What To Do When There’s Too Much To Do

The holiday season is stressful. Even those who don’t celebrate are forced to stand in those long checkout lines for a measly carton of milk. “I’m sorry ma’am, self checkout is closed!”

And although Amazon has made it easier than ever to avoid other human beings, there are plenty of other things to lose your mind over.

Like…cooking food, cleaning the house, wrapping gifts, going shopping.

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days and trying to come up with a stress free way to get things done when there’s just too much to do. Some ideas that came to mind were: cutting out what isn’t critical, creating to-do lists, focusing on one task at a time and not worrying about results.

But I mean, who really wants another list? We’ve seen enough of those. The real issue is that we haven’t gotten to the bottom of what causes stress in the first place. We don’t need more ways to manage it, we need to know how to shrink it.

And theres only one way to do that. Stop creating it.

That doesn’t mean we should quit shopping and log on to Netflix. It means that we should stop doing what is stressing us out. The internal stuff, not the external stuff.

Let me give you an example.

I stopped by Whole Foods for a bottle of tea and a chocolate bar. It’s down the street from where I work, so I figured I would be in and out. WRONG.

They only had a few cashiers and apparently everyone shops on their lunch break. My mind started racing – Why did I come here on my lunch hour? Why are there so many people? Where are all the damn cashiers? Why is this man buying so many green beans!? Who could possibly need that many green beans? 

Now that’s stressful. Not the people in line, not the cashiers, not the green beans. It was the thinking. It was my opinion about what was going on.

All that mental pinball pushed me over the edge. But what’s wonderful is that it’s optional, we don’t have to live that way. We can’t necessarily control our environment, but we can control the way we think about it.

One thing I noticed when I first started meditating was that I thought stressing out was normal, but my body felt off. I asked a teacher about it when I was on retreat and he said “What makes you think that’s normal? How does it feel?”. I knew what he was getting at.

Sometimes this is just the way things are. We overthink, we stress out and we beat ourselves up. But that doesn’t mean it’s the way things have to stay. Stress feels like were rubbing sandpaper on our insides. It’s bad news.

Pay attention to how you’re feeling. Your body is a great teacher. And if you really want to get to know it well, try meditating. Like everyday, for the rest of your life. It’ll build up your awareness and your willingness to notice what’s here.

No drugs or alcohol or any of those other fancy concoctions are necessary. If you can learn to be at peace with whatever is here, right now, it’ll change your entire life.

I’ll bet 10 bucks on it.

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