Well not to death (that’s a bit extreme) but maybe to dis-ease…

This time of year has many of us operating at a truly frenetic pace. We feel driven by end-of-year wrap-ups, and a rush to clean our slate of lingering commitments. We combine that with getting holiday ready – decorating, cooking, shopping, wrapping, traveling. Then, for good measure, we add on a rush of social obligations with friends, family and colleagues. I’ve seen some of your schedules (heck, I know what’s on my own) – it’s no wonder so many of us reach January with a good case of the winter-time blues, if not a case of something even more nasty.

What if I told you that it might be the multitasking itself that’s making you feel overwhelmed? It’s simply chemistry. Among other things, switching quickly/frequently between tasks increases the production of cortisol – the stress hormone – which can contribute to fatigue, irritability, cravings, and lowered immunity. There’s no denying we all have a lot on our plates daily, exponentially more so around this time of year, so the temptation to tackle everything at once can be great. Try your best to do one thing, fully, at a time. And be present in the moment that you’re doing it. When you notice that your hands are doing one task and your mind 50 others, make a course correction. Stop, breathe, refocus into mindfulness and be consoled by the fact that you’ll get to the end sooner by tackling tasks (or groups of similar tasks) sequentially and with focus rather than helter-skelter and all-at-once. Oh – and remember – try as we might, none of us is superhuman!

Where does the need to function in overdrive come from? Might it be an inability to draw boundaries? A lurking feeling of, ‘will they like me a bit less if I say no’? Maybe a bit of a martyr syndrome? I once received simple, life-changing advice… ‘No can be a complete sentence’. Respectfully, delicately and politely refusing that one-more-thing when your schedule or your mind-space is full is ok. How can you feel truly great about honoring the ‘yes-es’ when you don’t feel good about sometimes being genuine with the ‘no-s’? I’ve come to honor the fact that, right now, my time is my most precious commodity and just like my money, I need to spend it on things that I value: my family and friends; causes and traditions that I value; things that make me happy. So, here’s my advice in this area: check in with yourself – and do it honestly and in integrity. How does the opportunity to add another thing to your plate FEEL. Would doing it bring you joy and/or satisfaction? Can you do it purposefully and up to the standard you’d be comfortable with? Is it something that could be delegated, providing someone else with the opportunity to feel joy and satisfaction by doing it? Does it need to be done at all, and if it does, does it need to be now?

Lastly, let’s acknowledge the truth that sometimes we just must push the limits of how much we do. For finite periods of time we’re going to overload the system, burn the candle at both ends and hang-on-for-dear-life-and-gett’er-done. That’s life in the big, busy world. So, what do you do then? You give yourself the best chance of ‘doing it all’ healthfully and mindfully. High performance vehicles need high quality fuel and tender care. So does high-performance you! Being busy, you do yourself no favor by gobbling quick-fix foods and gaining time by cutting sleep. Take the time to eat health-promoting foods (and chew rather than gulp!), stop for exercise that will recharge your body and your mind (just a walk -especially outside in fresh air – will do a world of refreshing good), make lists and action plans to quell the swirling thoughts, keep hydrated (with water – only water fulfills the health benefits of water!) and CELEBRATE THE INCREMENTAL WINS (you will actually crave the positive feeling of achievement and sub-consciously seek to re-experience it).

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