Sunday afternoon and I stand back from my handiwork. The sun is streaming in through the skylight in my kitchen and the birds are singing. I contemplate the finished output of my afternoons work and wonder if I should call my family into the kitchen to see what I’ve achieved. I decide to send them a photo on our Whatsapp chat: “Look at the baking cupboard guys!!! Can you see how organised it is?” *crickets (unsurprisingly!) I look behind me and realise that the rest of the kitchen is a disaster zone, with rubbish and debris everywhere and leftover breakfast and lunch dishes scattered everywhere. I guess I better sort that out now. And so the “procrastivity” (aka sneaky avoidance) cycle continues.
Does this sound familiar to you?
We all have different things that suck us away from the things we know we need to do. Often that shows up for the important but boring tasks that we need to get done. So I might alphabetise my recipe books (actually I’d never do that, but you get the idea!) instead of sorting my taxes. But for me at the moment I’m finding procrastivity is showing up around self care. So on Sunday when I was struck by the urgent need to reorganise my bulging baking cupboard, what I was really needing was deep rest. When I was avoiding was actually doing nothing!
Why do we avoid giving ourselves what we need?
After the last twelve months of the stress and overwhelm that most of us have felt, it’s hard to switch gears. We’ve become hard wired for responding in our bodies as if threat is imminent. So if you’ve found that you feel slightly on edge a lot of the time, it’s likely that your nervous system hasn’t got the memo that it’s time to calm down. For many people I talk to, that means that they find themselves stuck in ‘doing’ even when they know they want and need some down time. Or when they do finally stop, they can’t settle into whatever restful activity they’ve chosen. It’s like they’re constantly “on”.
How can you bust the “Procrastivity”?
Here’s my 3 steps to let rest happen: 1. The first step is NOTICING. That sounds super simple doesn’t it but often we’re out of practice with tuning in to how we’re really feeling. We are so used to being stressed that, just like a bad smell in your home, after a while you stop noticing it and it feels normal. ACTION: Before you begin a task, pause for a moment. Close your eyes and just notice how it feels in your body. Does your body feel tense and like your muscles are getting ready to burst into action? Are you clenching anywhere - your shoulders? the muscles of your face? Your belly? Do you feel like doing this will make you feel good or does it feel like it will drain you? Now of course some tasks will never fill you with excitement - but if you feel like your body is filled with treacle when you consider doing something or like you’re a coiled spring, there’s a good chance that you need to switch tracks. 2. Then we need to get CURIOUS When we create space to ask ourselves questions, we can find out whether we are acting in our best interests or on autopilot and obligation. Sometimes we have to get on and do the task anyway because we have a deadline or someone relying on us. BUT, when we know how we truly feel we can choose to make time for rest later. ACTION: Allow yourself to be curious about WHY you need to do the task. Ask the question: is this really what I need to do right now? Is this the kindest thing for me to do for myself? Notice if the thought of asking this feels strange - often we’re not used to considering what we need or want! 3. Do or Do Not… …there is no try! (Yoda!) Have you ever had the experience of being stuck in limbo where you’re not “doing” anything productive but you’re also not “being” either? Sometimes when we’ve noticed how we’re feeling and we’ve explored with curiosity whether we want to take action, we can still feel stuck. This is where it’s time to honour whatever came up for you. ACTION: Make a decision. Are you going to continue with “doing” or are you going to allow space for some rest? If you noticed that you really need to or want to get things done but you really feel the need to rest too, can you create a plan for when you will take time out? Think of it like a contract with yourself.
So what choice will you make?
It can be so hard to take time for ourselves and fully rest and recover. If it feels too difficult to create time to rest then you’re not alone. You may even have found in recent times that some of your usual “go to” recovery practices aren’t working so well.
Sometimes you can’t meditate your way out of overwhelm
This might be surprising to hear me say but sometimes the usual practices you use to find balance might not be enough. It’s a bit like washing your clothes. Normally a quick chuck in the washing machine is enough to clear off the dirt and grime and have things come up as good as new. But if you’ve been thrown into a ditch and been covered in mud and grime, you may well need to give your clothes a soak and deep clean. Likewise, when life has thrown you curve ball after curve ball and you’ve been unable to do the things that normally keep you sane, you need to find extra support.
Come and wash it all away!
I love to create space for my community to take those deeper soaks to replenish and restore as well as build their toolkit for self care. I’m going to be hosting monthly free workshops where I’ll invite guest experts to share their wonderful talents and provide amazing insights. I would love you to join us! The next free session will be on Monday 5 April at 8pm with guest expert Helen Cooper, a holistic healer and therapist who truly is a little bit of magic! You can sign up here and please do share with friends. See you soon.
Laura @ Be. x
"There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all" Peter Drucker