To-do #1: Breathe.

By 11:15 a.m. on January 1, I had already broken my New Year’s Intention. Twice.  What pray tell was this intention? Exercise more? Eat better? Make more art? No, it was simply that I declared a moratorium on volunteering.

I am feeling fairly swamped lately by all of the things that I have willingly agreed to do. But when I am really stressed out, the fact that I chose these activities is little solace. Thus, the moratorium on volunteering which is proving very difficult to stand by. So difficult in fact, that I have considered ditching the idea altogether. After all, how hard are the things I am asked to do? Most of them are simple, don’t take much time, and help out the person doing the asking. Who can say no to that? Clearly I can’t.

Being engaged in a community and a profession means that many wonderful service opportunities come my way. How can I realistically think that I can say no to them? I think the real trick and the real intention is to find a balance so that I can help out and still have some fuel left over for myself. Over the past few weeks, I have been way too stressed out. This is a recipe for disaster for me. I invariably get sick when this happens and I let go of my self-care routines.

I spent this weekend getting myself back on track with my diet and exercise routines, taking care of household chores that were piling up, reconnecting with friends, and trying to relax and stay in the moment. Oh sure, I have a long list of things to do for school, work and church. But just for this weekend, I let myself have some breathing room and stopped forcing myself to maximize every free moment.

My new New Year’s Intention is to volunteer to take better care of myself. Crossing things off the to-do list isn’t as satisfying when I can’t enjoy the fruits of my labor. Getting things done for the sake of getting things done provides little comfort at the end of the day. The real problem that drove my original intention is not volunteering too much but rather that I left little time for my own rejuvenation. Now, let’s all take a big cleansing breath! Happy New Year!


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