In the past month, I’ve launched my first two mental fitness groups (using the researched-based, acclaimed Positive Intelligence program and app that I’ve been studying for more than six months), conducted a performance of “O Canada” for a Canadian citizenship ceremony, completed an anti-anxiety program, completed a three month Enneagram group, been interviewed on a podcast, performed professionally as a member of Luminos Ensemble, written most of a book, coached childfree women (and people who aren’t raising children) on ways to create a life they love, and done writing and editing for clients. I’ve also dealt with the Hurricane Fiona aftermath, attended to a variety of personal and professional tasks, and made some time for fun fall activities, including getting together with friends.
One of the brilliant things about my work in the mental fitness realm has been realizing that I turn less and less things into stress in my life now. I’ve realized that rather than let all of the things in my busy life feel like things I “must” do, AKA things that cause me stress and need to be dealt with, I can instead focus on curiosity, on navigating my to-dos with joy or at least without the extra emotional weight I had a tendency to add to them.
My mantra, which I developed in my first Enneagram group and continue to find exceptionally helpful, is this: “Breathe. Prioritize. Do what’s mine to do.”
This mantra won’t work for everyone. You may in fact be one of those people who don’t take on other people’s tasks. Or you may need a mantra that’s more about doing and less about stopping and prioritizing for you personally to find balance in your life. But if my mantra strikes a chord, read on.
If you’re feeling stressed, unsure how to juggle all the responsibilities, both spoken and unspoken, in your life, try my three steps on for size.
- Breathe: Realizing your breathing is getting more shallow? Starting to feel overwhelmed or anxious? As soon as you recognize it, stop that thought train. Focus on your breath. In, and out. Again. Stop the “what-if” and the “must-do” and tune into your breathing.
- Prioritize: Once you’re feeling a bit calmer, whether from breathing or doing other mindfulness exercises, NOW you’re in a healthy space. You’re now using the part of your brain that’s capable of navigating challenges and getting curious about what’s possible. So it’s time to prioritize. What’s the one thing that you could get done today that would make your week, or even your year? What are the deadlines that will really screw you up if you miss them? Who is more important, and what are they expecting of you? Prioritize.
- Do what’s mine to do: Now, and only now, it’s time to return to doing. Since you’ve stopped the auto-pilot and tuned into what matters, you can now do what’s truly yours to do. Most things I think are mine to do are, it turns out, actually not. I make a whole lot of responsibilities up. Sometimes I think I need to do work for other people. So don’t blindly do: make sure you do what’s YOURS to do today. And always, or at least whenever you can remember to stop, consider what matters, and then move forward.
Keep swimming, my friends. You are wonderful just as you are, truly, right now. And I believe in you.
P.S. If you want support in how to follow these steps, that’s what I’m here for. Let’s hop on a free call where you can learn more about mental fitness and how to handle life’s challenges with more efficiency and joy.