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You’re up at the alarm packing lunches, getting little feet into boots and gloves, and tracking down back packs and homework. There’s breakfasts and bus catching, or drop offs, and then your own morning readiness. You’re out the door, or onto the computer. You’re calling clients, drumming up business, or heading into projects.

You’re sleep deprived and changing diapers with no adult conversation. You’re getting on a plane to make a meeting, catching a cab to make a sale, running for the train to get there on time. You’re caring for Mom and Dad, and teenagers, and being Mom taxi and a supportive partner.

Is it any wonder that most of my clients report levels of exhaustion that are off the charts?

These days, we are running at a faster pace than ever. Our electronic conveniences make it easier for us to be in business, and to be available to others, and harder for us to be “off” at the end of the day. It seems we are always at the end of some kind of electronic tether.

Of course, we’ve heard many times that things like long hot baths, a glass of wine, and some time behind a door with a “Do Not Disturb” hanging on it can be rejuvenating, and I won’t argue that those things are lovely, and definitely have value.

However, I believe that much more is required.

Without a doubt, we adore our families and our children, and many of us are working careers that we enjoy. But there is a joy factor that many of us are missing in our lives, and that is what needs to be replaced in order to defeat stress.

The opposite of stress is not rest.

The opposite of stress is joy.
The cure for stress is joy.
The way to keep stress from consuming us, is joy.

So, how do we create joy in the midst of all of this going, and doing?

When my clients tell me that they are exhausted, I ask them what they love to do, or what they would love to do if they had time. Often, we have to peel away many layers beyond things that are really family, or home care related to find the true desires that lie beneath.

Common answers are:

Spend more time with family.
Have more time to tuck kids in at night.
More time for school volunteer work or field trips.
Travel with family.
More date nights with spouse.
More sleep.
More time to care for a house or garden.
And sometimes we get things like:
More exercise.
More time to eat right.

Can you see how these things are really extensions of all the ‘doing’ that got them stressed in the first place? Not that any of these are bad things to do, or bad desires, and especially with the final two, that they wouldn’t be beneficial, merely that while they might bring some joy, there’s still a piece missing.

What did you want to do, or be, or create before you became the wife, the mother, the business owner, the career crusher that you are now?

Do you desire to write a book? Have you always wanted to try water color painting? Do you adore beaded jewelry and you’d love to try creating some yourself? Have you always longed to build or refinish furniture? When you were growing up, did you wish you could take dance lessons? Mosaic? Drawing? Interior Design?

It may sound counter-intuitive to suggest to an overworked and exhausted woman that she take a class, or begin something like writing a book, but the truth is that much of our exhaustion comes from the fact that we give all of our best to others, our responsibilities and our careers, and reserve none for ourselves.

I know that for me, when I am too busy prioritizing the needs of my clients, taking care of their projects, and looking after my home and loved ones to spend any time on my own writing, collage work, mosaic or other creations, I become depleted and worn out.

When we hold a priority to do the things we love, the things that light us up, we nurture ourselves in a way that rejuvenates us like nothing else can!

Even an hour or two a week spent on that thing you’ve always wanted to do can have a significant affect on feelings of stress, overwork, and exhaustion.

We are all, at our essence, creative beings. This part of ourselves requires nur-turing, and expression, and when we do not gift that to ourselves, we suffer.

If you’re not sure what you’d like to create, take the leap to just try some things out! Grab a friend and go to a wine and acrylic painting event (these are popping up everywhere, there’s sure to be one near you), or take a one night class in ceramics or glass at a local arts studio.Take a dance class. Attend a lecture on art. Visit an open house for an interior design school.

Give yourself permission to try anything and be really lousy at it while you have fun. You’ll soon discover the things you enjoy the most, and you can spend more time truly honing your skills in those pursuits.

When you connect to that pursuit that you love, plan for it regularly in your schedule. Put your creative YOU time on your calendar, and honor it the way you would any other important meeting or event.

When you take time to create for you, your energies will expand, and you’ll have more of yourself to bring to all the loving things you do for others, your career, and your life.

cheri-taylorCheri L. R. Taylor is a writer, writing and creativity coach, and as one of the Women of Wonders hosts, hosts a weekly radio talk show, Creative Energy in YOU, on the www.A2Zen.fm radio network. She is available for coaching, public speaking, and workshops. Contact Cheri at info@CheriLRTaylor.com.