5 Minutes in the Mayhem

It’s not easy, is it? There are so many demands on your time right now, homeschooling, laundry, keeping the kids occupied, uncertainty over exams, constantly moving things so that everyone has a desk, cooking, cleaning, shopping, queuing, caring for relatives, reaching out to friends, making sure family, friends and colleagues are safe and that their mental health isn’t being impacted, oh and keeping all the plates spinning in work in all those ‘spare’ minutes.

And that’s not even mentioning Covid-19 or anything that’s happening outside your own bubble. You’re going to bed late and up early and you’re exhausted. It’s hard being that person who holds everything together, the person who has to be ok.

This ‘always on’ and ‘always ok’ takes a toll. Physically, Mentally and Emotionally. It can be very tough, particularly if you don’t have the support you might otherwise have had and if your workload has doubled/trebled by all that’s going on. It’s not surprising you’re on your last legs.

If you recognise yourself in this it might be worth taking 5 minutes to step off the treadmill and reset a little, so that you are in a better place to go back to being a superhero. 5 minutes doesn’t sound like much, but when things are threatening to spin off out of control they can be incredibly powerful and can really help, so why not give it a go. 

And I promise. Things can wait 5 minutes. 

  1. Find a time and a place to stop. Somewhere with no interruptions, no emails, no distractions, no notifications, no phone, no lists. Just stop. This can be a walk outside on your own. It can be sitting in the supermarket car park. It can be locking the door of the bathroom. Just stop. Put the mental load down and let it all go for 1 minute.You might feel yourself getting emotional. That’s ok. It has been a heavy load to carry. The tears are simply the relief from setting it down for a moment. Let them come. There’s a huge amount of research into the benefits of crying, so allowing yourself a moment to release them helps immensely.
  2. Breathe. In and out. In and out. Slow down your breathing. Breath in through your nose, keeping your shoulders relaxed if you can. Breathe out through your mouth, relaxing your jaw.  You might feel yourself getting anxious, what are the kids up to, you should be getting lunch ready, you forgot to put that on the shopping list, you need to send that email, set up a meeting with that colleague, support that person in need.  That’s ok. It’s just your brain reacting to the pause. It doesn’t feel right because you haven’t practiced this. It’s a new pair of shoes that you have to wear for a bit to get used to them.  Those things only have to wait 4 more minutes for you. They can wait. Do this for at least 3-4 rounds – about a minute, and for longer if you can spare the time.
  3. Notice what you are feeling. Take a minute to explore what it is that’s going on for you right now. Name it if you can. No judgement allowed, just name it. Anxious, exhausted, emotional, overwhelmed, under resourced, under pressure, stressed, lonely, incapable, unloved, unseen, under appreciated.  They are feelings. Just thoughts and feelings. And it important to know that we are not our thoughts, and we are not our feelings. They are transient. They will pass. And they may not necessarily be true. Just because we feel unloved for example does not mean that we are unloved. Developing the skill to notice what those feelings are and separating ourselves from the feeling allows us to become more resilient, and cope better. 
  4. The 4th minute is to think about what’s really important. When the situation changes yet again, how do you want to remember this period in your life? What do you want to be proud of when you’re telling this story at your 100th birthday?  You already know what this is. Maybe what you are feeling is a pointer for what is truly important to you. If you are feeling unloved for example it highlights how important it is to connect with those you do love and who love you.  You know this stuff. It just gets clouded by all the busyness and you need a moment to remind yourself of it. Pick one thing in each of your roles that is the most important thing to focus on. What is important as a caregiver, what is important as a family member/ friend,  what is important in your job and what is important for you. Go with your gut. Repeat them to yourself.
  5. The final minute is to plan your actions. For each of those roles decide one specific action that you can do and when you can do it today.   For work it’s important that I am X so I will do Y today. For the people who depend on me it’s important that they see me being X so I will focus on Y for them today. For me it is important that I X so I will make sure I Y today.The action doesn’t have to be big and dramatic. Even the tiniest actions help you feel more in control and if they can be focused on what’s important to you then they will give you a sense of purpose and meaning that allows you to keep your head above the wild waters we’re swimming in right now. 

And thats it. unlock the bathroom door, or come back from your walk and face the madness again. But this time it’s on your terms. You are calmer. You are more confident. You are more in control. You are someone who is in control of just these next steps and who knows  why they’re important. And you are someone who knows the benefit of taking 5 minutes for themselves. 

There’s a caveat to all of this of course. This article provides general suggestions for managing those moments of overwhelm when they arise on an adhoc basis. If you are experiencing mental and emotional distress that you can’t manage on your own there are many options for support. Pieta HouseAware and the Samaritans offer an incredible service. For those on the frontline  ConnectACoach offers free coaching support and Lust for Life/ Therapy Hub are offering a free 3o minute psychological first aid session to anyone in need.

This week is International Coaching Week and many ICF coaches are offering pro-bono coaching that may also help. Please reach out to one of these that you can relate to and take advantage of the free coaching. Coaching has been shown to help you process what is going on and helps you tap into your own resilience and capacity. 

And finally please never hesitate to contact us here at Directionality where we strive to help you ease your burden and make your load a little easier to carry.