Last night as I lay in my tub "relaxing" I was talking to Jason about how I don't know how to really relax. I know I need to, but I don't know how. I can't seem to master this relaxing thing. Tub time teeters on company meeting time some nights. We have to be very mindful to not talk business while I pretend to relax. I am really just trying to force my body to sleep by using the science of warming up my core and allowing nature to do her thing as my body temperature returns to normal. It is a sleep aide trick in every boring "how to sleep" idea I have ever read.
I know how to train for a 5k & 10K. I know how to meditate when I listen to a guided meditation that is timed. I know how to read a recipe so I can cook new things. I know how to look information up to learn a new skill, however this skill alludes me. I know how to go through the motions of faking it til you make it. I just don't get this relaxing thing so I am faking it.
Even my vacations are a hurried rush to take it all in, see it all, do it all and collapse into bed dog tired each night.
After really enjoying a prepackaged Mint & Rosemary Epsom Salt mix in my bath, Jason took it upon himself to see if he could duplicate it for me on a larger scale. What started with just lavender, mint and rosemary essential oils, has now turned into a whole shelf of essential oils to help me relax, sleep, headaches, my eczema and my stomach aches. Jason has turned my end of day bath time from just quiet time to a whole spa experience; candles, essential oils, and meditation music.
All of these things aide relaxation, right?
Now if I could just find the off button for my brain. I am trying so hard to relax. I really want to and I know the benefit to my health and my life if I could just freakin relax.
I have so much on my plate right now, big stuff, weighty stuff that the minute my world gets quiet, my brain takes this as "to-do list" time.
YOGA: (NOT ACTIVELY DOING YOGA ANYMORE)
For the first few years I was learning yoga, I hated the last 5 minutes or so of the guided mediation. It felt like such a waste, but I knew it would be totally rude to sneak out. Plus I knew it would show me as the fraud I was because I couldn't relax. I was a pretend relaxer. Then after several years and early in my 30's I laid in Savasana (Corpse Pose) on my mat listening to the instructor guide us all through the meditation and I realized that my mind was quiet. I almost bolt upright to announce I had finally had a moment of peace. I wanted a big high five that I had achieved yoga bliss. It didn't last long, but I got a taste for what could be.
A few years later, I had biofeedback and the control factor of it all made sense to my inner control freak. I could see my relaxation. I could own the reality that you can control your body. You can walk around pretending your life and body are out of your control until they hook you up and then on at least a basic level you have to see your role in allowing your body to spiral out of control on stress and worry.
MEDITATION: (NOT ACTIVELY MEDITATING)
I started regular mediation early this spring in direct relationship to the increase in my daily stress level. I found Deepak & Oprah's series of 21 Days of Mediation. This package works for me. Easy cheesey meditation! There is a quick little message and thought for the day, it is timed for me, I am given a mantra to mentally focus on and the music is wonderful. I could feel a difference in my daily life. I felt like I started just a wee bit farther down the zero to pissed off or stressed out meter. Like each day I my starting peaceful point was a little bit farther down than the day before. Even with tangible results, after meditating daily for several months, this ended up being one of the two relaxation programs that got dropped by me because they take too much time. I was trying to squeeze everything into a night time ritual and there is never enough time to relax before bed.
EFT: (NOT ACTIVELY DOING EFT)
The other program that got dropped was the EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) tapping. I found several great free you tube videos for tapping on stress relief and for helping with sleep.
So this past spring & into summer my night looked like this:
Have dinner, be with the kids, get kids ready for school and bed, take hot bath, glass of wine, 8 minutes of tapping, 20 minute guided mediation, a few minutes of reading, and then fall asleep. The tapping & mediation at night didn't lend itself to me feeling like sex. The tapping also sometimes made my brain very active. I had hoped that if I followed it with the mediation I could calm my brain back down. Again, I am a very active relaxer. I had it planned out right down to the sex, if I didn't fall asleep during the mediation.
The last tool in my tool box of relaxing is breathing. I know we all breathe, but not all of us do more than sustain our bodies through the slightest of inhales and exhales of the upper chest. In yoga, I learned about belly breathing. I loved listening to the teachers explain blowing up your belly like a big full balloon. The visual made sense to me.
Now I have an alarm 5 times a day that chimes a soft little gong to remind me to relax my belly, thanks to Gabrielle Bernstein's alarm clock app. It is like $3 and is the best most useful daily app I have on my phone.
All I know to do is actively try to relax, it does not come natural to me at all. Right now, all I can do is FRT or Forced Relaxation Time.
Then this morning we picked up all of our kids from the other parents & because everyone was off school! We had decided to take a drive out to the Paint Mines to enjoy the near 70 degree sunny Colorado weather. Jason made me stop twice before we even left the house to ask me what was wrong. My body must have been radiating angry energy. I told him the specific thing irritating me when he stopped me, which was something trivial like looking for shoes, but then by the third time he was making eye contact to ask me what was wrong, it dawned on me.
I am trying to relax on my day off. Days off are rare, and bad things happen when I take time off from work. Owners drop us because I didn't answer their phone call or email. Tenants have toilets explode or roofs that leak. I have a long career history of bad things happening when I am not there to keep the earth moving around the sun.
A day off means work is piling up and days of trying to catch up & get back to normal which most days means there is a huge pile of things that didn't get done.
I feel like I have made huge strides to shutting work off. I put my work cell down when I get home. I check it a time or two, but I am finally able to put it down. I am remembering to not check work emails after dinner because no one should be sending me emergency emails that need my immediate attention. At this stage of burnout though, I don't want to check my emails in the morning. I don't want to see who needs what or wants to complain about what or who needs me to hold their hand. I don't want to answer my phone. I wish everyone would just text me the one question they really need answered and then I wish they would let me answer it and move on. One conversation starts with what was supposed to be one question, but while they have me on the phone, they have thought of 5 other things that they need immediately.
I am responsible for too many needy people. I don't want to deal with them, but I know it is my job to. It is my job to answer their questions and find the time to make them feel special, even when they just want to yell at me for having to pay for the fixes to their problems.
So it astounds me that I get so stressed not being at the office, but I do. The thought of staying home causes me to get anxious and irritated. On top of it all, I am beating myself up for being burnt out. I am beating myself up for not having interest in my job. I can't afford to be burnt out, because too much depends on me giving 100 percent every day. I don't have time to figure out how to get my head back into the game. I can't even find my fucking head some mornings, let alone keep it screwed on and focused.
I am beyond beating my head on the wall. I have moved way past that torture or just lost the strength, and am now just sprawled out in front of the wall, staring into space pretending to be in Savasana. I am coming in to the office and creating a list of "what must happen today" or the "minimum I have to do" to make it through today. Either way it is a far cry from the pace I have kept for two and a half years.
Now enter the guilt again that I can't summon the energy to pick up the huge boulder to start back up the damn hill. If any of you have done an obstacle race in the past few years, you know how hard it is to squat down, pick up the ginormous large cement block, or log or ruck sack full of rocks, return to full standing and pick up that first foot to step forward. The weight alone is a huge amount, then take into consideration the awkwardness of the item. You put it on one shoulder, then switch it 50 footsteps later. You switch it again to the other shoulder after only 15 footsteps. Then you put it on you head and that only last 20 footsteps. Then you carry it with both hands in front of you for 25 steps. Then you accidentally drop it trying to maneuver it to the middle part of your shoulders which mean squatting down to pick up the weight again and your knees scream at you for fucking dropping it again. Rinse & repeat you do each one of these moves four or five times before you are back down the stupid hill. This is what my day feels like.
I won't lie, there are a few days when I have slept well, eaten well and have found my inner strength reserve and I lift up the obstacle and sprint up the damn hill and carefully jog back down. Some days a happy owner is waiting at the bottom of the hill and I get a big high five for saving the day for them. These days are all too rare, not because I don't save the day several times a week, but the owners don't notice because they just expect me to save them.
I won't lie, that some days, rare days, if I make it to the top of the hill, I just throw the obstacle down and see if it reaches the bottom or I stumble past it where ever it landed and I give it the fuck you finger.
Kate always looks so very happy and like she has it all together. I am hoping sweet Kate will give me the key to not being busy, however after reading her post, it appears I will have to tune in at a later date to read the actual how to stop the addiction. Today's piece is to define if you are addicted.
Can I get a "hell yea"?
Kate Northrup 8 SIGNS THAT YOU ARE ADDICTED TO BUSYNESS
She asks, HOW MANY OF THESE STATEMENTS DESCRIBES YOU?
- You notice yourself checking your phone obsessively throughout the day, particularly when you are tired, overwhelmed, or anxious.
- When you do find yourself doing nothing, you feel of guilty that you aren’t being productive.
- You mentally tally the number of productive hours you’ve had at the end of the day and judge how you feel about yourself by how full your day was.
These were just the FOUR I picked from the list. Kate says that if you pick 3, you are addicted to busyness.
Her wise uncle Phil said the following regarding her breakneck schedule:
“YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO LEARN TO STOP VALIDATING YOUR EXISTENCE THROUGH ACTION.”
How powerful is that statement? Uncle Phil is crazy spot on with that statement. How can I learn to feel I am enough if I am not performing great feats and wow'ing everyone?
Kate asks, "How many meaningful conversations in the car with my husband have I not had because I was checking my email for the twentieth time that day?" "How many of breaths have become shallow from being caught in the spin of constant activity?" "How many precious moments of stillness have I missed because I fear what might come up during the pause?"
Too many moments have been lost. Not being fully present is cheating me out of precious moments that make the struggle worthwhile. Not being able to recharge and enjoy down time is keeping me from living life fully.
I am ready for new tools to help me refocus and become present. After reading what I had written, I noticed several items in my tool box that are collecting dust and not being used. Until I can read Kate's next post, I will try to squeeze yoga, mediation or eft back in and see if that provides some relief.
Come on Kate, publish the next piece please!
Stress Zombie in Colorado