As I’m writing this, September has just begun and Labor Day is but a few days away. I’ve always loved Labor Day because, to me, it ushers in the fall season. It’s a wonderful time of year when we can still bask in the warmth of summer as we witness bright greens and yellows gradually transform into oranges and reds. The air feels and smells fresh and delicious. September is a special feast for the senses and beckons us to slow down and be mindful. However, Labor Day usually turns into just that — a day of laboring and frantically trying to accomplish tasks. While in my mind September is serene and wonderful, in my reality, it’s often stressful and rushed. This year, I don’t want to miss the month because I’m caught up in tasks and to-do lists. If you’d like to join me in replacing stress, worry, and anxiety with a sense of centered purposefulness, read on for an exercise to help you do just that.
The Labor Day weekend in the US gifts us with a great opportunity to pause, reflect and reset. However, this meaningful pause isn’t dependent upon having Labor Day off work or even recognizing the day at all. Do the following exercise any time of year, whenever you are feeling particularly stressed and frantic or like you’re just going through the motions, rushing from one task to the next and finding yourself wondering why.
An Exercise to Go from Stressed to Centered and Frantic to Purposeful
This activity is designed to help you pause and regroup for your wellbeing. Feel free to spend as much or as little time on it as you wish. Use it often, especially when you’re feeling caught up in the busyness of life and find yourself no longer fully enjoying moments every day.
To begin, select a special time of day and space where you can nurture yourself. Settle in comfortably, and surround yourself with things that make you mentally and physically content.
- Honor your labors. Reflect on all you have accomplished recently. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and daunted by all the tasks that lie ahead. Write a list of things you’ve done today (or yesterday if you’re doing this first thing in the morning), big and small. Appreciate yourself for having done what you have. Maybe write yourself a note of gratitude.
- How do your labors enhance your life? In what ways are you moving toward your values by doing what you do? How are your actions and tasks purposefully contributing to your vision for your quality life?
- How are you accomplishing all that you are doing? Reflect on the strengths you have that allow you to do what you do.
- Honor your relaxation. List the ways you are keeping stress in check. What have you been doing to nurture yourself so you can keep going? List the things that bring you joy or peace. Write a statement committing to doing more of them. Be specific: What will you do every day, and when will you pause to do it?
Pausing regularly to reflect on and appreciate all that you do can help you feel centered. Rather than feeling like you’re merely zooming from one task to the next, day after day, you can begin to see how your efforts fit purposefully into your life.
Also, reflecting on how you are relaxing can help you be more intentional about nurturing yourself. When you see that doing so allows you to work toward what’s important to you, it’s easier to create time for self-care.
Acknowledging how you’re living each day can help you live with deeper meaning and intention. Fully seeing and appreciating what you do (including relaxation) is an effective way to feel centered and purposeful rather that stressed and frazzled.