By Kristen Schulte
I’m exhausted. I woke up early and have gotten to bed late. The day was filled between clinical hours, studying, meeting up with this one friend for dinner, calling another friend who I hadn’t talked to in months, and getting the rough draft of my presentation out to my group before midnight.
I crossed three items off of my list and added five.
I was exhausted yesterday and the day before that, and come to think of it, I will probably feel like this again tomorrow, but in my mind, if I did not feel exhausted, then I would likely feel lazy.
As I collapsed into bed each night for months, years, after days packed with commitments that I had made as a student, employee, roommate, friend, daughter, and so on,
I started to realize that the one part missing in my day was – me.
I like to run, read a book, cook good food, and talk to God at night without falling asleep mid-prayer. Yet, there was no time for those activities because what I filled my day with had become non-negotiable to a certain extent. If I want to graduate as a physical therapist, I should go to class and study hard. If I want to lessen my loans, I should continue to go to work. If I want to be loved and supported in life, I should love and support my family and friends by giving them my time.
For me, the problem is that I do not place a limit on the time that I spend on certain obligations.
I can always call more friends or spend more hours studying. Time planned for myself is negotiable. I can flex hours that I had planned to spend going for a run or grocery shopping because it feels selfish to want to spend time doing something that will only benefit me. Bartering my time and mitigating the importance of my previously planned activities goes on and on each day, compounding and weaseling its way into becoming a habit rather than an exception.
That’s how I became exhausted.
While I had begun to recognize this pattern in my life, it wasn’t until I attended my first morning yoga class that a remedy for my exhaustion occurred to me. As I sat there at the beginning of the class, I heard the instructor say, “Remember that this is an hour that you have committed to yourself. Let your worries of the day to come leave the room.”
Huh? That was news to me. I was not aware that I had set that hour aside for myself. I was just hoping to cram in a workout and six in the morning was the only feasible time for a day that was yet again packed full. I sat on that thought for a while. In fact, I could not get the concept of an hour a day for myself out of my mind.
The idea felt right, but the reality of it felt implausible.
I was pretty sure that I did not have an hour to spare, but what if I created an hour every day for myself? What if I blocked out a time that was a non-negotiable commitment to me?
This evening, I will enjoy my 106th hour for myself.
(That’s a little over three months of this practice.) Some of the highlights of my hour include quite a few long runs, trying a couple of new recipes, exploring a different bike trail, and finishing my first book in two years. I have even sat on the couch and watched TV without trying to study at the same time, and once, my roommate came home to me painting a canvas to hang behind my bed.
To my surprise, my relationships, school work, and other obligations have not at all suffered as a result of my hour
but it has at least forced me to keep my commitments in check by limiting the time that I can possibly spend on them.
More than anything, though, I have become less stressed and more excited with what I have to do and choose to do in a day because I know that I will always have an hour built into my day with just enough space for attending to my needs. I’m not so exhausted anymore, and I surprisingly do not feel lazy or selfish. I just feel a little more at peace, and I’m wondering, what would happen if you gave yourself a little more space too?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristen Schulte believes that any day on a lake is a good day, in baking pumpkin muffins as the key to friendship, in Settlers of Catan for quality family time, that God often speaks during long runs, and in enjoying the journey. Having earned her Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree at Xavier University, she continued onto the University of Dayton where she is currently pursuing her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.