Last week while I was organizing our closets in an effort to make a little extra room for baby items, I was struck very suddenly by an overwhelming, full-body exhaustion. I felt that if I didn’t immediately stop what I was doing to take a short nap, I would surely pass out right where I stood and fall into the kind of deep, comatose sleep usually reserved for Disney princesses and fairytale characters. I only needed about 20 minutes of rest to feel like myself again, but the whole experience left me a bit unsettled. The following day, I was out walking the dog when I was hit by a wave of dizziness that nearly knocked me off my feet. Everything around me started to blur and spin, and I had to stop and prop myself against a tree for a few minutes because I was genuinely worried that I was going to faint. Once I was sure I could move safely, we slowly made our way back home and eating a little food helped the feeling pass for the most part, but I felt uncomfortable and off for the rest of the day.
I have been moving at top speed for a couple of months now. I am trying to fit in as many massage appointments as I can physically stand while I can still physically stand. I have doctors appointments and birth classes filling up my otherwise free hours. There’s so much to organize and clean, and prepare for. That nesting instinct that everyone talks about is strong in me, and I feel an insatiable urge to get as much done as quickly as possible, while fully acknowledging that being woefully unprepared for a baby’s arrival is pretty much inevitable. I feel like I am forgetting things, so I’m constantly double checking all of my work, being sure I actually did reply to that email I meant to respond to, or that I went through with ordering a Christmas gift rather than just thinking about ordering it. Add holiday preparations to the top of the pile of all the other stuff I have going on, and well, it starts to make a bit more sense that I suddenly found myself running head-on into a wall of exhaustion.
I need to slow down a bit. Not only for my own health and sanity, but as practice for the months and years to come. In two months, there’s going to be a baby in my house and I know that while my husband and I may struggle to get through those early weeks and months, we’ll also want to savor them, to be more fully present for both each other and the tiny human that will rely on us for its most basic survival.
I am not the only one that needs to pump the brakes this time of year. So many of my clients are coming in complaining of high stress and lack of sleep. Everyone is trying to push through and finish off just a couple more tasks, or a few more assignments before they get a break for the holidays. There are things that need to be wrapped up by the end of the year. There are upcoming cross-country flights that they haven’t packed for yet. There are gifts to be purchased. Appointments to squeeze in. Activities and responsibilities that were designated as specifically 2016 concerns, and only a week left to tackle them. Everyone seems to be telling themselves the same things I keep repeating to myself: just make it through this week and then you can relax. Just finish off these one or two things, plus those two or three over there, and you can start the new year with nothing on your plate and all the free time in the world.
It’s time to take a step back and realize that not everything needs to be accomplished, at least not right at this moment. When you really evaluate your life, you’re likely to find that only a few things have very specific due dates, and that we tend to create a false sense of urgency for everything else. Take a moment to prioritize the items on your to-do list. Pick a few that really must get done by a certain date or time, and put your energy into those. Write the rest down so that you don’t forget about them permanently, and then put the list away and try to release those items from your mind. You’ll get to them in time. If they don’t require immediate action, they don’t need to be draining your mental and emotional energy right now.
Yesterday, I went over to a friend’s house and spent an hour and a half holding her three-week-old baby. As I drove home afterward, I realized that it was the first time in months that I’ve sat down for that length of time and done nothing without my mind churning and worrying about all the things I should have been doing instead. It was so relaxing just to sit there with this tiny bundle of a boy sleeping in my arms and know that the only thing I needed to do in that moment was be still and let that baby sleep.
As the year winds down and we dive deep into the holidays over the next week, give yourself the gift of stillness. Take a little time to pull back from all of your responsibilities and concerns, and just fully relax in a moment of quiet or leisure. It’s time to let this year go, and rest up for the next one.