Rush hour. A period of heavy traffic that occurs every day. It lasts for at least an hour, sometimes more. You have a general idea as to when it will hit, but there is always some variances that are unknown.
You can expect long delays some days, due to external forces, such as the weather or a crash. Other days, it flows beautifully and you may even forget you are in the midst of rush hour.
Middle age is the rush hour of life.
In our forties, we find ourselves 20-plus years into our nursing careers, facing some of the roughest child-rearing years and watching our parents age before our eyes. Let’s face it, there are rough days when external forces slow us down and stress us out. Other days, we fly through life forgetting all of the “to-do’s”, “must-haves” and lists of things that need our attention.
But, why allow fate to decide what kind of traffic pattern you will deal with today, tomorrow and beyond? With some intentional planning and purposeful tactics, you can decide the route and level of traffic you want to deal with during some of the busiest years of your life.
Schedule Relaxation – You likely grew up watching Baby-Boomer parents work and work. And, work some more. I remember sitting at the table every evening listening to work stories because this was how my dad would unwind. But, when we schedule in days offs, activities we enjoy and time with those we love, we enjoy life a bit more.
When your down time is on the planner in the right time slot and coordinating color, we tend to stick to it. Make sure you remember to schedule time for you.
Accountability Partner – This takes a little effort and practice, but having someone who can hold you accountable for taking time for yourself will really help you deal with the heavy traffic days. Find someone you trust. Your spouse or best friend can provide gentle reminders to help you remember to take a walk at lunch, schedule a spa day or read a book for pleasure.
Plan Ahead – When you know the traffic will be bad on the way home because mother nature just dumped 6 inches of snow, do you travel out blindly? Of course not, you check the weather radar and the news to see where the accidents may be and if there are road closures.
Life is the same! Plan your routes when you know you may be heading into a heavy rush hour life day. If you calendar looks like of pack of multi-colored Bic pens vomited due to the myriad of activities all color-coded for each family member – plan ahead!
Set aside 15 minutes to just listen to music and relax. Plan a 30 minute lunch with the bestie. Sleep-in! Whatever activities will make the rush hour of life a bit more tolerable on busy days, plan it!
Exercise – No, you don’t have to join the biggest fad out there right now to be healthy. Take a walk. Do a 30 minute pilates or yoga routine that you find on YouTube. 30 minutes every day is really all you need to help with stress. On days when the traffic patterns of life are busier than an LAX runway, 30 minutes is likely all you have time for anyway.
Don’t forget the brain exercises. On heavy traffic days, we may be physically tired, but our brains run like crazy! Write a poem, do a puzzle, word search or other mind soothing activity.
Oh, and answering work emails or text don’t count! Just saying.
Budget – Things worth doing deserve a budget! So, if you decide that your go-to heavy traffic day of life requires a mani-pedi, put it in the budget. This will help you from feeling guilty about it later. You deserve it, so make sure you fit this into the budget for the week or month.
You are in the busiest season of life. You are a tenured nurse, parent, child and more! You hold multiple roles at work, the kids’ school, church and other organizations. Don’t allow this time of life to burn you out.
Rush hour will come and go. And, many folks who have traveled through this crazy stretch of life will say that someday you will miss this craziness. But, why feel stressed while you are sitting bumper to bumper in the rush hour of life?
Take time to enjoy your career, your family life and time just for you!