It is pretty common these days to hear someone talk about how overwhelmed they are with the various juggles that life is placing on them. School and homework and revision and extra-curricular stuff. Or work and family and meeting everyone’s needs. Then there’s the pressure to build in ‘me time’ or exercise or mindfulness practice.
I’ve certainly felt the pressure of multiple challenges myself and used the phrase ‘I’m at capacity from time to time. Juggling running Headspace Guildford and my NHS job and trying to prioritise the other parts of my life is not always easy or stress free. And then worrying about whether I’m managing the juggle or getting the balance right that just adds to the pressure. There is pressure, not just do everything, but to also make sure that priorities are in order and you’re doing everything right.
So often this is what happens – we are stressed, then we get stressed about being stressed. We see other people around us looking like they are sailing through life and we can’t understand how they can be managing when we feel like we are only just keeping it all together. As with so many areas, we compare our insides with everyone elses’ outsides. We have no idea what’s going on with other people when we’re not with them, and what’s going on in their head. We don’t know how much they feel like they are just about keeping it together, or how much they admire you for managing the juggle.
We don’t have to measure up to anyone else. We only have to manage for ourselves. This is the first thing – you’re busy. It’s full on, so focus on that, not on how well others are or aren’t managing.
For me, sticking to my values really helps when I’ve got too much on. Despite being busy knowing that work allows me to live in a way which chimes with my values is important for my own well-being and contentment and has a positive impact on those around me. It’s not a panacea, but it’s one positive thought when I’m feeling ‘at capacity’.
Other things that help is just keeping going, taking one step at a time (see http://headspaceguildford.co.uk/mental-health-is-like-running/). Breathing helps too (see http://headspaceguildford.co.uk/just-breathe/ ). And then, when I have some headspace, thinking about what really is important and what might be something I can skim off my timetable and give myself a break.
Even when we’re busy, we have time for a moment, a few seconds, a minute of mindful time. Even when we’re busy we have time to just look around us. To feel the air on our face or the fabric of the chair on our back. To notice the sounds around us or really taste our coffee. And sometimes these moments help us to see what is really important to us, and that we are coping, making it through, managing the busy-ness.