The Hidden Cause of Fatigue and Frazzled Thinking
Last year for Mother’s Day my son brought home an “interview” about me. His teacher asked him a list of questions and transcribed his responses, exactly.
When my son was asked, “What does your mother do?” He responded, “My mom can do only one thing at a time.”
We all had a good laugh reading that, especially since he must hear it from my mouth many times a day.
I believe the largest barrier to experiencing high-level well-being is our tendency to live fragmented lives.
When our body is one place and our mind is somewhere else. When our mind is in a thousand places at once. When we are sitting across from someone but miles away in our presence.
We are constantly pushed and pulled in a thousand directions all day — sometimes literally, and almost always figuratively, in the inner spaces of our minds.
What if we practiced moving through our days differently: tending to one thing at a time, and giving our focus to the task or person in front of us?
What if we made a firm commitment to remind ourselves over and over again that there is no emergency happening, there is no rush, and everything will get done exactly when it is supposed to?
I recently shared an inspirational quote with a class I taught and wanted to pass it on to my larger community as well.
“You know that the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest?”
“The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest,” I repeated
woodenly, as if I might exhaust myself completely before I reached
the end of the sentence. “What is it, then?”
“The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.”
-David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea
I’ve shared some strategies for helping your mind to focus better. But sometimes, it is important to dig down to the root issues before real changes can occur.
Let’s move toward whole-hearted, whole-minded, whole-person living. This is a one-day-at-a-time proposition, because of course, we really only have this day and this moment. So, if only for today…give it a shot and see what shifts.
Love this one! Thanks again for the encouragement. I definitely struggle with multi-tasking and over-thinking and over-planning. Have gone to bed many nights and regretted not being totally WITH my children when they were talking to me or we were at the park ect. I realize how precious our moments and time can be and need to be more present. Thanks for the reminder to remember what’s important at each moment and to just live moment by moment. Many blessings.
Becky! So agree…something as simple as remembering to look our kids in the eyes when we talk to them can bring us right back to the here and now….beautiful.
Lisa… I loved this article. Very appropriate for me right now. And I shared it with my women’s group since many of us are working on the same thing… Better focus on well being. Thank you!
So good to hear it hit home, Jane…and love that you are in a women’s group keeping each other encouraged toward living your best life- how amazing!
Lisa- I enjoyed the post. In today’s society we are considered a superhero if we master the “fine art” of multi-tasking. This is just not true, at least not for me. I end up with a bunch of half-started tasks or junky end products. Cheers to single-tasking!! Believe me I’m a work in progress in this area!!!
So true! Society defined Super Moms are pretty hard to live up to…time for us all to do our own self defined definitions and begin living from our own inner compass!!
Thanks for a great post Lisa. I think this lies at the bottom of many problems we face today…it’s as though we are waiting for someone to give us permission to slow down…but the only person who will give you that permission is yourself. And I’m gonna start TODAY! X
Hi Maudie- I agree! So good to hear you are starting today! Nice 🙂
Love this post but hungry for more detail on it. I do feel very fragmented and my day does feel like that … lots of half done things. I am reading a wonderful book called, “How can I make a difference if I cant find my keys” by Marilyn Paul and it talks about how multitasking does not serve anyone. Finding more time to connect with my kids is so important to me as I find the disconnect or busyness is the cause for so much of their difficult behaviour. TODAY I told myself before my kids to go to be I will be “wholely” with them. It was so nice and they seemed so relaxed too. Also making time for my hubby and just relaxing with him in the evenings had kind of stopped while I was searching for the next perfect thing to improve myself. I am good enough. Also loved the Tedtalk video by Brene Brown and sent it to all my friends and my daughters teacher who really liked it. I used to think thriving not just surviving. But lately focusing on wholeheartedy thriving feels more complete for me and something I am working on!!!. I have recently since reading some of your older blogs decided that each night before I go to bed I will SMILE and think of all that I am grateful for. And when I wake in the middle of the night I will do the same and it really helps me fall back asleep more easily. Thanks for sharing as you do and bringing so much love and light into so many lives.
Oh Shalini, I love hearing you are hungry for more detail! I’d love to go deeper here because it is such a critical issue I think modern women are facing across the board that impacts our wellbeing so directly.
Love your feedback – so grateful you are part of this community!
I was reminded, yet again, these past few weeks that I am not cut out to be Super Mom. I know immediately when I’ve spread myself too thin: I get crazy (manic), short tempered, my voice gets louder, and I stop laughing and smiling. My husband has reminded me of this (for the past 15 years!) and is always telling me that I’m spreading myself too thin (particularly during the last few weeks of school).
I am working on saying no and “blocking out” things that: 1) do not concern me or my immediate family and 2) I cannot control. I take turns blocking out these things; nothing is forever (after all, what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t lend a sympathetic ear every now and then?) I am still working on this (and trying to get over the perceived notion that I’m letting someone down). However, I can say that learning to not take on so much has made me a much happier wife, mother, and person.
Iva- Beautiful! And love your commitment to keeping it all in perspective- So easy to let our pursuit of health get in the way of feeling healthy sometimes by being too dogmatic. But when we are living from our center space than we have the flexibility to shift around depending on what is most important in the moment.
This hits home. I was just talking to my doctor recently about the fatigue I feel on a consistent basis. He recommended sleeping pills, but I declined. I’m much more interested in making positive life changes rather than taking meds. I try to focus on one task at a time, but it’s so hard. I’ll keep trying – one task at a time!
Lauren- So good to hear your thoughts- so much we can do proactively to support healthy and restorative sleep- and yes, one task, one day at a time 🙂
This resonates with me completely. I have known this about myself for many years now, that I am a single-tasker. I first encountered this concept of single mindedness in Benedictine spirituality over six years ago. It was like water to my soul.
Somehow, though, three young kids at home makes it very hard for me to single-task and the last year, I have found myself more fragmented than ever. I have been on a path to trying to find the roots of my own discontent and struggle, and sometimes it feels like the deeper I dig, the more fragmented I get. I wonder if I just need to “get on with it already” and live with more gratitude and wellness.
The times in the past four years that I remember feeling the most whole and in the moment where hands down when I was or felt free to “single-task”. A whole morning dedicated to gardening. One day for laundry. One morning to do whatever my boys wanted together. Maybe that is where I need to focus my energies again.
Amy- yes! Single mindedness, so good for our soul. And yes, it is not easy with three littles (I know!)…so perhaps we find the partial solution for this season of our life. Where we can move toward single mindedness, perhaps even for short stretches in our day to give us more of what we need even if it can’t be the whole day.
What might that look like for you if you started to take a baby step in that direction?
So there is something to that old saying that many of us find the answers often at the same time, all over the world. I think that is how some of our scientific discoveries were made, so why not our Mumma discoveries too?.
Only this week I have been trying to re-member my old experiences when the children were little and how it felt to stop and watch a butterfly with them, I kind of miss that time but have just relearned that I can get it back if I just stand still for a moment.
Thank you for this wonderful site, and all these wonderful connections.