9 things to avoid right now

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‘Tis the season of overwhelm. Everyone I talk with seems to be crammed full to the brim right now, walking around spinning plates, balancing eggs, lassoing steers—all with a car in the shop, someone (or many someones) needing extra care or relief, and an extra dose of what-are-we-gonna-do-about-my-halloween-costume.

I wrote this post a couple of months ago about what to do when your hair is on fire (metaphorically), and today I’m writing about what we’d do well to avoid right now.

Since you’ve got 27 things to do after you read this, I’ll jump right in:

1: Avoid self-flagellating when you stay up (much) later than usual, several nights in a row to get things done. (This is not your normal.)

2: Avoid calling yourself an idiot-moron-dumbass when you stop working at 2:00 a.m. and catch yourself 20 minutes later working on the jigsaw that’s on the kitchen table because “you need to decompress before bed.” (Try to laugh. Do put down the piece you are holding, and go to bed.)

3: Avoid giving yourself a pass on brushing and flossing your teeth before bed. Even if it’s late at night. Even if it’s way late at night. (Brush your teeth. It takes three minutes, and you are too old to play with dental health anymore. It’s expensive, and it takes a lot of time in the long run.)

4: Avoid letting your last thought before you fall asleep be, “I have to wake up in four hours. Tomorrow is going to suck.” (Try this one: “I will be tired tomorrow morning, and I will still smile at the people who live with me and say good morning.” I actually try to picture myself doing that, and for some reason that corny step works.)

5: Avoid going twenty minutes out of your way to return an overdue library book and make yourself late to pick up your kid, do your laundry, or show up for a meeting. (If you can afford the couple of dollars’ fee that will accrue over the next few days, count yourself lucky and pay it next week. Your donation will help the library, and showing up on time will help you.)

6: Avoid the assumption that you can’t have lunch with your friends in the middle of a week like this. (Having lunch with your friends does not mean you no longer have the right to the “holy-crap-this-week-is-intense” feeling.)

7: Also, avoid the assumption that having lunch with your friends in the middle of a week like this automatically qualifies as self-care. (You have to decide which kind of self-care is most important for today.)

8: Avoid letting a meeting keep you longer than you planned. Meetings are potato chips and candy during weeks like these. (Set the alarm on your phone to go off 5 or 10 minutes before you have to leave, wrap it up, and then stand up and walk out. If you’re part of a bigger meeting, signal to others when you’re leaving, and go. Others will likely follow soon after, and you will be doing everyone a favor EVEN IF there are things left un-discussed.)

9: Avoid pretending it’s just you. (It’s not. Really. If you look around you, you’ll see that you are certainly not alone.)