Mother. Wife. CFO of the Stephens House. Friend. Soldier. Instructor. Senior NCO. Mental Health Professional. Coach. Christian. Alcoholic. Blogger. Social Media Outreach Person (that’s a title, right?). These are just a few of the titles I carry. The list goes on and on. With these titles comes all sorts of pressure. There’s only 24 hours in the day and I expect myself to carry out the duties and tasks of all of these titles to perfection. It’s a little crazy now that I think about it.
The key word in there is expectation. I expect myself to be able to perform. While some titles come with additional performance pressure than others, what really defines my performance is my own expectations. I’ve been in the military for over 14 years now. My performance standards are to go above and beyond, and I demand excellence from myself in every category of my life.My expectations are even crazier than not having enough time to complete the basic requirements of all the titles I carry each day.
As crazy as it is at times, I thrive on juggling all my titles at once.
In this post I’ll tell you the keys to living a stress free life amongst the chaos of being over-committed.
Here’s the first key:
My titles do not define me! The first key to learning to manage my time was learning to chuck my ego out the window. Have I accomplished a lot of things to carry some of these titles? Sure I have. But at the end of the day, any one of them can be taken away from me. And they have. If any of these titles define me, what happens when they are taken away is an identity crisis. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Knowing who I am in Christ is eternal and untouched by mortal problems. Without the stress of identity crisis, I am free to live the life I want, at the pace I want.
The second key is:
Create a pace of life that you can reasonably sustain. Once upon a time I was an awful mother. I admit it. When I was working full-time with 2 kids at home, activities to get to, and a marriage that was failing, my anxiety was at an all time high. Anxious mommy equals angry mommy. Angry mommy equals rushing the kids at a frantic pace in and out-of-doors, multiple times each day. If there’s anything I learned as a parent, it’s that kids naturally turn to sloths and turtles when rushed. Add some pressure to that (from angry Mommy) and it’s like asking a drunk sloth to perform a circus act.
You get the picture. Here’s what I did to change it. I quit working full-time! At the end of the day, I knew my time with my kids was limited. I went to God in prayer, had good advising from wiser, older folks, and talked with my husband about it. Turns out, we could manage just fine without the money. Compromises had to be made and we gave up some luxuries but here’s what happened. Mean Mommy disappeared. Calm, collected, rested mom appeared. Naturally, our marriage improved, and so did my relationships with my kids. I’ve learned that like it or not, momma sets the tone for the mood of the house. Now that this momma created a life she could sustain, the universe came to order.
The third key (and the most important):
Prioritize your mental, physical, and spiritual health.
Mental health is my gift. Does that mean I have it together? Absolutely not. That’s what makes me good at reaching the lost, broken, and hurting. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way though that through time, have taken stress off juggling the titles I carry each day.
- First, take mommy time outs. This doesn’t mean down a glass of wine like the basic peeps all over the internet do. There are times I literally lock my door and kick everyone out for 10 minutes. My kids are old enough to where they won’t hurt themselves. When they were younger they would be put in a safe place. 10 minutes y’all. That is all you need to get it together on those days you find yourself being mean mommy because the pressure is too much.
- Secret: I cry in my closet. All. The. Time. It’s my safe place. A place where I can lose my shit for a few minutes and not be bothered by anything in the world….Except those clothes that need to be hung up.
- If you have a mental illness, make treating that a priority in you life. If you don’t, everything else will crumble to pieces. I mean it. I see it all the time in my line of work and I’ve experienced it in my own life. Go to the counselor. Take your meds. Stay in recovery mode.
Physical health hasn’t been my gifting or calling. It wasn’t until January of this year that I finally committed myself to prioritizing my physical health. I have been thin my whole life so I skirted by without prioritizing these my entire life. What happened was I found myself with some new health conditions that compromised my immune system, my reproductive system, and my digestive system. I was absolutely miserable. Something had to be done. For more on that check out The Twelve Steps of Nutrition and Exercise Recovery
- Find a program/regimen that works for you. I found a program that works for me. It involves daily accountability, daily workouts, and nutrition/meal planning. Does it take time from my daily titles? Of course. Is it worth it? Absolutely. Email me if you’re interested in knowing what program I do, I’ll be glad to coach you through it!
- If your physical health isn’t prioritized, your mental health may be compromised in the form of stress and anxiety or possibly depression. Then your life falls apart. See the pattern here? Want to learn to love your body? Check out Fall In Love With Your Body…For Good!
- Proper nutrition and exercise change your brain chemistry, thus leaving you with less stress, which allows you to perform your life titles better. It’s true. It changes the dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins in your brain. For more on that check out Recovery and Fitness: 5 Reasons They Go Hand in Hand.
Finally, prioritizing spiritual health will decrease stress in your life too. We are spiritual beings. Regardless of your religious or spiritual belief system, you have to believe we are spiritual beings to do good things on this earth. Yeah, that’s a strong statement, but I believe it to be true. Without a spiritual connection we are merely going through the motions of life, as robots. We were born with a soul for a reason!
- Karl Marx stated that religion is the opiate to the masses of people. If so, what is it hurting? So long as it’s not condemning and judgmental and harsh, religion can be a beautiful tool for life with less stress. I know once I became a believer, my spirit changed, and thus changed those around me. I may not be the most religious person in the world, but I can tell you about spirituality and that stems from religion, like it or not.
- Spiritual people take time to enjoy life moments.
- Spiritual people are gracious and compassionate, with themselves, and others.
So, I’ve shared with you three keys to living a less stressed life with many titles. Even if you only carry one title, it can be overwhelming at times. It’s not about the quantity, but the quality. Just. Like. Life.