On the way to my parents’ house is a section of interstate that is busy. Crazy busy. Not the kind of busy like in a large city during rush hour when traffic is slowed sometimes to a stop. It’s the kind of busy that packs as many cars onto the lanes and then they move at the top possible speed. It resembles a road race rather than a too-full interstate. The last time I drove that 20-mile stretch of road I felt like I was being swept along with the current of a white water river instead of driving on a highway where I could actually control my own speed. Technically, I COULD lower my speed, but that seemed more dangerous than going with the flow.
So I went with the flow. I can do that for 20 miles, but I can’t keep that up for long. If I tried to travel that pace on a road for a few hours, I would need a break – exit the highway, stop and regroup.
I see several similarities between that stretch of interstate and life.
My preferred life speed is slower than what sometimes happens. I LOVE being home. I LOVE having time to read, cook, think about something or think about nothing. I LOVE having time to write, even if I don’t take the opportunity to do it.
My preferred speed is different than the one I see in many people around me. I marvel at the stamina many of my friends display, and the things they accomplish in a given day, week, month or year. And just like on the stretch of highway between me and my parents’ house, I sometimes try to keep up, being swept along with the current of busyness and productivity.
It seems some people around me can keep up that pace indefinitely.
I cannot. I need a break.
And that’s where I find myself right now. Looking at my calendar I see exciting things coming up. A conference for work, a trip with all our parents to Denver, a chance to see family in Wisconsin, a concert and our alma mater’s homecoming.
All in the next four weeks.
All after traveling twice in the last two weeks.
While everything we have planned is fun and eagerly anticipated, my old nemesis, Anxiety, sees this opportunity and creeps into my soul.
I start to think I cannot possibly get everything done. And since some things DEMAND my time like work, laundry, eating and sleeping, I look for things I can remove from my schedule. Reading, exercise and writing are usually the first three things to go. But those are the worst for me to eliminate. They are the *tasks* that most help me keep the anxiety in check.
This week I’m experimenting. With anxiety rising within me, I’m setting reading, exercise and writing as priorities for each day. And I’m guarding them, not allowing anything to push them off my to-do list.
It’s kind of like a science fair project. My hypothesis is “I will feel less anxious and calmer if I read, exercise and write every day for the next three days.” (I know – it’s a short experiment, but I leave Friday for a conference.) (I know, I know – I’m not really using a scientific approach – no control group, etc.)
But it’s an experiment none-the-less. I’ll report my findings this weekend.
In the meantime, how do you keep calm in the midst of a busy schedule? Are you wired for busyness, or do you have tips you use to keep you sane? Please, do tell.