relaxation mode

Tricky brain and grass time

Ok, it's been four days and I've been listening closely to what kinds of little bon mots my brain tosses out there while I'm trying to get things done, stick to my plan and do my work.  If you're just arriving at this post without the background, you might want to begin here: This is what I've been hearing.  Prepare yourself - it's not pretty:

"You know, there's too much to do.  Even if you worked all day, you'll never be done. And then you'll just be working all the time.  Yuck to that!"

"Being efficient is soul sucking.  It's only for boring people who don't have a rich inner life.  Too much neatness is sterile and the sign of an empty mind."

"It's too hard.  You don't have what it takes.  Give up."

"There are too many steps!  Aaaah!  We don't know what to do!"

"Oh, see - that didn't work.  You totally don't know anything about websites."

"Well- you missed doing your ten minute thing on the Fourth of July.  You'll never catch up now. Might as well just avoid everything for another week."

"Wait until Wednesday. Wait until Thursday. Wait until tomorrow. Wait until after lunch. Wait until tonight. Wait until Monday."

"Oh my god.  Look at that list of things you want to write/change/create/tweak.  It's a mile long.  You'll never get all that done in time."

"It's too late. Too late, I tell you!"


Ah, yes.  My helpful mind!  Despite its cries, I got some stuff done.  I stuck with my ten minutes per day of working on my last little pile (I doubled up today since I didn't do it yesterday.  It's smaller.  My space is in order, overall.

But, there's stuff on the list that I was really planning to work on.  It's bigger stuff, with multiple steps, and I avoided it.  Here's why.  Everything I've done so far to help myself be more productive is rational and ought to work, but it doesn't completely, just like when people try to lose weight with very reasonable rational diets, and their bodies freak out on them.  My brain is in rebellion mode.  Sabotage mode.  It doesn't trust that I'm not going to become an all work, no play kind of girl.  It remembers how tired we used to be when I was working all the time. It's panicked.  It's resisting any form of discipline.  And my body's not helping much either.  It just wants to sleep.  A lot.  Whether I go to bed early or late.

If my brain and body feel deprived by my time management and task organization "plan", they're going to fight me.  I need a new tool.  As Martha Beck says, I just need to get my brain and body to "join up" with me, much like a horse will follow the lead mare in its herd. And that won't happen when we're in "famine" mode, and all my brain sees are rules about how we're going to spend our time and what we "can't" do, making my body anxious, fidgety and just plain tired.

Because when I'm not relaxed about how my day's going to go, when I'm gritting my teeth or dreading what I've put on my to do list, I'm not particularly productive.  Sure, I can force it and just work anyway, but I'll pay later with that sense from my body and mind that I'm not to be trusted, that this isn't going well, and next time we might as well just go to sleep.

So, how do I get relaxed and get my body and mind to trust that all will be well - that we don't need to go into avoidance napping mode?  By giving them what they want- a safe place to not have to do anything.  I call it "grass time". Ten minutes of quiet out in the grass, with the cats if they happen to be around.  And a couple of mantras - these borrowed or adapted from from Martha Beck's Four Day Win:

"Everything is OK." "I don't have do do anything at all for the next ten minutes." "In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter what I get done today.  It's much more important to be kind than to check things off the to do list.  I'll start by being kind to myself." "If I never changed anything at all about how I get things done, the world would keep revolving." "It's OK to rest."

I'm looking for a relaxation response - a sense from my body and mind that all is well, with easy breathing, relaxed muscles, and a general sense of wellness and peace. Nearby cats always help!

And then, with that peaceful state of mind, I can get to work.

Give it a try and see if ten minutes of really doing nothing gives your body and mind a little more reason to trust you, and a little more interest in happily going about your day with you.