vanished from my brain.
She’s right, I do feel depleted, and I long for daily walks and bubble baths I don’t have time for right now. I know what I need to do to fix it: put some things on the backburner to carve out some time for self-care. I know I need to focus on my own needs during this transition into shorter days (read: more darkness, literally and figuratively speaking). But it’s hard for me prioritize self-care when there are so many things needing attention.
Sometimes, what makes me feel best IS taking care of other people’s needs and crossing things off my to do list. But lately, doing that isn’t working. Instead of the high I usually get from volunteering or making care packages (for example), I’ve been catching myself keeping mental lists of who needs what and how often, and how “needy” I think they’re being. This sounds a lot like resentment, no? I’m also very conscious of my choice (or lack thereof) in providing what is requested, too. For instance, at work, I do not have a choice when I’m approached about changes and a heavier workload. And I’m angry about not having a choice.
But I’m also angry at myself for not saying no when I DO have a choice. I’m angry at myself for volunteering to do things when nobody is even asking me to do them! I’m angry at myself for not valuing my time enough. Of course I feel drained when I’m doing all the things that need to be done on a daily basis, plus extra that doesn’t!
Nobody is depleting me but me. And I wonder why that is. Why it has always been.
I’d like to say that today I’m going to rip up my to do list and not multitask and simply go with the flow. I’d like to say that today I will say “no” more than I will say “yes.” But I know myself, and that ain’t happening!
So, I’m taking a baby step. My friend gave me some good advice last night that I think I can actually follow because it doesn’t sound as scary and overwhelming as saying no. She said, “Maybe try to fit in five minute blocks of quiet time doing nothing for now.”
Five minutes? I can give myself that time. I’m going to use my Mindfulness app as an alarm today to give myself 5 minutes of quiet time twice.
Also? Today, I’m going to allow myself to put life on hold and devour this website.
But first, I’m going to pat myself on the back for starting my day by writing in this space.
What are you going to do for yourself today?