They say you can’t do it all, so you should pick your priorities and eliminate any distractions. But what happens when you pick your priorities and it still seems like too much to handle?
I’m a working mom who loves her child, her career, her friends and her hobbies: I’ve eliminated plenty of distractions already, but at this point I cannot remove anything else from my life without losing something important to me. However, juggling so many balls can take a serious toll on your well-being if you don’t also strive for balance and organization.
Over time I have found ways to handle the chaos without sacrificing my mental health. Here are some vital principles to remember if you want to do it all:
Practice daily and nightly rituals to restore your sense of calm.
The coping mechanisms you already turn to can be a clue to the kinds of rituals you will find most restorative. What do you find yourself doing when you have a free moment to breathe? Your rituals might involve a glass of wine each evening or a meditation practice when you wake up, or some other small habit that helps you relax.
A ritual can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. For example, I boost my self-confidence and motivation before work by listening to a motivational playlist during the morning commute. And at night I often unwind by taking a hot bath with dimmed lights and scented candles.
“Rituals appear to benefit even people who claim not to believe that rituals work,” according to Francesca Gino and Michael Norton—so if you want to play the skeptic, try to implement a daily calming ritual anyway, and give it a week or two of genuine effort.
Audit your eating and sleeping habits, as well as any other lifestyle choices that could impact your health.
Stress thrives on unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as poor diet or insufficient sleep. Adjusting your nutrition and relaxation habits may not solve all your problems, but it will help support your quest for greater calm in the midst of a chaotic life.
Charlotte Watts and Anna Magee offer a useful quiz for evaluating possible links between your personal brand of anxiety and your diet. You can also review sleep recommendations for your stage of life and evaluate whether a change to your habits will be necessary for improved mental and physical health. It might be time for you to reconsider your sleeping arrangements to enhance your comfort and get better rest at night.
You may still have some work ahead of you to implement those necessary changes, but understanding the relationship between your lifestyle and your health will at least take you halfway to supporting a greater sense of calm.
Discover the method of organization that works best for you.
Once you have improved your overall lifestyle, focus on straightening out all your obligations and goals.
Bullet journals alone don’t work for me because I lack the artistic skill to make each page visually appealing. Yet I still appreciate the feeling of writing something down on pen and paper, so I couldn’t move to a purely digital system. As a result, my personal method comprises a carefully curated mix of digital and analog elements.
Thus, I track and set long-term goals on digital spreadsheets; I write my daily to-do list on a new sticky note each morning; and I carry a planner to record random thoughts, reminders and other necessary notes as they occur to me.
Feel free to experiment before settling on one system. Try journaling for a week, then play around with mobile apps for a few days. Ask your friends and colleagues what works for them. Eventually you will stumble on a system that fits your life and needs.
You can pursue all of your priorities without having to sacrifice your health or your peace of mind. Just remember to constantly reflect on your choices and habits, and make necessary changes to preserve your calm.