"You Are Not a Robot": Wellness When You're Ultra-Busy
This is Not a Drill
I've been a little busy lately. Like, ridiculous busy. Over-caffeinated, brain-fried, "what is sleep?" BUSY. It's good-busy, mind you, but still. JEEZ. My eyes look like this little guy's all the time:
*By the way, if you're ever in a rotten mood, I guarantee this video about the tarsier will cheer you up.
Given the busy, when it's come to reaching out to my parents it's just been quick notes here and there to keep up basic communication. When I let my mom know that I've been a bit snowed under, as it were, she was concerned...as moms tend to be. But also wise. Again, as moms tend to be. I should know because I am one. Anyway, my mom sent me this note:
Now, there are a couple important things to note about this message.
My Mom was a primary school teacher-librarian and de facto grammar policewoman, so the only reason her grammar is ever even remotely off (advise-advice) is because she types with her thumbs and sometimes things get mixed up. This is how it usually goes between us:
If you're keeping score that's Mom 1, my grammar 0.
Mom totally NAILS IT in terms of wellness when you're ultra-busy.
Get your sleep
YOU ARE NOT A ROBOT
"Stay healthy" is mom-code for "try not to get sick," and while we usually can't totally prevent picking up something we can do basic things like washing our hands and the rest of the things on the list to help us keep well.
Alright, so here's the thing. When you're ultra-busy, like I've been these past 2 weeks, it's hard to fit even thinking about wellness into your brain let alone practicing it. But contrary to what you might think, putting your mind to self-care when it feels like you're drowning is one of the best things you can do in order to get shit done: TRUE FACT #1 ABOUT WELLNESS. During these times, sticking with the basics is enough. You can work other practices back in later because if you keep up with the basics when it's nuts, getting back to your routine when life calms down will be that much easier.
Getting enough sleep will actually help you manage busy periods better. Sleeping not only enables you to restore your energy, it helps reduce stress, lower the risk of disease, improves your sex life (!), increases productivity, and can aid in weight loss. Research shows that "a sleep-deprived person cannot focus attention optimally and therefore cannot learn efficiently. Second, sleep itself has a role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information" (thanks Harvard).
So if you want to do things WELL you need to sleep. Period. Go have a nap before reading the rest of this post. I'll wait.
Eating well is also a game-changer. If you can't manage to make your usual morning smoothie or spend time cutting up veggies, then at least try to choose REAL FOOD as much as possible. Avoid processed and fast foods and try to keep your refined sugar intake low. There are many grab-and-go options that are actually pretty healthy. Read the labels. If there's more than a couple of items that aren't recognizable, pick something else. But most of all, remember to eat. It's easy to skip or greatly postpone meals when you're busy. Don't do that please. Fuel = energy which = productivity. EAT.
Prioritizing is the icing on the cake. When you're ultra-busy, you really do need to stick to the essentials in order to keep your energy up and not become drained by your never-ending to-do list. It's amazing how much can actually wait. Vacuuming is not going to make or break you (I promise).
A simple rule of thumb is to pare down your daily to-do list to the 3-5 most essential tasks. Things that will enable forward movement toward a larger goal. This practice works equally well at work or personally, by the way. When you practice and learn to de-prioritize the useless crapola, amazing things appear....TIME. ENERGY. Significant progress toward your goals. #winning
Another hot tip: when I'm super-busy and can't take a large chunk of time to get to the gym, I try sneak in activity where I can. Take the stairs, park further away from the entrance to anything, body squats or leg lifts while I wait for the water to boil for my tea. Stretch frequently throughout the day, even for just a couple of minutes. Walk down the hall to speak with someone instead of calling or emailing. Little things are ALWAYS ok when the big things aren't possible.
(Ultra)-Busy Wellness is Still Good
So yeah. YOU ARE NOT A ROBOT (don't let the l'il guy's pretty flower fool you). So don't treat yourself like one. When the shit hits the fan, that's the most important time to practice self-care because the ROI on the investment is amazeballs.
Wellness, even when practiced minimally during times of chaos or transition, has enormous benefit. It keeps us together when otherwise we'd fall apart. It provides energy and release simultaneously. It aids both our current AND future selves. It keeps us running full.
And that's it in a nutshell my friends. When life hands you busy, listen to your mother.