There was no way I was going to make it on time….
I was trying to get out the door to head to a yoga class after a meeting that ran late when the phone rang with a call I needed to take. Then, when I was finally on my way, I got caught behind a snow plow.
I imagine you’ve had a moment or two like this. (If it’s just one or two, let me know your secret, please.) It might not even seem like you’re trying to accomplish very much, but the “little things” add up and all of a sudden there is pressure to be in two (or three) places at once, and it feels like you have too much on your plate. It can pretty quickly start to feel overwhelming. The brain gets triggered into “rush mode” and you speed up.
Oh crap how can it already be so late – urgency in the voice rises – we have to get in the car now – body tension increases – tunnel vision sets in – breath shortens – we race around – it gets frantic quickly. And usually, it stays with us. We’re in the car, and whether we’re driving a reasonable 45, or have the pedal pressed to the metal, our minds and bodies are still propelled into overdrive. Our thinking is not at it’s best, and urgency and rush feel like all we can do.
Urgency doesn’t help. It just feels bad.
And creates its own set of problems.
The urgency and frenzy we get into is often an automatic response that kicks us into flight/fight mode. Now I’m a big fan of fight/fight – it’s a brilliant part of our survival system and it comes in really handy when our lives are in danger. But running late isn’t this kind of a threat. Another thing that fuels the urgency is the sense that we’re doing something wrong and we feel bad, guilty, inadequate, embarrassed.
If we go into fight/flight mode or overdrive to make up for a sense of inadequacy, we end up stressed, tense, frenzied, flustered, rigid, maybe panicky…and still running late. There is a tendency to get wound up, but not wind down.
Do this over and over and it teaches the body that this is how you should respond to running late. Then it leads to all those problems associated with stress – headaches, stomach problems, neck, jaw and shoulder pain, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and so on.
You really are busy and you really do have a lot on your plate.
Sometimes you’re late for something fun or nice, like yoga class and sometimes you’re scrambling to get to a meeting or a family obligation. Somehow, it all seems to trigger that sense of not having enough time and of being spread too thin.
What if instead of tensing into it, you let yourself realize that you’ve got a lot going on and that you are human and that it’s not only okay, but really good to shift out of overdrive and into a calmer state of mind and body.
Becoming aware of what is happening in your mind, your body and your environment and responding with kindness is a key step in developing mindfulness.
Feeling calm won’t make you late. In fact, it can even feel magical!
It might even help manage the time more efficiently. It’ll certainly feel better and in the long-run, lead to greater well-being.
It felt so good to catch myself on my way to frenzy as I headed off to my yoga class. I had one of those good “duh!” moments, remembering that I was going to yoga for me!! And, wasn’t it kinda crazy to get myself stressed out en route to self-care?
So, I slowed down. Mostly internally. But maybe a little on the outside too. It was really ok to be an extra few minutes late. I entered the building as class was getting started and instead of bee-lining it to get changed, I looked around to take in the scene. I saw faces I knew, I could hear the laughter in the teacher’s voice, I felt the floor beneath my feet and the call to go sweat – ahhh, yogis and sunshine – and felt happy to be there.
Then, I took my sweet time getting ready and really enjoyed the sense of freedom that not rushing gave me. A few minutes of my own stretching later, I got caught up with the class and didn’t have to spend any time downshifting because I was already in a soft and serene state. It was lovely.
I didn’t actually time travel, but the change in body/mind state made it feel like I entered a slow motion reality, like a movie where the daffodils blur to soft yellow with the fading sunshine and you can smell the freshness in the air.
It’s Your turn!
YOUR BODY KNOWS
Being present in the moment and taking care of ourselves so that we’re in a calm state of body and mind changes our sense of time and opens our options for how we can respond to life.
I’d like to invite you to take a moment to play with some tools that might help decrease that sense of frenzy that you might find yourself caught in. Try out one or two of the ideas, or create your own. Really ask yourself: what might work for you?
- Take three big inhales and let them out with even bigger exhales. Roll your head and shoulders. Shake out your arms. I mean, really shake them, like you’re trying to get something sticky off them. Stick out your tongue!
- Remember a time doing something with NO frenzy. It might be spending time with a friend, reading on a weekend, doing a creative activity or hobby. Take time to connect to the memory with your senses – the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and what your body felt. Enjoy it. Notice how you feel. Imagine what it would be like to feel this way more of the time.
- Find a way to remind yourself to SLOW DOWN so it becomes more of a habit. Put a note on your mirror, your car keys, your coffee maker. Cut out a picture of something that makes you smile and put it in a place you tend to rush.
Beyond the Breath
Sometimes you need to slow down and take a breath and sometimes you need more support. If you find yourself feeling stressed or frenzied a lot, people who love you are saying you need to slow down, or if you have a sense that you are in a state of overwhelm, then I invite you to take bigger steps to get some help. There are many options for support, from friends to self-help books, spiritual guidance to therapy.
If you’d like to see if a creative, body-centered approach to therapy might be right for you, please get in touch to schedule a free consultation.