It’s November and I’m settled into my beachy blue room not far from San Diego’s famed Ocean Beach. I’ve got everything going for me: The weather is springish. The apartment is comfortable. I recently signed contracts with some of the coolest clients EVER. Luna and I have been to the dog beach three times.
I should be pretty exhilarated right now.
But, instead, you guys, I’m feeling really stressed.
In Denver, I was stressed because my to-do list was too long. On top of the usual work tasks, there was my downsizing project and my re-packing project and dozens of people I wanted to catch up with before leaving town again. None of those things are bad in and of themselves, but they left me feeling stretched too thin.
And then I arrived in California, where I’m overwhelmed by a pileup of little things—selling my car, re-doing my business website, juggling the articles and interviews I’ve been lining up, and all the while wanting to do some soul searching, make some plans, truly contemplate my next steps.
Until this week, I’d been mostly just pushing forward, ticking items off my to-do list, pretending to feel less overwhelmed than I actually do. But I can’t ignore stress for long, because it always brings with it symptoms. Like, physical symptoms. Like, my teeth are hurting because I’m apparently grinding them in my sleep. And my stomach…don’t even get me started on my stomach. WebMD (which just generally a bad idea anyway) says I’m pregnant. So, congratulations to me. Having a stress baby.
So, now, what with stress babies and little ground down nubs for teeth and everything, I’m on a mission. The rest of my time in San Diego is going to be about getting back to balance, treating myself well, de-stressing.
It all starts with reminding myself that I have an exit. I can always extend my time here if I need to. I don’t have to move on so quickly. I don’t have to re-pack right this second. I have plenty of time between deadlines. There is absolutely no reason for me to melt into a puddle of overwhelmed feelings and cry.
And after reminding myself of all that (a thing that I’ll probably have to do multiple times), I’m going to move onto getting the little things back into balance. Doing more of what I love, less of what makes me anxious, more of what’s healthy for me. Things like:
Turns out, being on the road stresses the bejeezes out of me. Particularly when I’m driving in the evenings or during rush hour. Also, driving in California, where everyone appears to be drunk on the road.
Pausing to eat
I’ve gotten back into the habit of working through lunch. Sometimes I’m on a roll and that’s okay, but it’s probably generally healthier to walk away from the computer screen for a little while.
Naps are my favorite thing. Taking a nap mid- to late-afternoon = bliss. Total bliss.
Being vigilant about no-technology Fridays
When I skip my NTFs, my weeks are inevitably more stressful. It’s really good for our brains to step away from the computer (or phone, or tablet) screen for a full 24 hours. For me, at least, it boosts my attitude, my productivity, and my creativity. So I’m officially making them a higher priority.
Making time for reading and snuggling
Few things make me feel more relaxed than reading a good book and snuggling a fuzzy Luna.
Taking moments to breathe, whenever they present themselves
I was doing this really well when I first got back from Europe…whenever someone ran late for a meeting, whenever I got stuck in line, whenever I arrived a few minutes early with nothing to do: instead of waiting impatiently, worrying about my to-do list, or mentally running through my deadlines, I would just take deep breaths, people-watch, read the book I always carry in my purse. I wasn’t worried about wasting ten minutes of my day. I was worried about enjoying those ten minutes. Using those ten minutes to get back to zen. It was a much better way to live.
And, in addition to these small daily decisions to live a healthier, more relaxed life, I’m committing my San Diego time to de-stressing in an even bigger way. I’m going to take whole days for spa relaxation, pretending to be a princess at Disneyland. I’m going to treat myself to a few nice meals. I’m going to drink Pina Coladas on a beach. And I’m going to hire a contractor or two to tackle a few of those little work things that have been eating away at my time.
It’s time to make some intentional shifts. Because wellness is way more important than to-do lists. And, while my business is and will continue to be my top priority (as it’s what makes this lifestyle possible), there’s really no reason to be grinding my teeth in my sleep.
[UPDATE: After writing this, I totally sold my car, which is one Giant Leap toward knocking out my USA To-Do List. I feel a little lighter already.]
What helps you de-stress?