Hope you’re having a fabulous week.
In my last blog, I mentioned that March came in like a lion in my life. I found myself inundated with work. I felt pressured, stressed, and sick, and I had no choice but to push through until my deadlines had been met. After the storm finally passed sometime mid-month, I badly needed reprieve. So I made a decision: I gave myself permission to go into what I called “Bare Minimum Mode” until the end of the month.
I defined Bare Minimum mode as follows:
1. No extra work. Anything that could be put off, was.
2. Permission to do imperfect work. This was a big one- I place constant pressure on myself to be a creative genius all the time.
3. Permission to slack off on the tedium. No pressure to get it all done. Laundry can wait. Make the bed? Nope. Takeout for dinner? Yep.
For two weeks, I did the bare minimum I needed to do to meet deadlines, perform at work, and keep the family unit intact.
And something amazing happened. Not only did I get it all done and then some, but I lost weight, found time, got more creative, and felt more energized than I have in months. Here’s what happened:
In allowing for shortcuts, I found creativity. I gave myself permission to repeat playlists at SoulCycle (we are widely known for never repeating playlists but I keep past classes just in case). BUT in giving myself permission, I probably actually did it once out of the 16 classes I taught while in Bare Minimum Mode. Yes, I looked back with every intention of grabbing to go, but then I’d get inspired by a song I had forgotten about and built an entirely new playlist from there, in half the time. My classes during those weeks were some of my favorite this year to date.
In giving myself permission to take my time, I felt like I had nothing BUT time. No rushing, no frantic mad dashes ANYWHERE. In the absence of pressure, I was productive as hell. I got my taxes done earlier than ever before, spent afternoons visiting with friends or relaxing. Like, WHERE DID THIS TIME COME FROM? It felt so weird! I felt like I was constantly forgetting to do something. But I wasn’t. Which brings me to the question: Are we REALLY as busy as we think we are, or does stress inflate our feelings of “should?” (tweet that!) My Weight Watchers leader years ago had a saying: “Stop shoulding all over yourself.” Point taken.
I felt slimmer and the scale reflected it too. With the decrease of the stress hormone cortisol in my system, I actually dropped a couple of pounds. I weigh in once a week- it’s an old habit that keeps me honest and accountable to my daily eating habits, good AND bad.
I spruced up my house. Did a little spring purge, took time to design my new dining room, tidied up. I did not think I would have time for this. But without the business of the other BS, there it was. And every day when I walk into my dining room, even though it’s not done yet, it makes me happy. It’s light and spacious and clear. I’d like to feel the same way all the time!
So here’s what I learned by forcing myself into Bare Minimum Mode:
Stress is in our heads and being hard on ourselves is counterproductive. I went into Bare Minimum Mode because I was exhausted and depleted and felt there was no other alternative. Now I am challenging myself to stay in this mode because it’s actually GREAT.
FOR YOU: I invite YOU to give yourself space to breathe, permission to chill, and relief from the pressure to be perfect. Try it for two weeks. Ask yourself these questions:
1. What can I eliminate?
2. What is truly urgent?
3. Why am I making such a big deal about (insert stressful situation here)?
4. What am I missing by working myself up like this?
5. How do I really want to spend my time?
6. How do I want to feel?
Perfect doesn’t exist.
The work never ends.
The key to dealing with stress is how we handle it.
And life is happening all around us. Let’s enjoy it.