Lean In without Burn Out: Three Strategies to Stay Sane
I am a wife, a mother, a public servant, a full-time employee, a volunteer, and a church member. I am supposed to eat healthy, exercise often, and have a healthy balance between all my responsibilities while keeping up with my female friendships and reading 12 books a year. That’s a lot.
Whether I like it or not, I leaned in a long time ago. I like (if not love) most of the things in that list of responsibilities, but there can be major exhaustion behind each of them if I am not careful. Today, I'm sharing a few ways I've learned to maintain the joy in the places and activities that make up my life.
I create systems.
This is automation, routine, habit, autopilot. Whatever you want to call it, it is my number one survival skill. My husband likes to mock me for the systems and rituals I set up, but without them, he would starve. He knows this deep down, so it’s all good natured.
I show love through acts of service. The biggest way I do that for my family is through food and in particular, packing lunches. My system is a uniform school lunch box that fits a single lunch tray (not a bento box, calm down) so I am not fooling with a million plastic baggies. On the weekend, I lay out 15 trays and fill them with the non-perishables. On weekdays, I grab three trays, add the sandwich/meat item, throw in an ice pack and they are out the door in about 15 minutes.
I cherish my quiet time.
Quiet time means two things for me: prayer and scripture or being alone with my thoughts. The former is paramount, but both are important.
After the husband and oldest son leave, I take my cup of coffee and sit down in my giant leather throne of a chair with my Bible, my journal, and my devotional if I’m using one at the time. I read and try to meditate on the voice of God. I pray.
Example: Nature in my Car
After I drop off the little one at school, I drive to a near by park and watch the river that runs through our city. It’s relaxing and beautiful.
This is extraordinarily difficult for me. I have struggled with insomnia most of my life, and there are lots of ways to fight it, but the crucial ingredients for me are a clear mind and a calm room.
Example: Brain Dump
I am a fan of the brain dump. I have a notebook I keep by the bed, and when there’s too much in my head, I write it all down as fast as I can. It’s not a memory wipe, but it’s super effective.
My sleep was disturbed this year by some rounds of sickness in my household, exacerbated by some extra loud snoring from my beloved. I was a wreck. Then I stumbled upon a set of sleep earbuds that changed everything for me – they block outside sound and pump in low levels of white noise - and now I am back to healthier routine.
That’s it: Systems, Quiet, and Sleep – my top three essentials for keeping a light grasp on sanity doing the things I’ve been called to do, the things I love.
What keeps you going?