17 January 2020 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
I never feel like I have enough time for everything. I work full time, have a freelance job on the side, have two kids, in the church choir, teach kindergarten Sabbath School, and I’m in a book club. And I always feel like I’m letting someone down! Half the time I’m too tired to read my book club book, I’m creating the Sabbath School lesson in the car on the way to church, I’m cooking macaroni for dinner, or I’m running late to work! I feel so overwhelmed and frustrated. But I can’t figure out how to manage everything in my life. What can I do? Help!
I could talk to you about how to manage your time better. I could tell you to get an organizer and make lists and schedule your tasks. But you can find that advice anywhere. And, to be honest, I don’t think that’s the solution you need.
Aunt Sevvy believes your problem is your expectations of yourself. You’re trying to do too much. Our culture has been taught that if we aren’t being productive at every moment, that equals “lazy.” But it isn’t true. We are a culture of burned-out people running around doing tasks that should be enjoyable but instead are only stress-inducing.
It can be a useful exercise to think of our lives like we think of our smartphone battery. Because we use the phone so much, we monitor the battery and make sure we have the ability to charge it so the phone doesn’t let us down when we need it. Our emotional health works the same way, only we are notoriously bad at monitoring that battery.
Keeping a close eye on stress levels is a good daily practice and can prevent burnout like you are experiencing. If your phone battery is running down, you remove some apps and shut the phone down now and then, and you also plug it in more often. So with your health.
Three things: cut corners, opt out, and say no. While eating a balanced diet is important, it won’t hurt to eat boxed macaroni once in a while when you’re in a pinch. Too many duties? Look at your life and see what you can let go of. You actually can take a few months off from your book club or the church choir, or let someone else teach the Sabbath School. Learning to say no can be a difficult practice for those of us who have been taught not to let people down, but it can be powerful for our emotional health.
The Bible calls this “stewardship” when it has to do with money, “temperance” when it has to do with other indulgences. Well, you need to be a good steward of your mental and physical energy, too, and that means being temperate in what you take on.
I wish you less!
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—always without identities. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and neither her opinions nor those of her correspondents are necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.