When my car needs attention, certain icons will light up, or messages will flash across my dashboard. These include things like low fuel, check engine, or maintenance required. When my car’s computer senses that I’m swerving or driving in an irregular way, a message pops up that says, “Time for rest.” If I had a similar system for my own wellness, by the end of last week, all the alerts would have been activated at once. I saw the signs, but I kept on driving.
I had abandoned the boundaries and buffers that I usually put in place to protect my mental and physical health by ambitiously overloading my schedule. By Friday afternoon, just like a neglected vehicle, I broke down.
During my business class I was called on to share my answer for an assignment we had been working on. I struggled all morning and was still feeling unsure about what I had created. When I shared my answer, the instructor asked me and my classmates a series of questions to try to coach me toward a clearer response. I tried my best to respond with improvements to my answer in the moment, but nothing worked.
If this were a typical day where I was well rested, nourished, and focused, I would have welcomed and delighted in this intellectual challenge. But since I had packed way too much into my week, I didn’t get the sleep, rest, or space I needed for that level of clarity and presence. So, the pressure I felt in that moment burst all of my emotional pipes and I had a meltdown, right there in the middle of class. My sobs were so uncontrollable that I had to leave the room so I wouldn’t distract my classmates or the instructor.
After taking the weekend off to rest, reflect, and recharge, I discovered some powerful lessons and strategies to support you in giving the necessary attention to the alerts on your wellness dashboard.
Know Your No. When we are faced with meaningful and exciting opportunities, it can be challenging to turn them down. So, we say yes to all of the things without considering how the energy required to honor all of those commitments may impact our wellbeing. Having certain filters in place will help you determine what to say no to. These filters include your core values and what I call the Hell Yes Test. Is this opportunity or obligation in alignment with your core values? Does this commitment or choice feel like a whole-body Hell Yes!? If it’s not in alignment, and it’s not a ‘Hell Yes!’ then it’s most likely a “No.”
What do you need to say “no” to this week?
Balance Your Bucket. When my nephew was in kindergarten my mother said something that upset him and he said, “Grandma, you tipped my bucket.” When we asked him what that meant he explained that at school this was how they had been taught to communicate their emotions when someone said or did something that hurt their feelings. This makes me visualize those large buckets at waterparks where water is pouring in, and once it reaches a certain point, the bucket tips and completely soaks everyone standing within range. That continuous pouring water is all of the things that we commit to, but we only have so much space. If we are not mindful about cutting off that flow, we will tip and our emotions will spill out all over people and things who are closest to us.
How will you balance your bucket this week?
Preserve Your Presence. Just because the time is open on your calendar it doesn’t mean you have the actual physical and emotional capacity necessary to engage in every event, task, or commitment. Sometimes we give so much of ourselves away that we have nothing left to give to ourselves. Simple self-preservation practices like those that are a part of the structures that we create for children can support you in being more present with yourself. This looks like making space in your schedule for simple things like nap time, snack time, and play time. As a part of my healing and restoration practice after my overwhelming week, I spent all day on Saturday doing arts and crafts.
What self-preservation practices will support you in being more present with yourself?
This week I challenge you to check your wellbeing dashboard. If there are any alerts or messages your body or mind are trying to tell you, schedule the necessary maintenance and repair to keep your most precious possession in superior condition.
I am mine.
I am my best thing.
I belong to myself.