So You’re Feeling a Little Overwhelmed: Cut These 5 Things Out of Your Life to Feel Better Now
Life can be crazy, but we set the tone for so much of it. Curate your life and see what shows up when you create room by letting go of what doesn’t serve you.
1. News. This is not a hall pass to be uninformed, but rather an opportunity to screen out the crazy, negative, tragic, fake, and salacious sh*t that permeates our media. I’m pro-media but I don’t appreciate that you can’t escape disturbing imagery, or that it seems everyone self-selects what they already believe and writes off the rest as “fake news”, so I opted out altogether about 7 years ago. Voila! Healthier, happier, less stressed, less agitated. I sleep better and am more well-read. I could go on. Try it for a day, for a week, for a month. I promise you, if you want to know, you’ll know; the news is in many ways inescapable. But if you opt out, you’ll immediately feel better by avoiding the “us vs. them” pick-a-team-propaganda.
2. Alarm clocks. This may seem even crazier, but I swear by it. My hubby isn’t a great sleeper, so we tried sleep rituals early in our marriage — Sleepytime tea, Epsom salt baths, working out, eating at certain times, etc. Then about 7 years ago, I stumbled upon an article about body clocks and circadian rhythms. It made sense to me, so we tried it. First, I tried to make my sleep more consistent. Then I started to let myself wake without an alarm clock. It only took about 3 months before I could go to sleep and think “I need to wake up at 6:30 am” and I’d wake up +/- 5 minutes of my desired time. Months later, I could do it in different time zones. Do I still do it? Every day with the whole family. We haven’t used an alarm clock in more than five years.
Having kids reinforced our commitment as we learned even more about the power of sleep to enhance young development. Try it. You can still set your phone if you’re nervous about crucial timing, like flights or morning appointments, but you’ll surprise yourself with how often it works for you too and how good your body feels when it gets the rest it needs.
3. Screens. This one is tough Mama! It’s insidious. I don’t always realize I’m doing it or for how long. What I’ve found is when my phone or iPad is out and I’m with my kids, I always feel torn, like I’m not giving my full attention to my family or my business and it makes me feel resentful about time. But when I do things with the kids without the phone, I’m not torn. I get the tech break I need, plus the connection to my family, and the connection to the outdoors (if we are on a dog walk for example) or my body (if I’m working out). The time feels both stimulating and restorative instead of busy or productive. I feel present and powerful. And, when I need to work, I feel less guilty about asking my family to respect my time away because I know I have been and will be truly present with them again when I’m not working. It’s hard though and probably always will be. Pinterest, Instagram, Medium, Facebook, emails, messaging, all of it is just so…intoxicating.
4. Wasted time. This one is tricky because scheduling every moment can feel monotonous. There’s value in spontaneity. There’s value in extending a powerful moment. There’s value in occasionally doing nothing. All those things require unscheduled time. However, sticking to a schedule, creating routines and rituals is not about giving those things up. Instead, routines, rituals, and schedules provide our family with expectation, familiarity, prioritization and a sense of being in it together. It keeps us focused on the moment, conscious about our time, aware of the future, and renews our commitment to each other.
We choose motivating, sustainable daily routines that allow us to maximize opportunities, make progress, enjoy the moment, and cut loose on our big adventures. I give my husband full credit for this one. He’s naturally good at rituals and traditions. He loves what he loves, prioritizes what he loves, and isn’t easily distracted. By contrast, I want to try everything, do everything, go everywhere, and be all things. We balance each other well. What I’ve learned over the years is to appreciate how grounding schedules, routines, and rituals can be; and how marking milestones, celebrations, and picking events and activities that matter provides an enduring connection to family.
5. Missed opportunities. This is a biggie for our family and another gentle lesson from our experience with cancer. We didn’t know how things would turn out. We were faced with a dismal crapshoot of a prognosis and some days were better than others. So every day counted, and every word was important and that emphasis on “right here, right now” made it easy to allow our hearts to lead our conversations. I wanted every day to be a good day for my husband, so I showered him with love and affection every moment that we were together and said I love you a million times, maybe more.
I’m not as good at this with friends and extended family, but with my hubby, and now with my babies, I never miss an opportunity to kiss them, squeeze them, read to them, carry them, listen to them, smile at them, dance with them, snuggle them, or adore them. I say I love you every chance I get. It doesn’t get watered down either, it just becomes more true.