Slow Down - Prep Essentials

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College & Post-Grad

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Slow Down

I've mentioned it countless times over the last month and a half, but wow have things been busy around here. Counting it out, I realized that I haven't been in Chicago (or without a pack of visitors staying with me) since mid-July. 

How I haven't collapsed and fallen over yet is honestly starting to amaze me...but somehow I am still powering through, and I'm going to have to, because the next time I don't have any major travel plans isn't until October 15th. 

I wouldn't trade my busy lifestyle for anything, because it means I have been filling my time with friends, adventures, time spent with Dalton, family, and everything in between...That being said, Monday after work I essentially starting to cry when my bag of groceries broke through the bottom of the bag. Yep, not kidding. (Keep in mind, I am not the crying type. Not even a little bit).


After throwing a mini-tantrum to myself, trudging back to Trader Joe's and replacing the groceries, and a fairly cranky bus trip back to my apartment, I realized that I was feeling extremely overwhelmed. I've been so busy filling my time with constant activities and travel, I haven't taken a single night completely to myself in almost two full months!

Have you ever had one of those moments where you finally pause, take a deep breath, and realize you're incredibly overwhelmed and exhausted? Today was mine, and let me tell you - it startled me. Sometimes I think we all forget how taking time to relax and enjoy ourselves in some peace and quiet alone is just as important (if not more) than making time for everything else we have going on. 

If anyone else has ever experienced this feeling (or is even feeling it right now), I wrote down a few of my favorite ways to unwind, take a breath and slow things down. So take a deep breath, cozy up somewhere and try them out for yourself! If you're worried you don't have time for any of these steps, you could also try a few things off of my fast-list for taking care of yourself when you're pressed for time!

1. Curling Up With a Book. Even if you aren't a big reader, I highly recommend this step above anything else. If books aren't your thing, find some distracting articles, or a magazine that can get your mind off of things. I love to lose my thoughts in a book - it instantly takes away all of my stress and puts my head in a different world. If you are a reader like me, check out this book list and this one too for new recommendations! PS - you can also find all of my posts with book recommendations under the lifestyle - books tab at the top of this page!

2. Taking Care of Your Body, First. Sometimes, when things feel to overwhelming to forget about or even process (particularly if you're extra stressed about something in particular), just the thought of working things out mentally can make the stress worse. Whenever this happens for me, I start by doing something for my body first! Whether this means a shower or bath, painting your nails, putting on something extra comfy and stretching, or heading out to a workout class - whatever works for you to make you feel well taken-care of is a great place to start. 

3. Pick One Problem, and Only Tackle That One. If there are multiple balls that I'm juggling at once, I get so anxious about ignoring even one of them that I end up delaying handling anything I'm focused on. It can be hard to know where to start - so pick one thing that isn't your biggest problem you're facing, sit down, and make a plan. Is there a list of steps you need to take to get it taken care of, or perhaps some emails that need to be sent to get a plan in motion? Is there a conversation you've been putting off that you need to finally face? Whatever it may be, just isolate one single problem, dedicate one hour to it, and you'll walk away feeling dramatically less overwhelmed.

4. Write Everything Down. My best advice I always gave my friends in college when they would feel like there was too much to do and not enough time to handle it all was to sit down, and write everything on a sheet of paper. (This was usually met with protests that they didn't have enough time for that activity, but after persuasion they always admitted it helped them gain perspective!) Write every single thing you're juggling down on a sheet of paper, and break it into categories. You can sort it by priority, deadline, or even just the days of this week. Then you will be able to visualize where you have time to squeeze each thing in, de-prioritize things that aren't essential, and it will really help you gain that birds-eye-view perspective that is needed to dial the overwhelmed feelings down!

5. Put Yourself First. You can't tackle anything on your to-do list, manage your daily activities, or even really function as your true self if you don't make yourself the most important thing. (Take it from me, who apparently cries over groceries these days when I don't spend enough time on myself, haha!) Sometimes you have to say no to the things you can't handle, even if your only reason for saying "no" is that you need to spend a day catching up with yourself and your own problems. You shouldn't be saying "yes" to events, chores, or activities that you won't be able to be your full, best, and true self, anyway! So it's really okay to tell that friend you need to get dinner another time, or that you're too busy to help her analyze her new boy's weird texting language. No one will fault you for taking care of yourself!

What's your favorite way to unwind and take care of yourself when things have been particularly busy? I'm heading off to bed now to try and catch up on some much needed zzz's...

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