There’s no denying that modern life is incredibly complex and busy. Technology that was meant to make life easier has instead made us feel that we should be able to do more than ever before.
All of that pressure to constantly perform can push all thoughts of self-care out of our heads. But without enough downtime, we become less able to work efficiently. That leads to a spiral of desperation because as we bog down in overwhelm, more stuff is piling up behind us.
It is understandable to feel as though there is nothing to be done, or that downshifting to a more reasonable rate of production is impossible. But we are here to assure you that it might actually be easier than you think. Follow the steps below to get yourself back to a balanced lifestyle.
Evaluate your priorities
Sure, there are non-negotiables in your life. You don’t want to lose your job, kids demand your care, and your relationships need to be nurtured. But it would be insane to think that each of those things could get 100% from you.
So dig down to the bedrock of what’s really important in each category.
Career: Could you arrange to reduce your hours or work from home some days to regain your commute time? Are there projects that could be reasonably delegated? If you are truly in a position where there is no wiggle room in your career, perhaps it is time to change it.
Family: You certainly want the best for your kids, but they need downtime, too. Consider scaling back on their extracurricular activities. It’s also okay to limit them to one sleepover a month at your home or reduce the number of playdates you are responsible for supervising. And, honestly, it won’t kill them to watch too much television or eat frozen pizza for dinner once in a while if it buys you a little respite.
Relationships: Spending time with friends, partners, and family members should be restorative, so if it’s not, think about why. It could be that you need to invest a bit more time in the relationship, or it could be that it is toxic at its root. If some soul searching leads you to the latter conclusion, give yourself permission to get out of it. You can’t change your family, but you don’t have to go to dinner if it’s just going to make you miserable.
Draw some boundaries
Recognizing issues is one thing, but actually drawing the boundaries to support your downshifted life is another. It can be challenging. But the worst thing you can do is to harbor guilt about it. You are trying to reduce the anxiety in your life.
So take a deep breath and have the difficult conversations you need to have to clear some space for yourself. Avoid blaming anyone for putting you in your overburdened situation and most people will understand. They may even envy your courage.
However, some people will try to push your boundaries. Politely respond to one or even two further attempts to claim your time and then just stop. It’s the only way they’ll get the message that you simply aren’t available.
Use your time well
Now that you have cleared some space for yourself, use that time to design a better way of life. For starters, make your personal time non-negotiable. You need that in order to function properly the rest of the time.
With a little breathing room in your schedule, you will likely find ways to downshift even further. For example:
• Teach your children how to do chores like laundry, cooking basic meals, and yard work.
• Multi-task family time, pet care, and fitness by going on regular walks with the dog together.
• Make some extra money selling the books, clothes, and electronics that no one uses anymore.
• Clearing out clutter is a fantastic way to downshift all by itself, so don’t hesitate to just donate or pitch that stuff if you don’t have it in you to hold a yard sale.
• Challenge yourself (and your family) to reduce the number of hours spent consuming digital media.
• Look for line items that can be removed from the family budget and save that money toward a fulfilling experience instead of a thing.
• Reorganize rooms in your home to work better for you; even just moving the furniture or rotating the art every so often can provide a fresh outlook on life.
The tips above are just a start. Downshifting looks different for everybody. And don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it all at once; in fact, you will be more successful if you take the steps one at a time. The most important part is to clear the space in your life to even consider how it could be better. Now get some rest!