Most of us live in a context where our life’s always full. It’s rare to find ourselves relaxed and calm with nothing on our plates. But sometimes the stress hits overload and life becomes crazy busy. Unexpected or unplanned events such a sickness or death in the family – or a house move or work project – can push tension levels up to excessive heights. In those moments, the temptation to fold under pressure can be strong.
Part of my week was taken up with a funeral of someone close to our family. I saw the strain on the faces of people I care about. It’s prompted me to think about how we can help each other get through those parts of life. How do you retain your sanity under pressure? I’ve come up with five ways to remain standing in those crazy busy times:
1. Take help from your community
In a world becoming more ‘me’ centric, we’re used to operating from a very small circle of support. It hasn’t always been that way. In the village life era, someone would appear and take the screaming child from you when you were at your wits end!
We need to re-learn to accept help from those closest to us – just as we need to re-learn how to offer it to our own significant others at their high point of need. It becomes swings and roundabouts over time. So, if someone you care about offers help at the point you’re stretched near breaking point, say thank you and take it. We’re not meant to carry the heavy loads alone, even if the little things of life remain our responsibility to manage.
I’ve been pondering, too, that these days sometimes the support’s offered, but there are other times you have to ask. I think often we’re too sucked in by each other’s social media PR to notice that our friends or family need our support. Or we’re rather distracted ourselves! People who care about you will help you if they can – so long as they know you need it! So be brave and reach out with a request, if help’s not being offered.
2. Draw on your belief system
It never ceases to amaze me how poor we tend to be at drawing from the strength inherent in our stated belief systems. Yet if they’re any good, they ought to be of value in the crazy busy parts of life especially.
I’m no expert in all faith systems, but I’ve read research proving people who believe in a kind, loving god are healthier and happier than others, for example. And how just 12 minutes of meditation a day can be good for you. So, at points of intense challenge, reflect on the things that matter to you.
Pray. Meditate. Cite the rosary – or do whatever your belief system suggests will help. If you’re a Christian, remember Jesus told his followers “Do not worry.” Use what you believe to help make sense of the situation and find your way through it.
3. Remember your why
People without a formally defined faith may prefer to skip straight to remembering their values rather than where they came from. That’s where this idea comes from. In their book, ‘The Power of Full Engagement,’ the authors suggest that spiritual matters help define our beliefs, which then shape our values. And understanding them’s the key to living well.
What’s more, they claim we draw energy from the things that matter to us. Remembering your ‘why’ in times of crazy busy pressure can therefore help keep your energy and attention in the situation. Which will then keep moving you forwards when you’re tempted to sit down and wallow in self-doubt or pity.
4. Make or grab bubbles of peace
Even within horrible, tense life stages are little opportunities to take a break from the pressure. If you’re like me, you can become so caught up in the drama and tension you forget to notice those moments. Give them your good attention instead, and grab them with both hands. Take five minutes and your cup of coffee and go sit in the sun. Stop at the beach or a park. Breathe deeply and relax your shoulders, and let some tension slip away, even for a short while. It’ll come back again, don’t you worry!
Finding these little moments to notice the world’s still spinning and be still will counterbalance the intensity of your experience and reset your stress hormones. Which will in turn benefit both your body and your brain. Grab hold of them.
5. Stick to your healthy habits
In times of stress it’s tempting to drop the things you already do that are good for you. Or is it just me who reaches for the chocolate and wants to curl up and sleep? But whilst it’s tempting when life’s crazy busy to let your healthy habits drop, do everything you can to resist the temptation.
The good things we do with regularity give meaning and stability to our days. If you wouldn’t stop brushing your teeth each night or having a shower each morning, why give up the other good disciplines either? Sure, you may need to drop dinner prep to visit someone who’s sick, but buy healthier takeaway or pull something decent from the freezer. Walk for 10 minutes instead of 30. Building habits takes time and effort, so avoid dropping things you’ll only want to get back to later. It’ll save you in the long run – promise!
So hold to your sleep habits, and keep up your good eating. Maintain your exercise. Stick to other routines that normally help your sanity and your life to be stable.
Where are you at?
If your life’s been crazy busy and feeling out of control, you’ve just been handed an opportunity to look for better ways forwards. Don’t waste it. Which of these or other survival strategies are you going to add in this week? If you’re currently in a good space, how can you help someone you care about who’s going through an intense phase of life? Can you offer specific help, or at least refer them to this post as a way of showing your care? The actions we take towards ourselves and others reflect the esteem in which we hold people. May we all know our value in the world, and encourage one another on to personal wellbeing this week.