Experimenting With Ease

Like many teachers at the end of May, I’m chugging along to the end of the school year, except, with how busy I’ve been lately, I feel like a runner with a broken leg who still has to finish the marathon. Luckily, with the long weekend coming up, I will finally have the chance to rejuvenate myself for the first time in almost 2 months, but until then, I’ve been getting by doing the minimum amount of work that I need to do. For an overachiever like myself, this doesn’t feel good at all, but my body has been telling me, quietly, and now quite loudly, that it needs to rest. Even when I’ve tried to continue working at my normal pace lately, it just flat out doesn’t work.

So, this week I’m experimenting with the concept of ease.

What would each part of / task in my day feel like if it were easy?

I’m going to try to make everything feel as easy as possible, not because I’m afraid of hard work, but because I’m tired from so much hard work and trying to counteract my tendency to make things harder than they need to be. There’s this subconscious idea that work should be hard, and our society has drilled into us the virtue of hard work. Sure, some things are hard, but that shouldn’t be our default setting! Making things hard as a default setting is leading me toward burnout.

How am I doing this?

  • First, I’m continuing all of my survival strategies that I posted last week.
  • I’m going to look for ways that I might be overcomplicating things, and then just take it step by step.
  • If something feels hard, or I think “Ugh, I can’t do this,” I am going to remind myself that I can (and will!), and that it’s not going to be as difficult as I feared.
  • I'm trying to make my days more enjoyable - having tea or kombucha, getting up to move around regularly, and giving myself breaks to lie down and read if I’m out of energy at the moment (because otherwise I’m just sitting and staring at either the piano or a computer screen, which doesn’t work).
  • I’m also trying my best to avoid feeling busy, by not rushing, not walking fast, and accepting the amount of work I’m able to do each day. A shift in perception is everything, and perhaps the root solution to all problems.

What I’ve noticed so far:

If I feel like I need a break, I take one, and feel better afterwards. Wait a second, isn’t this how things are usually supposed to work, not just when I’m feeling depleted? Why yes, it is! Like Lisa Congdon wrote about herself here, I’m a hamster who just “[does] not know how to stop the wheel and get off”. Since my body is now yelling at me to stop doing that, I’m going to. It is not realistic for me to expect that I can work all day and then teach for 5-6 hours until 8pm, and I’m surprised that I could keep up that pace as long as I did. My summer schedule is much more flexible and open, so I’m looking forward to shifting my pace after next week.

Letting go of expectations (when I’m able to do that) really does reduce my stress level and helps me conserve much-needed energy. I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to finish this blog post today, but then, ironically, realized I had been overthinking it, and suddenly it was easy to finish! I’m definitely interested in developing this skill further.

Speaking of ease, one of the most important things that makes life easier is setting up healthy habits. I have a free worksheet for you that will help get your new habits on autopilot: 

In the name of ease, I’m going to end this post right here, as the experiment is ongoing. I’ll report more soon! I’m looking forward to hitting the reset button with consecutive days of unscheduled time this weekend! I hope you are able to do the same.

Rebecca Hass

Pianist and composer