I flipped open my calendar to October the other day to see if I was available to help at an event in the middle of the month. I was taken aback when I realized that almost every day of the month had scribbled plans and commitments already jotted down. I wondered if I was looking at the wrong month, or year, but a quick glance at the header showed me that I was looking at October 2019. A month not even started but already booked to the brim.
I could feel my stress levels rising. I quickly checked back into September to see if I had any space to switch things around, or even a few days to rest and prepare for what promised to be a full October. None existed.
How did I let my schedule get this way again?
I always convince myself that I’m good at saying no. But it seems like every big no I say I’m saying several small yes’. It’s easy when the month I’m booking into isn’t here yet, to commit the days away, assuming I’ll have the energy and time to do everything when the days get here.
While considering how drained I’ve been feeling, and also frantically looking for a day off to do nothing and rest, I decided to be proactive. After all I was the one deciding my schedule and killing myself trying to fit everything in; draining my energy and not having enough to give to the people and activities I was saying yes to.
I’d had enough, so I sat down this last week and I put a big X through one day a week in my calendar until the end of the year. The purpose of this day is to do nothing. Not necessarily a lay in bed all day day, but rather a don’t set the alarm, wake up whenever, and do whatever I feel like day. It might include seeing friends, moving my body outdoors, or maybe lounging on the couch and reading all day. Regardless of what I choose, I want one day a week where I can choose.
It’s been two weeks of taking intentional full days off to do whatever I feel like doing. The days have looked extremely different. One involved jobs around home alone. The other was a fuller day of family time, and time by the river with my brother fishing. Both were beautiful and rejuvenating for my entire being, I felt refreshed in ways I didn’t realize I needed to be; and wow was the rest of my week so much easier.
I felt I had more energy and motivation to do the things I needed to do knowing that I had another day coming up to do whatever I wanted to do. A day to be creative, to invest in things I have little time for throughout the week, a day to breathe, to spend time leisurely moving from thing to thing with no schedule or set time frame.
I can’t say the sudden arrival of grey days, rain, and fall weather have been great for my motivation and energy levels, but prioritizing not drowning myself in hectic hour to hour activities and commitments should hopefully help moving forward.
It’s amazing the ways that life surprises us, and the small beautiful realizations that present themselves when we slow down and are unhurried through a day. Some of my favourite moments have happened this month because I wasn’t going too fast to see and hear the people around me. Stopping to listen to the story of a lady selling flowers at the Fort Langley market, because I had nowhere else to be, gave me a new friend, and a beautiful bouquet of flowers for my home. Standing in the Fraser river with my brother salmon fishing gave me a deeper appreciation for how disciplined and consistent my brother is. He always puts his best foot forward and shows up without fail for those he loves.
If you’re feeling drained and over committed I challenge you to look at your schedule. Is there a block of time, or an entire day, you can physically put an X through? Where can you give yourself intentional time to breathe, rest, explore, and do the things that bring you joy?