How to Do Less and Prioritize You in 2020

by Kimberly Jordan Allen

Let me guess … you’ve got a lot on your plate. Who doesn’t these days? With nonstop tasks, options, and information arriving at all hours of the day and night, how do we prioritize?

“There’s so much coming at us all the time that it becomes really tricky to distinguish between what really matters and what doesn’t,” says Kripalu presenter Kate Northrup, author, entrepreneur, and mother. “We have to remain vigilant and take the time to identify the things that are important to us because otherwise, by default, our days—and thus, our lives—get spent putting out fires and tending to everyone else’s needs.”

So, how do we reorient back to self-care? Here are five tips from Kate for enhancing inner awareness and prioritizing ourselves.

Pay attention to your rhythms. When we’re focused on everything else around us, we often tune out our natural rhythms. Kate suggests that women track not only the day they’re going to start their period and the day they’re going to ovulate, but also the other phases of the cycle. “Get to know how you feel during the different times of the month,” she says. “If you don't have a menstrual cycle, start paying attention to the phases of the moon and how you feel during each one.”

Go within. There's no one-size-fits-all method for getting back to center. But there are some tried-and-true, evidence-based techniques. Kate recommends meditation, breathwork, yoga, walking in nature, dancing, and eliminating substances that disconnect us from ourselves (like alcohol and drugs). 

Write it down. Studies reveal that writing is a powerful practice for cognitive functioning, benefiting our mental well-being and emotional self. In addition, writing helps us to prioritize our feelings and thoughts. And when we practice this in concert with the natural rhythms of nature, we honor both our own energies and those of the world around us. “Make a list of what you want to call in on the new moon and what you want to release on the full moon,” Kate suggests. “These simple acknowledgments of the cyclical nature of time and our experience can be so grounding, and give us access to energetic reserves we can't tap into when we're moving through life like a linear, goal-oriented arrow.”

Mark it on your calendar. Many of us, particularly women, are conditioned to de-prioritize ourselves and adapt our behavior for others. “Tending to ourselves is a skill we need to consciously cultivate in adulthood to un-brainwash ourselves from the belief that our job is to be of service to others at the cost of our own well-being,” Kate notes. Acknowledge your own value by mapping out time for self-care on your calendar, whether it’s a yoga class, a hike in the woods, or meditation.

Do less. The cult of busy is a myth. It’s really about being intentional with our time and energy. For many of us, this means letting go of the notion of perfection, and learning to say no. By cultivating intention, we let things fall away that no longer serve us. “Your worth is not based on what you do. It's based on who you are,” says Kate. “So you can stop trying to prove something by how busy you are.”

However you choose to practice self-care, let this be the truth you return to, always. Coming back to who you are can be as simple as taking a long, slow, deep breath that supports you to land in this moment. Once you do, the next moment unfolds with greater ease.

Kimberly Jordan Allen is an award-winning writer, editor, and content strategist.