A Recovering Perfectionist’s Plan for Staying Sane
This was meant to be a Monday Mayday blog, but the sun came out and so I abandoned desk-bound jobs and adapted the priorities of my to-do list to suit my mood and the weather.
As a Recovering Perfectionist, one of the most important gifts I gave myself was that one; to become less rigid, become more adaptable, and as a result, become better at enjoying each day for what it is, not for what I think it ‘should’ be.
If you are anything like me, the Lock-down Lo-down last week gave me equal measures of hopeful and haphazard emotions. On one hand we have a plan! An end is in sight. On the other hand, that end is still a while away, which means I’ve still got two months of balancing homeschooling and working, never mind a further two months of managing mostly grounded school holidays and work. I’m going to have to become so flexible, I’ll be walking on my hands (thank fuck I’ve found Yoga With Adrienne!)
Like everyone, I’ve had good days and bad days… often in the space of an hour (time has just distorted to such a degree I feel otherworldly most of the time). When ‘bad day’ moments like that happen, it’s really helpful to focus on what’s important, what’s in your control and what’s for dinner. (Ok, I made the last one up. I just know it helps me, in these days of endless food-focus).
So I thought I’d share my top 5 tips for staying safe and sane in these endless (and dare I say, often beautiful in that endlessness) days.
- Focus on what you can get out of today
It’s easy to get carried away with thoughts and feelings pertaining to a future we have little control over; but today is the only real space you have any power over. Give it your all. That ‘all’ includes pushing yourself, holding yourself, experiencing the satisfaction of achieving something on your to-do list, experiencing the relief of letting go of something on your to-do list until tomorrow, connecting with others and yourself. The most important thing to do on any day is be in it.
2. Find your compass points for each day
I decided that it was easy to prioritise my day around my to-do list, but far more beneficial to prioritise my to-do lists around the kind of day i wanted to have. I worked out what were the 5 points of the compass I need to achieve every day to feel grounded. These are:
Yours might be different, but try and decide what would be the components of a successful day for you. I make time every single day for each of these things otherwise my compass goes off bearing and I start to feel lost.
3. Stay in control (of what you can control).
Which is very little actually. You can’t control other people’s behaviours or thoughts. You can’t control external events. You can’t control the weather. Really all we have that we can truly control are our responses, our behaviour, our actions and where we invest our mental, physical, and emotional energy. Yet we often focus a lot of energy on trying to change things and people we can’t. There is a little technique I’ve talked about before called CIA; always ask – what can I Control, what can I Influence, and what do I have to Accept? The faster you Accept the reality (Not the frustrating land of ‘if only…. ‘) the faster you get back to a place of power.
4. Learn to listen
To yourself. This is one of the most important things you can do as part of a commitment to really making the best of your life (by taking the best care of yourself). Stop constantly telling yourself what you need to do, and start listening to what you need. They are often vastly different things.
5. Appreciate what we can
Gratitude isn’t just a flowery meme on a t-shirt. It’s a scientifically proven action that when practised (even, and perhaps especially) in challenging or confusing times can improve our mental, emotional, and physical health. Times are obviously tough and uncertain right now, but within that context, there is also lots of things to be grateful for. For me, that’s my garden, this time with my teenage kids, time to think and re-evaluate, Gin. The other night, my girls and I climbed out through Poppy’s window and sat on the extension roof (almost flat, honestly no need to call social services), wrapped in blankets looking at the stars and chatting till 1am. That probably wouldn’t have happened in the hurly burly of normal life. Despite being busy with work and parenting, this Great Pause has created a space in my life that I realise I want to hold on to.