Making Space When There is None

My life is pretty busy these days, and I’m guessing yours is too.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m in the process of making my way through a Dietetics degree. It’s… not easy. As someone who has a low tolerance for suffering and needs a lot of recovery time (introvert + long days surrounded by young college students = dead), I’ve made the realization that I can’t be “on” as much as others may be able to. Maybe you can relate? I’ll hear classmates talk about how they stayed up until 3 am studying and I’ll think Did I not do enough? I went to sleep at 10, is that bad? I’ll see people spend 10 hours in class and still have energy to volunteer the next morning while it takes me half a day to recover from that much activity… Am I being unrealistic? Am I supposed to suck it up and rest in… 5 years?

Yeah, no. I tried that. I tried working 20 hours a week while going to school full time (some people work full time, I should be able to work part time…). I tried squeezing in volunteering and meal prepping and budgeting and cleaning and being a wife and a daughter (some students have kids, I can handle this…). I tried staying up late to get things done (I did this in high school, why can’t I do it now?). I tried just “dealing with it” and pushing through while constantly comparing myself to what other people where doing.

But here’s the thing. I’m not other people. You’re not other people.

I need a lot of space and recovery time. I’ve always been that way, and when I just surrender and allow myself that time, I’m about 1000% more productive when I finally get back to work.

So how do I make space when there is none? How do I find time to relax and let go and recharge when I have deadlines, financial stress, a marriage to tend to and piles of dishes to wash?

– I surrender to the fact that I can’t do everything.

– I quit my physical job to focus on work I can do from home.

– I let everyone know that I’m not available on Sundays so I can recharge.

– I force myself to wake up at 6 am every single day so I have time for my yoga and gratitude lists.

– I allow my house to get a little messy (hint – keep the room you work in clean and close the freaking door!).

– I take less credit hours than I would like in order to maintain as much sanity as possible.

– And I make room for what brings me joy, like co-hosting a nutrition podcast and walking in nature.

I promise you, if you schedule time to STOP and refill your cup, you will be more productive when you get back to work. I promise. It feels scary at first because of the pressure (from whom…?) to be working or studying or doing every waking minute, but that’s just not sustainable. At least not for me, and if you relate to this, not for you either.

If you’re looking for a place to start, clear your Sunday mornings. Until noon, pledge to make no plans, answer to no one, and stay off of your phone and computer. Do absolutely whatever you’d like to do – sleep in, make a huge breakfast, do yoga or exercise, binge watch your favorite show, take a bath, meditate, bake, read a book, journal, wash your hair, organize your closet, lay in the sun, play with your dog, go for a swim, create, spend time with your spouse and/or kiddos…. care for yourself. If you can only give yourself this one pocket of time all week, that’s GREAT. You’re ahead of the game.

When I decided I was ok with not being perfect at everything, life got a little bit easier. Try it this weekend? Give yourself Sunday morning. See how great it feels to take care of yourself. You’re so, so worth it.

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