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Do you rest?

I have a confession to make, I’m exhausted.

It’s true.  I’m tired and have difficulty focusing on my reading as long as I feel I should.  I’m pulled in many directions and even missed a deadline to sign up for a class I really was hoping to participate in.  I’m over-booked, which left very little reserve time for family illness. Of course we had to deal with family illness in the midst of my busiest weeks.

This happens to everyone, and it will periodically happen to you too. If it is chronic (meaning you always feel this way) you need to take a step back and make some serious decisions about your life. But if, like most people, you experience this from time to time, you can do a few things to help manage your stress and be sure you can get some rest.

1) Keep a good calendar, and make it accessible.  It doesn’t matter if it is on paper, on your phone or on your computer, just make sure you don’t keep your calendar in your head.  It is too easy to overlap appointments or overbook yourself when you have a meeting next Tuesday and a meeting on the 12th.  It also helps if this calendar is accessible to other adults in your home, so you can be sure you have not booked yourselves in ways that are bad for your relationship.

2) Keep a list of short term and long term goals.  When you have time available, work on those goals. When time gets tight, only agree to the commitments that meet your goals.  For example, one of my goals is to spend time with my children despite my crazy schedule.  To ensure I meet this goal I do not attend the monthly PTA meetings and my children do not participate in after school sports.  We would like those things, but they do not meet our ultimate goal for our family at this time.  In a few years, we may be able to work them in.  Just not now.

3) Keep a time sheet.  This is especially important if you work alone.  It acts as your accountability so you can easily see how many hours a week it takes to do your job and when you work those hours.  You may find you spend considerably less or more hours working than you think you do.  I tend to be on the more side of that equation.

4) Schedule time each week or two weeks for errands, then stick to that appointment.  This can save time so you do not feel like you need to run to the bank, post office or store every other day.  Plan ahead and make the most of your errand day.

5) If you deal with due dates, take the time to make a list of each item you have due and when it is due.  Then start with the first item and get them checked off your list. This prevents you from spending valuable time completing an assignment that isn’t due for a month when you have three due next week.

These tricks won’t solve all your over-scheduled problems, and you will still have weeks like I’m having.  Back to back births will always be tiring. But hopefully, by paying attention to your schedule, you can reduce the frequency and duration of over tired, over busy weeks.  And if you do, you become a healthier individual with the physical reserve you need to serve the families in your community.

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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