Happy New Year? More like Wacky New Year! I’m not sure why 2013 has felt so intense already, but there is some pressure in the air. Maybe its because we want to make sure we do better than we did last year? Maybe its because this is the time to make new plans and take new action? Maybe it’s because the stars from a far off galaxy have come into alignment and Jupiter’s fourth moon is in retrograde? – Okay, maybe not that last one.
Seriously though, it’s almost astonishing how many people this week have brought up how stressed out they are already. And it’s only been one week into 2013! Panic attacks, insomnia, deadlines approaching too quickly, violent flu viruses…it’s certainly starting off to be a whirlwind year. What pressure did you put on yourself that first week?
Let’s stop this pattern before it starts to spiral out of control and look something like this: You packed your plate really full starting January 1st. But of course! After taking at least a week off for the holidays you had a lot of catching up to do, naturally. So, pedal to the medal, you loaded your to-do list, took on new projects, made resolutions, set goals, sent thank you cards, started a new book, cleaned your entire house… do I need to keep going? No wonder we’re anxious.
It’s completely natural to take a lot on in the new year. We’ve got energy to boot, and lots of ideas we want to take action on. But, it’s impossible to get it all done in one week – I tried it. And the stress I’ve seen clients, friends, and even myself experience this week is not too shocking in hindsight. We just went from zero (holiday vacay) to sixty (the new year on crack) in t-minus one week!
Let’s take a moment to slooooooow down. We’ve got fifty-one more weeks ahead of us. And at this pace, a big crash and burn is inevitable in as few as three. Here are some tactics to get us prepared and relaxed:
- Take one thing OFF your to-do list. Trust me, if you’re reading this you’re probably an ambitious career woman as it is, so this isn’t you being lazy. By doing less, you can actually get more done because you’re more focused and energized. There is at least one thing on your agenda that you can remove (for now) that won’t cause the world to end. As you cross it off release a sigh of relief, or make a note “Come back to this 2/1/13”.
- Spend one hour organizing. We often skip the vital step of preparation when it comes to everything we’ve got on our plates. Think you can’t afford to take 60 minutes doing this? Well think again, because it could save you hours of work by the end of the week! Sunday nights or Monday mornings can be a good time to do this. Look over your calendar and project lists. Create a plan that encompasses what you need to get done for each day and for the week overall. Even if you don’t follow it entirely, the act of doing this can relieve some anxiety.
- Keep the fun. When we feel overwhelmed, it’s really easy to cancel workouts, lunch dates, and movie nights with lovers. It can feel like “I just can’t do this, I don’t have any time!” Give yourself a break to do something you love and enjoy: It boosts your ability to focus and accomplish tasks when you return to them. Forbes magazine chimes in about fun breaks saying, “They will boost your productivity and sense of well being.” Just don’t go overboard and let lunch turn into three cocktails — that will lead to procrastination.
- Quiet your mind. As a yogi, I’m a huge fan of meditation, but this can be done a number of ways. Running, taking a bath, savoring a glass of wine, listening to calming music, are all ways to get some space from your mental chatter. If you find your mind is still racing, it can help to have an outlet to get your thoughts out of your head. Try talking to a close friend or spouse, or if you’re alone, writing your thoughts into a notebook.
Let’s think of this first week as a test run. We had this time to work out some kinks, test the system, and now we know how to run efficiently with some additional wisdom. 2013 is truly going to be an amazing year, lets make sure we get past week two!