A few weeks back I attended a restorative yoga class and for 2 hours (TWO HOURS!) I was relatively still. Alone with my thoughts, this could have been a really bad thing. But it wasn’t. I could have wanted to crawl out of my skin. But I didn’t. I could have been bored or annoyed or judgmental, but I found none of those feelings.
Instead, I relished the stillness, the quiet, the peace, the lack of chatter, the lack of screens, the lack of feeling like I should be doing something else.
I know the word literally is grossly overused - and improperly used, at that - but I LITERALLY left that class feeling like a new person. I felt lighter, calmer, more patient, kinder, gentler. I moved slower, I breathed deeper, I smiled more. On the ride home I thought to myself, Holy crap. This is what it feels like to NOT be stressed out.
You know how you never think about the comfort of your teeth until you get a toothache? You’re never like “wow! my teeth feel great!” until they don’t? I guess I didn’t realize how wound up I had been until I unwound myself.
All I wanted to do was figure out how to make that feeling stay. The feeling of not having to do anything else, or be anywhere else. During that class, it was like someone had given me permission to just do this one thing. That’s it. Just this ONE THING.
I’m a typical woman in that I’m a crazy multitasker. I’m never not doing 2 or more things at once. Which is to say, I’m never doing JUST ONE THING. I catch up with friends and family while I drive, I draft blogposts while I walk, I listen to podcasts while I weed the garden, I write emails and social media posts whileI breastfeed.
This layering on of tasks is pretty commonplace. People are generally more willing to add something in than remove something. As a nutritionist, I’m more likely to see clients drink coffee or take a supplement, than I am to see them say no to increased workload or over-scheduling. As a yoga teacher, I’m more likely to see students push themselves beyond their physical capabilities than I am to see them take breaks during class.
This layering on of tasks can become burdensome. I recently realized that all the “adding in” was causing quite a bit of unnecessary stress in my life. The constant multitasking leaves me feeling scattered and frayed throughout the day. Sometimes I feel so pulled in so many directions, that nothing gets done. Lots of things get started, lots of things are half-assed, but I rarely feel that surge of accomplishment that comes with a job well done. Less “YES! I just NAILED that!”, and more “Eh. That’ll do.”
Once I became aware of the internal chaos (read: stress) this was creating, I had to figure out a way to change it. As anyone that has done my Fueled+Fit program knows, stress is NO JOKE. It impacts our sleep, our energy, our health and even our weight (OMG).
I was realistic with myself. I didn’t dedicate every single Sunday moving forward to restorative yoga. I know that I probably won’t consistently carve out 2 summer weekend hours to attend a yoga workshop. Instead, I sought out small ways to recreate the experience EVERY SINGLE DAY. I decided to give myself my own permission to JUST DO ONE THING.
I’ll clarify by first explaining what I DON’T mean. I don’t mean I’m going to do one thing a day. That’s weird and impossible. I DO mean this: each day I’m going to pick one task and do JUST THAT TASK at that time. It’s my anti-multitask challenge.
I started with blueberry picking. I had to go out in the yard and gather blueberries, or else they would go to waste. My first inclination was to grab the Jambox speaker so I could listen to a podcast while I harvested. The ol’ two birds, one stone jobby. Then I said, nope. JUST ONE THING. So I picked the bloobs to the soundtrack of nature tunes. Just me, my task, my breath, my focus, some bird calls and some breeze. After about 45 minutes, not only did I feel accomplished (I had bounty to show for my time), I also felt rejuvenated and oddly calm.
The following day I attended a yoga class. And instead of planning my next teaching engagement while flowing through postures as per usual, I just flowed through the postures with no agenda. With a clear head. Which actually cleared some more space in my head.
The day after I went for a walk by the beach. Now this is not technically “just one thing” as I had the baby in the stroller, so I was to some extent multitasking, I’ll admit. But I didn’t bring my headphones on this walk. I didn’t bring my phone. No connection with friends, no entertainment through music, no learning through podcasts. But please don’t mistake me: I still connected, was entertained and learned quite a bit on this walk (arguably more so than had I had my technology with me). It all came from doing less, not more.
While most of my afternoons will continue to look like this:
I will still honor my commitment to do JUST ONE THING each day. Why? Because with these random acts of stillness - this whole doing less, not more thing - I feel less strained and more fulfilled. And I want more of THAT.
If you want to liberate yourself from feeling strung out and packed in, take my anti-multitask challenge. Try it for a day. Try it for a week. See how you feel.
Check out my Fueled+Fit program. It’s a nutrition program and SO much more. This program will give you the steps and the tools to start to unpack your stress and unwind yourself. You’ll also learn why this is SO necessary.