Slow is a really hard word for me to practice. I like going, going, going — marking things off, and feeling my anxiety about the once un-did thing dissipate, just to be replaced by something else.
Moving cross-country is hard. Starting a new job is hard. These are both very involved processes, where there are a thousand deadlines, things to do, new skills to master. It’s very overwhelming and fast-moving. But I’m learning that there’s only so much I can do in one day — well.
I make better choices, I feel better, I write better, basically ALL the things better, when I consciously make each day manageable in terms of to do’s. There are people out there who can work on one project for 12+ hours a day and be fine. I am gradually learning (and accepting!) that I am not one of those people — as much as I wish I was. I have had so many people marvel at how fast I wrote my dissertation. And the funny thing is is that I wasn’t working on it all hours of every single day. I had a set writing time in the morning, and I worked diligently during that time — but no more. And that’s how I got it done. In the afternoon, I was able to do housework, cook, read for fun, spend time with my husband, pets, and friends, workout, and maintain a balance.
I hear all the time from people, “Oh, I wish I had time to read/cook/workout, etc.,” and it’s really hard for me not to roll my eyes. I firmly believe that we make time for the things that we enjoy, that we feel our necessary for our wellbeing. It’s all about prioritizing and finding one’s rhythm.
While my rhythm will certainly change this year as I am in a new place with new responsibilities, my goal is to not lose sight of maintaining a healthy balance, of moving slowly but with mindfulness and a self-awareness that didn’t really materialize for me until the last couple of years.
My mantra has become do less but with more attentiveness. To make my days fuller by focusing on just a few things. It’s backwards, and I kinda like it that way.
If you are type-A like me, and also have chronic anxiety/depression, I encourage you to lessen your control a bit and try to move from planning every hour of every single day to having a a few goals, spaced out over the course of a day. It’s been a tough transition for me, but well worth it. It has also helped me to refocus on what matters most: my spiritual health and my relationships over less worldly pursuits and ambitions.
If you have a story about mental illness—whether personal or concerning a loved one—please consider sharing your experience by writing a guest post, doing an interview with one of us, or joining the team as a regular contributor. Even if you aren’t at a place yet where you feel comfortable disclosing your name, the church body needs your voice. Let’s shine a light on the darkness, together.