Let’s Not Do All the Things

I delegate to avoid over stress and it starts with asking questions. When I was growing up there was a wonderful couple that our family befriended at church. They exercised Elizabeth Ann Seton’s philosophy, “To live simply so that others might simply live.” Taking this credo so much to heart that that they purchased some land in the Pennsylvania mountains and lived off of the land – no electricity, no running water. The Amish in the surrounding communities used to bring their children to visit the O’Hagan’s small farm to show them what “roughing it,” was like. And while this couple lived in a small cabin in the woods, that they had built with their own hands, they still found time to welcome friends and share their experiences with others. 

As a young woman I would write them letters with whatever challenge I was facing. I relied on them and their advice to guide me to the best choices. One challenge that I found particularly difficult was that of feeling overwhelmed. I felt conflicted and challenged by family obligations, work expectations, and school. I was working full time, earning my Master’s degree, and attempting to make my own path in a new city. Writing to Daniel and Marcia I asked, “How do I do all of these things all at once? What am I missing?” Their advice, like their lifestyle, was quite simple. There were three touchpoints to their guidance. 

  1. What things are necessary? 
  2. What things are necessary but can be done by someone else?
  3. What things are necessary but only you can do? 

These three simple questions not only helped put all of my to-do items into perspective. It also very quickly put them into order. Because that which is not necessary very quickly falls away. This immediately makes the scope of work smaller.

Second, that which you can delegate must be given away. We often don’t want to let go of control. We believe ourselves to be the best and only person for every job. However, if you can let someone else do it then you must. If only because you are unable to move forward if you are holding on to everyone else’s responsibilities. You are limiting yourself and the people in your life by not trusting them. Delegating allows others the opportunity to rise to the occasion. Let go of the things that other people can do so that you have the space, time, and energy to do the work that is necessary and only you are capable of doing.

And finally third, that which only you can do is on your list. After following steps one and two you’ll find this list is incredibly short. It’s surprising to consider only the things that you yourself are able to do. The things that rise to the top of the list are much more important than anything on lists one and two anyway. They are things like – love your family, show up for your friends birthday party, and have the difficult but necessary conversation with a loved one. 

These big tasks quickly fall to the bottom when we are bogged down by tasks that are not ours to handle. Once we let go of the unnecessary we suddenly have time for the things that really matter – our relationships, our selves, and life. Only I can live my life and only you can live yours. Let’s not do all the things. Instead let’s focus on what important things are ours to do and what we can forget or delegate

Proactive Healthcare

As we all grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic I think it’s important to address self-care when we are ill or in recovery. In years past it was always a rush to get back to a typical schedule, pushing ourselves and our bodies back into full activity and agendas. Now that we are all being forced to slow down, to choose to care for ourselves physically may be the key to our continued health or recovery should we become ill. The goal however it not to get back to regular activity but to determine how we wish to engage going forward. How will we tend to ourselves and help our minds and bodies to heal?

Food – One of my favorite pastimes is sharing a good meal with people I love. Friends, family and good food belong together in my mind. I also love how food bridges the gaps between cultures and gives us all something we can share. Flavors, recipes, and cooking techniques are wonderful common ground we all share no matter our background. It is also necessary for health. As you ease back into you regular routine and start adding your preferred foods back into your diet, choose foods that sustain and nourish your body. 

Body – Learn to honor your body’s needs. I am no longer one to push myself to accomplish the next goal or rush from one thing to another. There is no prize for pushing my body past its comfortable limits. I am realizing that for me to be my best self and operate at the level I wish to operate, I need to be well rested and comfortable. This includes making time to exercise and stretch – it feels good to get my body moving but also to let it rest when it is ready. I am being active without overextending myself beyond my body’s boundaries. Taking care of my physical self includes nurturing and noticing when my body is tired and needs more time to heal.

Sleep – Getting enough rest is always important – doctors recommend eight hours a night for most people. To learn more about the scientific impact of sleep less on your health check out this Ted Talk, Sleep is Your Super Power by Matt Walker. The most striking takeaway that stays with me, “The shorter your sleep, the shorter your life.”

Mental – Recovery from COVID, injury, or any illness requires mental investment. It is important to mentally prepare ourselves and create an environment for health and wellbeing. If we are hopeless, superstitious, or preemptively defeated we cannot face our challenges with the determination and grit they require. Mental endurance, recovery, and resolve are much like physical strength – we must train our muscles. This means visualizing ourselves well, remembering those that we are living and fighting for, and having hope that despite the challenges we face – illness like wellness is temporary. We are not going to be sick forever, though sometimes it does feel like it. We are going to get well and to do that we need to remember our mental health is part of our practice for healing. 

When we are worn down we are all more susceptible to illness and fatigue. The best way to combat illness and take care of ourselves is to practice everyday wellness so that if we should be confronted with an injury or ailment we are ready to face the challenge with grace, optimism, and strength. 

Preventative self-care may seem simple but as we’ve all been masked, socially distanced, and isolated for three years we can get tired of the routine and let our guard down. If you’re feeling worn out by the obligations of COVID and the proactive steps we’re all taking, just remember that you’ve made it this far and I’m proud of you. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Taking care of ourselves is our most important work, you’re important to the world, we need you well – keep up the great work!