Laura was overwhelmed. Every morning she woke with a sense of panic and exhaustion before the day had even begun. Her to do list was impossibly long and she just didn’t know where to start. This led to indecision, procrastination and failure to move forward in any way in her life. She was accomplishing the main tasks that she felt she needs to achieve to keep control of her life, just. But she felt she was teetering on the edge of chaos. She also fell that other people would be angry with her if she let go of any of the tasks she was currently responsible for. She asked me to help her get unstuck.
I suggested to Laura that she take a different perspective on her life. After all, who said that her self worth should be measured by the things she ticked off her to do list. Who told her that taking time out to look after her health and well-being was selfish. Who said that failing to stay at work late made her a bad employee. When you think about it these are kind of crazy assumptions and they are assumptions that benefit employers, big businesses and politicians rather than helping people to create meaningful lives.
It was time for Laura to think about what her true priorities in life were and begin to make a little time each day for these things.
I asked her to list the things in her life that were important to her and which she wanted to improve. This is what she told me:
- My health is not what it could be. My constant exhaustion is not helped by the fact that I eat on the run and give in to caffeine and sugar cravings because I am so tired and hungry
- My home is not the sanctuary I want it to be. It is cluttered, and in desperate need of redecoration, reorganisation, beauty and colour
- My relationships are being neglected because I am too busy and tired to give them the attention they deserve
- I have always wanted to be a photographer and studied photography at college. But I can never find the time to do the photography work I long to do.
I told her that we could address all of this issues, but in order to achieve change she needed to start with teeny weeny steps, the smallest steps she could think of, steps she couldn’t fail to achieve, and as she wouldn’t fail, she wouldn’t add the burden of guilt and self criticism to her already overwhelming life
Laura agreed when I suggested that her health was the most important aspect of her life because failing to take care of her physical and mental wellbeing would eventually result in her being unable to achieve her ambitions and to support those who were dependent on her. Laura had tried to implement a healthier regime but had always failed to keep it up once things got busy and unexpected items cropped up in her life. When she got stressed she reached for the coffee pot or the biscuit tin and her plans went out of the window. I suggested that instead of thinking of the bad things she should cut out of her diet, Laura focused on the good things she could increase. I also recommended that she scale down her expectations and choose one simple things he could do each day that would improve her health and well being.
‘What’s the smallest, most easily doable thing you can think of?’ I asked.
‘Eating a healthy dinner,’ she said,
‘Smaller,’ I said.
‘Having soup for lunch?’
‘Drinking more water?’
‘Bingo!’ I said. ‘That can be your first teeny weeny step towards better health.’
Drinking more water would help Laura with her energy levels and improve her digestion and overall health. That’s not to say that she shouldn’t eat healthily when she can, but with this goal, even when the unexpected crops up and she gets stressed and drinks coffee or eats a bar of chocolate she can still drink her water and feel good knowing she is doing something to improve her health.
Find out how Laura improved her home and relationships in teeny weeny steps next time.