Resting in a Culture of Busy

I’ve come across a couple articles in the past week that have really resonated with me, and both are on embracing rest in a culture of busy. (see them both here and here!)

As someone that goes to school at a university that is a pressure cooker of stress and competition and as someone who lives in a city that always has something going on, it can feel particularly indulgent (and not in a good way) and guilt-inducing to just want to rest. I feel like I need to soak up everything the city has to offer and that I should always be twenty steps ahead of the game in terms of my work. 

It feels like there’s always something going on around campus or around the city, and there’s always more work I could be doing, but there are times where all I want to do is curl up in my bed with a book and some tea and hang out alone. Or watch tv and be mindless. Or escape everything and just go laze around with a friend in a park and do nothing. It feels so wonderful to be free of the “I have to’s” or the “we should do’s” of life and just connect with yourself or maybe just one other person. I’m a major extrovert, but this is the first year of my life that I’ve loved spending time alone. I’ve started to really enjoy time alone to read, rest, recharge or do whatever I need, and I’ve seen my mental state shift a lot. 

Even in a culture of busy or a culture in which stress and success are two major factors, rest is sometimes the antidote to everything going on in life. There’s certainly nothing wrong with resting when you get a chance, but there’s also nothing wrong with making time to rest too. Sometimes you need to close the door and get away from everything and sometimes you just need to be with yourself and recharge. 

Someone once told me that you cannot pour from an empty cup- so if you’re feeling depleted, don’t run on empty. Take your time to fill your cup however you need to, and then move along as you see fit. 

Rest, nap, read, lounge, laze, run, just do what you need to recharge! 

Intention Behind Actions

This post is inspired in two different ways- one by a few blogs/blog posts I’ve come across (like this one and this one), and by my personal life/experience. I have a few close friends who have impacted my life in terms of encouraging and inspiring me to turn an eye on how I’m living my life (Cai, Amy, and Talisa- this one is for you!).

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I have had a few conversations with all three of these incredible women about how our values and our wants and passions line up with how we live our lives, and I found myself realizing, after many of these conversations, that my values and my passions aren’t what’s pushing my everyday life.

This prompted me to look for what it was in my life that was pushing my daily life forward, and if it wasn’t my values or passions, what the hell was it? I realized that habit and convenience were pushing my life forward, two things that I resent more than I should. I pride myself on being mindful and thoughtful and I came to a point where I realized I wasn’t implementing either in terms of how I live my life on a day to day basis. I was doing the same thing every single day and I came to realize I'd been living the same day over and over again for close to a year, if not more. I really hated coming to that realization, because it made me deeply uncomfortable with being and doing the same old, same old. I live in the biggest, brightest city (or one of them), and I'm young and have my whole life ahead of me, and I'm sitting here, on my butt, doing the same thing day in and day out. Coming to this realization was like a ton of bricks to the face. 

That’s where Intentional Living comes in. This is something that my friends and I had discussed at length, but basically the way I've learned to define it, intentional living is asking why you do things the way that you do them, and the end goal is to be happy with your answers. I realized that I wasn’t happy with my answers (in that I was doing things because it was easy, convenient and the way I'd been doing them) and I needed to take more than a couple big steps back to figure out a) what wasn’t aligned, and b) how to align my values and my daily schedule.

Intentional living is not a answer to your questions, by any means- it’s not saying that you know the best answer to the question of why you do things, or giving a “perfect" answer, even. It’s about recognizing that you need to shift your thought process to reach your goals- that you need to put intention into what you do instead of drifting through life aimlessly (I know y'all, I'm getting deeeeep).

My favorite quote from the Simply Fiercely post is “Know that you can choose to be intentional about your direction without knowing your final destination… Your core values are how you choose your direction.” It’s less about figuring everything out and more about figuring the foundation out and moving up from there. For me, it meant making hard decisions, putting in a lot of work to myself (including painful work like restarting therapy frequently), and shifting my priorities. For others, it could look very different. At its core, intentional living is putting intention and thought behind the decisions you make each day to refocus your life to reach goals that you want to attain. 

It's a really hard realization to come to- that you have no clue what you're doing or why you're doing it. It feels like you've been asleep at the wheel. Coming to that hard realization really put me in an awful funk, and I wanted to get out of that funk more than I had wanted to do anything in a long time- that's what prompted me to start talking to friends about their passions and figure out where the hell I need to look towards to figure out mine. I'm still super lost, but I'm at least trying a little bit every day to find where I want to end up. 

 

Hope y'all enjoyed this more... honest side of me. I've been trying to figure out how to write this, but I hope you liked it!

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5 Ways To Do Less

Hi friends!

First off, I feel like this title is me going straight for the self-deprecating zing right back at myself. The amount I say "do less" to myself or the amount someone else says it to me on a daily basis is much, much higher than it should be. I'm also laughing while writing this because I'm writing this after 7 hours in the library and 3 hours of sorority meetings, so I am truly NOT living what I am writing (shocking...). 

As senior year begins and I try to somehow catch my footing, I find that the one thing that I've been missing is blogging. Writing is a wonderful outlet for me, so finding/forcing myself to find the time every day to commit to writing a post shouldn't be as hard as it's been. I'm also forcing myself to give myself more time to do what I enjoy, even if it means sitting in bed at 1 am, on a Sunday night, writing a blog post. 

So, against everything that I've said in the past two paragraphs, while I get my footing back in school, I'm generally trying to "do less"- whether that means I'll try to be less extra, or actually do less on a day to day aspect, we'll see what actually happens. In terms of doing less, I'm trying to do these few things:

1. Give less of your mental energy

I use the term mental energy so much, my friends must be ready to slap me silly. But, it's true! We all have thoughts that take up space in our brain, but take up time when we think about them! I call this "taking up mental energy". If you're constantly thinking about something, it's draining your mental energy. If you can stop focusing on something and allow yourself to put it to the side, then you can give less of your mental energy to it. 

2. Care less 

This is similar to the previous point, but slightly more aggressive. At some point, you have to stop caring. Caring about what other people think, what other people are doing, and etc, etc. I really came into this year thinking so much about the ways that other seniors were living their life and trying to get myself to live what I thought was the perfect senior year life , and after being on campus for two weeks, I've realized that FOMO and trying to reach goals of something that I'm not really isn't worth my time. I need to and want to spend my time differently than some other seniors on campus and some of my close friends and that's completely fine. I'm not a fan of forcing myself to go to an event I don't want to just because my friends are going. Sometimes you have to force yourself to simply care less about what others are doing in that moment or what you worry someone may be thinking about you- nine times out of ten, the other people will miss your presence, but not give even two seconds of thought to judge what you're doing. 

3. Be realistic

Going off the previous point, know your limits. If you can't do all of your reading for class in two days, maybe don't even try to do that. Give yourself the time you actually need to get things done, so you're not overly stressing in one moment. Also, be realistic and know yourself. If you tend to bail on tentative plans (hi, it me), sit down the moment you want to make a plan with someone and schedule it THAT second with them. If you think realisitically about the time you have and the way you tend to spend it, you can save yourself a lot of drama/mental energy (hey there it is again!) in the long run. 

4. Be selfish

Similarly to my second point- put yourself first. Yes, be kind, yes, be caring, but also: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Or put bluntly, do what you want before you do what others want. After spending at least three years, but more like 20 years, of being very giving with my time to others, it's hard to suddenly reclaim it and try to take charge of my free time. I feel like I'm being wasteful or selfish in a bad way, when in reality, giving myself time to do what I want, not what others want, actually gives me a chance to recharge!

5. Ask for help

This is something I've learned the hard way. It sucks to come to a point where you really aren't feeling all those "I've got this sh*t down pat* vibe. It sucks even more if you have too much on your plate and you're too committed/passionate/in love with what you're doing to drop anything on your plate. That's when you really have to lean on your support systems. I've seen this Emily McDowell greeting card going around online, and it's basically my life at this point. I've leaned heavily into my support system since coming back to school, and it's helped me insanely. My friends know that I need to put myself first and they remind me to do so when I start to forget and overload myself- having friends that help you to hold yourself accountable and who take care of you are the best support system you can find. Lean on who you need to and give yourself the time and space you need and allow your friends to help you find it!

I hope y'all enjoyed this- for me, "doing less" is kind of about freeing up the energy you need to bring your *zest* for life back into your life. It's about reducing stress and anxiety and being able to lean into what you really love!

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How to Balance School, Work and Play

Hey friends! Happy Thursday! I'm currently finishing up the semester and doing so, I'm taking a good, long look at how I spent this semester and how I prioritized my time, in both good and bad ways. 

Life is a pretty overwhelming thing, and especially in college; when you're trying to balance 5 hours of class a day, multiple hours of work, being a human, being a good friend, and being a good child and still feeling like you have time to give to clubs. When you're super ambitious and like filling your hours to the brim, there are times where you have to press pause and check in and see where your balance is. I do my best to balance everything, and here are my tips on how you can too! 

1. Calendars on calendars on calendars. 

I literally have two physical planners, a phone calendar, my Google Calendar, and my iCal and I use all of them. Keeping up with my personal schedule, TA'ing, Gamma Phi stuff, my homework and exams, seeing family, and deadlines often overwhelms me to see it all in one single planner. I find that using one just for sorority stuff and homework is helpful and using one for personal and work events is also helpful! My Google Calendar is my favorite though, since it syncs to my phone and I can color code by calendar! 

2. Reminders for evvvvverything. 

Sometimes, it's easier to write down exactly when you're going to do something than adding it to a to-do list. I've been known to even schedule in my showers, laundry runs and grocery runs because otherwise it won't happen and I'll end up doing something else. 

3. It's okay to say no, cancel, or push back. 

Everyone around you is probably in the same boat. If you and your friends are stressed, it's okay to postpone a lunch meeting until after finals or even cancel if need be. Remember that people will understand, but also continue to remember to make an effort!

4. Use your free time wisely! 

Sometimes having a free afternoon can seem like a great time to fool around and not get anything done, but it's nice to have longer chunks of time to do lots of smaller things! I like to keep Sunday mornings free to have the option to sleep in or grab lunch before I do work during the afternoons. 

5. Even small chunks of time are great!

I use even my ten to fifteen minute breaks between classes sometimes to get things done- small tasks like picking up my packages, mailing a check or organizing my planner are things that are usually on my to-do list, so using short breaks in the day is so useful for getting little tasks done!

6. Schedule in me time

One of the biggest tips I ever got from a fellow sister is to take at least 30 minutes of me time a day. She even told me to schedule it into my calendar so I won't ignore it. The me time can be a nap, a coffee break, or just resting. As someone that tends to overbook myself with others, it's nice to be able to know I have time to myself too. 

7. Feel free to leave your calendar blank too!

There are going to times where things don't go as planned, or even where you just need a break. I try to leave my Fridays as free as possible without scheduling anything so I can use them as spontaneous days- whether I end up doing something fun or productive, it's nice to have a big chunk of time to be free to do what I want or need! 

8. Declutter.

I've found I actually get more overwhelmed when I don't take the time to clean my room. If my space is messy, it's hard to focus on tasks at hand. The best way for me to feel like I can take on the world is if my space is clutter free and focused. 

9. Brain Dumps

One thing I swear by is keeping a Brain Dump. Whenever my mind feels cluttered or I can't focus or sleep, I open my phone or laptop (whichever is nearest) and just write everything on my mind- whether it's a task that needs to get done or an emotion that won't budge. Often times, I'll end up with a list of 10-15 tasks that take all of two minutes to do, so it's nice to be able to have a master list of things to knock out when I want to feel accomplished. Sometimes, if it's a list of things I need to ask others or remind others to do (#delegation), I'll write the point person's name next to whatever it is that needs to be done. 

10. Remember to take a step back.

Sometimes it's really easy to get caught up in lots of minor details, and things feel overwhelming. The best thing to do is take a step back and re-evaluate. Where are your priorities at this given moment? Is this where you want them to be? How can you reshift? Sometimes, the most important priority should be yourself. Sometimes, taking a weekend or night off to just let loose, have fun and focus on yourself is just what you need.

How do you balance all your priorities?