It’s been one of those weeks. Some of my normal commitments happened to land a little closer together than usual. Other activities started back up after a summer break. An opportunity came up that required some very important decisions to be made quickly. In the midst of it all I was already scheduled to go out of town on a mini-vacation.
I’m guessing I’m not the only one dealing with some sort of transition or a little extra busyness. It happens to all of us at times and the beginning of the school year often signals changing schedules whether we have children or not.
The problem for me right now isn’t so much that some days are a little busier than I’d like or even that I’m feeling a bit nervous about making the best decisions I can. The real problem is that I’ve neglected some of the very practices and activities I know help me manage my energy and keep my head clear.
It’s normal to have an ebb and flow in our responsibilities and routines. Unexpected opportunities and challenges will pop up. While we can’t control or predict everything that will happen, we can build habits into our lives that will support us in navigating whatever comes as well as possible.
I’ve written here before about non-negotiables and discovering which activities we can do consistently to help us maintain our energy and calm . The thing is, I know I show up best when I’m consistently doing things like journaling, walking, getting plenty of sleep, drinking enough water, and making things with my hands.
I know this.
And yet, when life starts to feel a little off-kilter those activities are all too often the first things to get ignored—right when I need them most.
It’s easy when so much feels urgent and we’re facing deadlines to push aside anything that doesn’t absolutely have to be done right now. It’s easy to question whether we really deserve the luxury of taking care of ourselves. It’s easy to think if we can’t do as much as we want to do—exercise for an hour, write 750 words, organize the entire closet— there’s no point to doing anything at all.
This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself floundering without my non-negotiables and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I’m learning from experience just how much of a difference it makes in my life to carve out space for these activities even when it doesn’t seem like I should. I’m getting better at recognizing what seasons and situations are most likely to throw me off course and making a plan for how I’ll approach them. I’m quicker to recognize what is wrong when I feel out of sorts and to start again.
That’s the thing, though, now that I’ve let me non-negotiables slide, I need to start again. So this week I’m giving myself both a gift and a challenge. I’m going to give myself the gift of valuing my needs and making space for those activities that will help me approach my days well. This very gift is also my challenge.
Whether everything is falling into place for you this week or whether you’re just barely hanging on, I’m inviting you to join me.
Take a few minutes to think of activities that restore energy and calm. Will you pick just one and commit to doing it five minutes a day this week? If you want to do more go ahead, but do so out of self-kindness, not striving. It’s ok to start small. In fact, we’re more likely to continue if we do.
There are a number of non-negotiables I want to get back on track, but I know from experience that it works best for me to make a small start and build from there. This week I’m committing to journaling for at least five minutes everyday. Likely I’ll write for longer some days and will probably do some of my other non-negotiables as well, but, by committing to just five minutes of journaling, I’m choosing something that feels totally doable even when other things seem more urgent. Feel free to ask me how it’s going.
What are the activities that help you maintain your energy and calm? What happens when life doesn’t go quite how you expect? What has worked for you to value your own needs even when everything around you feels urgent? What is one tiny step you can take to care for yourself right now—no matter what life looks like in this moment?