Denver Botanic Gardens

Happy Tuesday, friends. How are you? If we were sitting down together, I'd tell you that it's been a relentless last few weeks for me.

From attending an all-women's leadership camp in Boulder to helping host a jam-packed, two-day tech conference in Denver to rounding out last weekend working with my friends over at PlayHard GiveBack, I'm running on empty. Inevitably, I'm now scrambling to catch up on my full-time gig's work and my nutrition classes. All the while, I'm feeling guilty for not spending more time outside. I'm feeling burnt out, both physically and mentally.  

This tends to happen to me every few months. It's like the seemingly endless work-socialize-exercise-blog-instagram-study, etc. cycle I've created for myself suddenly comes to a grinding halt. I have a few free hours and I'm left grappling with the notion of okay, now what? What needs my attention? What can I work on? And, instead of taking the warranted time to decompress, I jump right into the next thing. I feel obligated to my obligations. A sense of loyalty to my to-do list, if you will. When this happens, I get emotional, cranky, and bicker with my husband about things we've both been sweeping under the rug. It's not healthy.

When I have these bouts of short-lived downtime, I turn inward. I recount all of the times I've said yes to things without fully weighing consequences. Without weighing if it's a full-body yes. 

One of the most pivotal moments for me—at the women's leadership camp—was coming to terms with how often I undermine my own mental wellbeing. I put a lot of pressure on myself to tackle new side projects (ahem, this blog), strive for perfection in whatever I'm working on at my full-time job, and say yes to social plans without much regard. It means I prioritize others' needs, and not necessarily my own, every day. Why do I do it? Mostly, I crave a full plate. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I'm able to add something else to my repertoire and learn something from it. I genuinely enjoy challenging myself. I like stepping outside of my comfort zone.  It helps me grow.

That said, it comes with a cost. It makes me feel overwhelmed and anxious. I fall so far into the comparison trap that I don't know which way is out. I look at other women who have found solace in being busy, and I realize that it's practically a form of camaraderie to join them. Insane? Yes. But true. Anyway, what I'm trying to convey here is that while pursuing your dreams and goals, answering your emails in a timely manner, and saying yes to dinners with friends are all important, your own mental wellbeing trumps all. So today, I'm writing this post to hold myself accountable for saying no more often, for resting more often, and for carving out time for myself. Self care is at the pinnacle of health, and if you take care of yourself, everything else will follow suit.

To act on self care, I recently took myself on a solo date to the Denver Botanic Gardens. It was so peaceful. And so needed. I spent a leisurely hour and a half strolling through the gardens, walking somewhat aimlessly and stopping to people-watch along the way. It wasn't terribly crowded, and the sun felt warm and welcoming on my shoulders. I toyed around with my Canon Rebel T3i and gave myself time to unwind and breathe easy.

When I walked back to my car, I felt immensely lighter and more at peace. I felt more mindful. And fortunately, I felt calmer about the to-do list I knew would be welcoming me with open arms later that day. Over and over again, I've found that spending time in nature is one of the most therapeutic ways to ease my mind and feel more grounded. So, here's to spending more time outdoors, making more time for ourselves, and for committing to fewer commitments.