The phone rings.
It’s a friend wanting to offload their current life challenges, along with a few highlights. As I look at the clock I notice the time ticking away as they talk. At the back of my mind, I recite all the tasks that need to get done before the end of the day.
I tried to multitask but it didn’t work. I was not quite listening to the conversation or focusing on the document that I was trying to complete quietly in the background. I was genuinely interested in their life but I just didn’t have the time or the capacity to listen.
After 40 minutes, I eventually cut them off.
It is November: it’s been a L O N G year. You are tired and you have limited capacity. Life can easily become overwhelming. The majority of South Africans look forward to December is our summer holiday but getting there seems impossible.
This is either due to that amount of work that you would like to finish before your break or you are exhausted from pushing through all that has happened to-date.
It’s great to look forward to a break, but you can’t breathe in the future. You can only breathe now, in this present moment. As Jim Elliot to eloquently puts it: “Wherever you are, be all there!”
This may not change your energy levels or your motivation but there are a few steps you can take to get you through to the next few weeks:
- Breathe – When you are stressed, you tend to breathe using the top part of your lungs. This shallow breathing tells your body that you are in a state of stress which has numerous negative effects on your health and mind. Deep breathing doesn’t cost you anything. Besides, you are breathing anyway, you may as well do it properly so that you can benefit from it.
- Rest – Getting enough sleep can do wonders for your mood and your energy level. It also extends your capacity to manage stress and helps you to feel less overwhelmed. If you are hell-bent in getting your work done, having a 20-minute power nap can refresh your mind enough to work more efficiently. Whilst I appreciate you will probably be fired if you take a quick snooze at your desk, but bring a pillow and nap in your car at lunchtime if you must.
- Drink water – Even mild dehydration can affect your mood and ability to concentrate. Make sure you drink enough water, preferably water with added minerals as tap water is chemically cleaned and stripped of the minerals. Adding a dash of Himalayan salt can help.
- Eat correctly – When you are tired or dehydrated you tend to reach for sugary foods. They are convenient and let’s face it (being a sweet tooth myself) they taste good. They may improve your mood and energy levels briefly but they cause your body to crash soon after the high they created. Eating foods that nourish your body, like fresh vegetables and fruit. Try grabbing a carrot or bell pepper instead.
- Gratitude – Where your mind goes, your energy flows (Ernest Holmes). Being tired and overwhelmed it impacts your thoughts. Experiencing gratitude for the tiny miracles that happen all around you can motivate you to keep going. By consciously being aware of giving thanks for the small things, it lifts your mood and motivates you to get through the day. Be grateful, even if it is for little things like being able to breathe on your own or to have eyes to take in the beauty of the world.
Hang in there, the year is almost over. You will get there, but be kind to yourself along the way. You deserve a bit of loving kindness.