I knew there was a problem when I was excited for a surgery and uncomfortable recovery.
Here’s the TMI portion of the post (scroll to the next paragraph if medical procedures make you queasy.) I’m getting an endometrial ablation to treat my consistently painful periods. My cycles have become so bad in perimenopause, I’m basically homebound for the first two days.
I’ll be administered anesthesia and some pain medications upon waking. My doctor told me I’ll be pretty uncomfortable, so I’ll need to rest for a couple of days. I replied with a smile, “I can’t wait!” My ever-empathetic doctor seemed genuinely confused at my excitement. I had to explain. “It’s just that I never get permission to rest. If I’m in physical pain I’ll have no choice,” I exclaimed with a smile on my face.
My doctor sat across from me and said, “You need to fix that. That’s not good for you.”
Stop Filling Every Minute
I realized, in that moment, just how warped I sounded. I shouldn’t need surgery to claim time to un-hurry my life. I have a full-time job, busy kids and some pretty lofty goals for myself. You can’t live that life and not feel some stress, right? But still, most days I feel a twisting in my chest and a low vibration throughout my body. Part of this anxiety is wired into me, but I’m willing to bet a good deal of it is self-inflicted. I create a lot of nonsense busy-ness in my life.
I decided I wanted to dedicate the last two months of the year (traditionally my busiest) to slowing down. It’s not that I want to accomplish less – I want to declutter the unnecessary “busy” from my life.
I took an inventory of my daily habits and I saw so many things I do that, no doubt, trigger anxiety:
- I scroll social media while I brush my teeth.
- I listen to daily news podcasts as I make breakfast and prep lunches.
- I took a work call as I drove my son to school.
- I sit on a Zoom call while I answer texts.
- If I am in line, I scroll on my phone.
- I fill every minute with … something.
The result is this feeling I am frantically busy all the time. In reality? The constant “doing” is making me feel stress that isn’t real.
My Slow 60 Challenge
I’m creating a challenge for myself in these next 60 days. (I am publishing this so I feel some accountability. Will you be my accountabili-buddies?) I pinky-promise to give you honest updates throughout the process.
Here are my goals for daily life over the next two months in what I’m calling The Slow 60 Challenge:
- Meditate: I have the attention span of a gnat, but even a few minutes of meditation help me feel grounded. I will wake up a few minutes early to claim this time in the morning.
- Move: Daily exercise helps my mental health more than anything, but it’s often the first thing that gets booted from the schedule on a busy day. If I look ahead and see that my schedule won’t allow time for a dedicated session, I will prioritize at least a 30 minute neighborhood stroll. (It’s annoying how much a walk improves my mental state. Why can’t chocolate and wine help?)
- Minimize multitasking: This has already proven to be the biggest challenge. I like to listen to podcasts on my drive, an audiobook while I fold laundry, and I even scroll social media while I brush my teeth. It’s embarrassing and out of control. For the next 60 days, I want to approach each task with intention and be present in the moment. Folding laundry without a distraction sounds brutal, but the act of folding a mountain of mismatched socks in silence was bizarrely meditative. Listening to music instead of my normal podcast lineup as I drove boosted my mood as I tried to perform the lyrics from “Push It” aloud to my empty car.
- Phone away from bed: I had been really good about this for months, but an out of town family member was hospitalized and I was waiting to hear prognosis updates. I moved my phone back to my bedside table and that has been a disaster. I’ll end up scrolling at night which interrupts my sleep.
- Find moments of joy every day: My daughter is knee-deep in her junior year of high school. She has a rigorous course load and she plays a competitive sport. The girl is busy. I was driving her to school this week and we decided, even though we haven’t hit Halloween, we should blast Christmas music in the car. I got home and had it playing on my phone all day. Judge me if you’d like, but I could feel my anxiety calm to a simmer.
My plan is not to do or achieve less. There’s a realm in which I could be more creative if I went through my day more intentionally. That’s the hope, at least.
Be well, friends.