I’m not sure if anyone else has felt this way, but I’ve noticed a strange little psychological loop as I work from home. I’m homebound, so I assume it will be hard to get things done. I feel like I am constantly pushing myself to stay on task. I end up spending 12 hours a day at my computer and am still self-critical about how much I’m getting done. At times I think I’m secretly afraid I’ll fall into the couch and end up binge watching Game of Thrones from the first season all the way through, eating bonbons and waking up from a TV/sugar high stupor in 3 weeks only to find I’m 6 months behind on work.
There’s some kind of subterranean subconscious vibration running through my day. I feel anxious. On the upside, the past two weeks have been among the most productive of the past several years for me, and I love that! Yet, the very tangible risk of burnout looms over all the productivity. I’m not there yet, but this constant alertness and task-orientation takes a toll. So, I did an interesting thing this past Saturday. I let go. And I want to share my experience with you.
Now, I’d love to say that I woke up on Saturday, journaled, meditated, exercised, then contemplated what I wanted to do for the day and consciously decided to take a day off to recharge. Unfortunately, I was still in anxious task-mode… that contemplation did not happen! As I ran through all I needed to do in my head and felt the anxiety of trying to choose how to use my time effectively, I made a small positive decision: I decided to go for a walk. I figured a quick 20-minute walk would help me focus, and the exercise would do all kinds of good. As I reached the creekside park just down the street, I decided to embrace a little exploration.
Turning right, I headed toward the main road and the nature preserve I had seen just across on the other side. I wondered how long it would take to walk to the entrance (for future reference on a day when I might take a longer walk). As I got near the preserve, I decided that I could afford 20 more minutes and continued my journey. Forty minutes later, I was standing beside a pond, being bombarded by the sounds of all kinds of birds and frogs, in a canopy of green illuminated by the sun filtering through from a bright blue sky. My anxiety was gone. I let go of worrying about my day. I gave myself permission to drift.
It’s so easy to frame letting go as decadent or indulgent. Breaks are rest; the work is the productive part. But, returning from my 2-hour walk, having completely disconnected, I found myself sending 4 or 5 emails, returning multiple calls I had been resisting, and sketching out a first draft of this blog post. All within half an hour. I was supercharged. And it was effortless! In addition, the rest and recharge I got from the walk feels like it has stayed with me for the past several days. I get good energy from my shorter walks, but this was fundamentally different. For me, letting myself meander and just savor the time, brought a very different impact.
So, I’m sending my support for those of you who might have the impulse to slow down, drop what you’re doing and venture in some direction that’s calling you in the moment. Even if it’s just to sit and let time and the world wash over you for a minute, I hope you take the opportunity to truly let go. If you do, we’d love to hear your stories. In these strange times, we can all use support in taking care of ourselves. We can all help each other remember that recharging isn’t an impediment or distraction, it is essential to being our best and most productive selves!
Wishing all of us grace and compassion for ourselves and those around us.
Be well. Stay safe.