‘I’m moving too slow!’ My eyes lock onto the hospital clock as I shake my head in disgust. It took me 7-minutes to chart on my patient; my usual 2-minute documentation time slowed down by the doctor’s interruption. My heart begins to race as I do the math. Those lost 5-minutes added to the 10-minute wait time for supplies, in addition to the staff meeting that ran 15 minutes over will make it hard, if not impossible, for me to complete my work today.
I stand up quickly hoping to make up time in transit to my next patient’s room. My head spins with the sudden movement. I steady myself against the desk and for the first time today take note of my body. My belly is clenching in objection for shortening my lunch break to catch up on reports. My bladder is screaming for my long overdue trip to the ladies’ room.
I scan the I.C.U. and watch everyone scurry about. Fast feet, sharp tones, busy minds. Stress, pressure, hyper-drive, adrenaline rush. This place reeks of it. The people and the bodies are showing the effects; overweight, back pain, short tempers, tired eyes.
And I am becoming one of them.
The Fall Out from the Hyper Drive
It’s fascinating to look back on this freak-out moment where the loss of 30 minutes made my day spiral. The mentation I was living by was to put myself last and that fast-paced frenetic multi-tasking was the only way to get the job done. It was driving me into sickness. I had stress-induced acne, a short temper, was losing weight and I had no energy at the end of the day to enjoy my ‘off’ time.
I had devised a regime of self-care to help me deal with the stress. An hour of meditation followed by 90-minutes of yoga, healthy meals, low stimulation and an early bedtime. I would frequently turn down social invitations in order to stick to my regime. I was living on maintenance, doing whatever I could to compensate for my stress, with no other purpose then to be able to wake up the next morning and do it all over again. I was living on a loop that wasn’t enjoyable or sustainable. And I knew it.
Even with that knowing it seemed that living on hyper drive and dealing the resulting crash was the only option. It was all I saw around me. And not just at the hospital. My friends with marriages and kids were juggling family responsibilities, others were dealing with financial strain, some were under pressure developing their first business…
I watched us all living in the same cycle. Hyper drive then crash. Stress then burn out. Frenetic movement then exhaustion. We all had our ways of trying to cope; me with my yoga and strict lifestyle, others with drinking, some would retreat from responsibilities just so nothing else would be added to their plate. We got on well enough with these compensations but no one seemed to be able to break out of the cycle for good.
Eventually, fed up with this way of life, I began to seek out the path from living on hyper drive to the art of relaxed living.
Why Doing Less Is Not the Answer
When I began this journey I thought that doing less and relaxing more was the answer. I was already in this pattern with my ‘no activity evenings’ during the week. A lot of the healers and experts I went to encouraged me down this path further. They suggested I quit my stressful hospital job and remove the external forces that had me challenged day to day.
I followed their advice but found it didn’t have the relaxing effect I was hoping for. When I did less I grew bored and a different kind of stress ensued; one of stagnation and lack of forward movement. I found that by avoiding challenges my self-development halted. I had plenty of time on my hands now but without a place to put my creative energy my mind began to spin and destructive behaviors sprouted.
Relaxed Living A-Ha
Flash forward 8 years from this hospital a-ha moment and my turn down the ‘doing nothing’ path; past thousands of hours of yoga teacher training, meditation practice, application of energy tools from Access Consciousness® and employment of self-care techniques and here I am. Yes, still working in a hospital, and running my own life coaching business, and traveling internationally teaching classes, and hosting a weekly radio show, and releasing my first book, and…
I discovered through this journey that hyper drive and the resulting effects of burn-out, poor body health, unfulfilled desires and a lack of satisfaction aren’t avoided or changed by doing less. It’s not about cutting things out of your life, going to live in a cave or retreating from your responsibilities. Hyper-drive is eased back into relaxed living by changing your perspective on doing and action.
The Lie of Emergency
Do it now! It can’t wait! Deadline! Stat! Yikes!!!!
What occurs when you make everything an emergency? You end up living constantly on hyper drive and fight or flight takes over. You live in reaction to your environment, not in conscious action which will create more for you and everyone around you.
Yes, there are somethings in life that are an emergency — like a life threatening event. That’s pretty much it. Take it from my many years of working in an Intensive Care Unit; even big events will hold long enough for you to take a breath, a bathroom break or the space to prioritize. You only need to come running for the codes.
Hyper drive is fed when we take the pressure of emergency and the need to ‘do it now’ and generalize it to all aspects of our lives. When you engage with life from this point of view you end up living on adrenaline. Fight or fight mode kicks in, burns up your energy and exhaustion ensues. Choosing your action steps consciously are difficult, if not impossible, from this space as you are functioning from baser instincts and ingrained reaction patterns.
What can you do when you notice yourself functioning from this pressured stance? Stop. Take a breath. Feel your feet on the floor. Become present in the moment. Ask yourself; If I wasn’t functioning from emergency here what would I choose next? Sometimes it’s a slower pace, a more focused attention, a change in activity; whatever awareness you gain follow that and allow yourself to move into relaxed action.
The Secret of Adaptability
There are many studies being done on the topic of happiness. They state that those that are adaptable to change are generally happier and more relaxed. I have found this to be true.
Whenever we try to keep to a schedule, a routine, a way of life or a relationship a tension develops. The act of holding on to something not only creates a stagnant energy, it can feed hyper drive in an effort to maintain what is and fight change. It also halts the natural evolution of life and the creative energy of the universe.
Maintaining the status quo or holding on to something that we love can give us a sense of comfort, predictability and control. But what occurs when life and circumstances change as they almost always do? Are we able to move with life’s events or do we rigidly hold on to the past, fight the future and become despondent in the present?
That being said; there are things in life that are worth the maintenance. It’s only when we try to maintain everything that hyper drive ensues. A great trick is to follow the saying ‘know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ‘em.’ Begin to develop your awareness as to which is which:
When to hold ’em; What creations may need a bit more energy, attention and growing room to fully develop? What aspects of your life sustain and nurture you?
When to fold ’em; Where you are trying to maintain things that desire to change or fall away thus clearing space for something new to appear? What aspects of your life are depleting you and adding more stress then possibilities?
Work Smarter Not Harder
Are you working harder then you have to? There is a pervasive and insidious point of view in this world that hard work creates the greatest results. If you live by this perspective then you may be in the hyper drive pattern of do-do-do all the while getting frustrated with the lack of results, slow progress and exhaustion that ensues.
More isn’t always better, sometimes it is just more. We spin our wheels in frenetic doing by putting energy into tasks that don’t produce, in old behaviors that no longer serve us and by engaging in formulaic ways of creating that aren’t authentic to us. These lead to ‘leaky faucets’ of energy where we lose steam, the fast track of creation and relaxed action.
Start to explore where you can put in the least amount of effort to get the maximum result. Where do you need to put your attention in this moment? What will create the most if you engage with it right now? Follow your awareness by letting go of all other tasks and give your full attention to the one that pops.
If you didn’t have to hold on to the ‘old’ ways of doing things — your job, relationship, daily schedule — would you see different possibilities? How can you do things differently that will give you more of a relaxed state of being and less of a frenetic state of doing? Are there new systems you could put into place that would streamline things at home or at work?
Our creative zest, which inspires relaxed living, is unique and individualized. You won’t find the answer by comparing yourself to someone else or trying to emulate their way of life. Start to explore where your sweet spot is. What’s your way of creating relationships, family and business? It will look differently for all of us. Allow yourself to give up the hard work of formulaic living, be unique and to live as only you can.
It’s Not What You Do but How You Do It That Matters
Have you ever noticed how some people can juggle a busy schedule with ease while others struggle? How some can go-go-go and still be relaxed, well rested and happy? What’s the secret?
The people who are doing from a space of gratitude have an endless supply of energy. Gratitude for the ability to raise a family, create a relationship, be successful at work, touch your toes in a yoga class or contribute to a friend in need adds energy to your bank and creates a fuel source for living. Your body/mind can relax into knowing that you are creative, contributory and doing well in the moment.
If there is a lack of gratitude for where you are in your life and what you are engaging with then an inner angst kicks in. Hyper drive is fed as you fight to push past where you currently are. The struggle against and resistance of your circumstances swallows up your forward momentum for change.
Creation and personal growth are easier with gratitude. Being happy in the moment and wondering how it gets better is a magical combination for presence, relaxation and an open space for exploring what you can choose to create more possibilities in your life.
Have gratitude for where you are. Use that as an energy source and platform to spring ahead. Give up the fight and resistance. Be in the wonderment of how your life can get better.
Giving up hyper drive and embracing relaxed living is not a one-time-only choice. It is a way of life. From my perspective life is the collection of moments and each moment holds a choice. Each choice you make towards relaxed living will create more of a state of wellness, happiness and creative spurts that will accumulate into a life well lived and very much enjoyed.
Originally published at medium.com