Most mornings, I fill my coffee mug to the brim. This means that I have to walk really slow and be really careful not to spill it as I start my morning. More often than not though, I end up spilling it. Just enough to where I have to stop what I’m doing, get some cleaning supplies, and clean it up. What a waste of time, right? And you’re probably wondering why I haven’t learned to stop filling it so full.
Well, it’s because I’m not leaving myself enough margin in my mug to prevent spills from happening. So I end up wasting valuable time and energy cleaning up my mess. All too often I hear my clients and friends complaining about being stressed, anxious, too busy, and on the verge of a tailspin. Do you know why? They aren’t giving themselves some margin in life.
Can you relate? As a culture, we are constantly juggling multiple balls simultaneously, with little to no time for ourselves, and we wonder why we aren’t happy and are stressed and anxious instead!
Don’t be like me and keep filling your coffee mug too full day after day. Create the margin you need in your life. For some, it’s just a little self-care every now and then, but for others, this margin is necessary for health, happiness, and sanity. Don’t compare yourself to what someone else’s margin is. Intentionally create the margin you need to keep yourself in a positive, grateful mindset.
How to Create Margin in Your Life
1. Leave plenty of buffer between activities.
Purposely schedule some time in between activities. This will lower your stress tremendously and allow you to catch your breath during the day. No one needs to see you coming in hot on two wheels, frazzled and disheveled.
2. Wake up earlier.
Waking up late is one of the worst ways to wake up! When you wake up with some margin, you’ll be less anxious, nicer towards the people you live with, and start your day off with peace.
3. Learn how to say no.
No, for now. It’s normal to want to say yes and to really want to do that thing you were invited to, or go to that thing that looks like so much fun. But you know what’s not fun? Not giving yourself enough margin and running yourself straight off a cliff because you’ve said yes to so many great (and not so great) things. There will be another season in life where you can say yes to more. But for now, learn to say no. Give yourself permission to leave some margin.
4. Create a morning routine.
A simple morning routine can change the pace of your day, your mood, and your productivity. Plus, when you make it a routine, it takes the brainwork out of it so early in the morning. As an extra bonus, include something for your wellbeing: set an intention for the day, do a few yoga stretches, write in a journal, or carve some prayer time.
5. Be proactive rather than reactive.
Plan for the curveballs that life will throw at you. Inevitably, you’ll get thrown some. Go ahead and make a plan for when you have a conflict, miss a deadline, or get sick. This will lower your stress and anxiety and give you some breathing room the next time something unexpected happens.
6. Limit social media.
Or anything that distracts you on a daily basis. If you want to find some easy margin, just get off your phone. Take those mind-numbing apps off your phone and only scroll when you’re at a computer. Plan to look at social media at lunch and in the evening only. Unfollow some of those people you really don’t care to know about on a daily basis. This will dramatically add some time back into your day.
7. Receive help.
This is a tough one. We don’t want to ask for help or even accept help when it is offered. But what a blessing and sense of relief as you learn to say yes to those that want to help. Get past the vulnerability and discomfort of accepting assistance and see the joy and value in it. As much as we like to be the giver and helper, others do as well. Acts of Service is a wonderful love language and it is okay to receive love in that way.
What Comes Next?
You’ve read the blogs, tips, and posts with catchy ideas. You’re taking the steps and making progress, but you crave more. You want answers about why habits have formed in your life and how you can take steps to ensure they don’t take hold again.
Kristi Schwegman is a psychotherapist specializing in helping couples develop healthy relationships, whether dating, engaged, or married. She also draws from her Christian-based approach to lead individuals in becoming aware of the limiting beliefs that can get them stuck.
We offer in-person and virtual services – contact us today to learn more!