Ever have one of those days, weeks, months where everything seems to go wrong? Where you find yourself yelling at the neighbor, husband, boss, kids or dog way more than usual? Where you feel like if you stopped for just a few precious minutes to yourself that everything you have balancing would come crashing down? In those moments when you feel like you could identify with those people who run away to become hippies in Costa Rica, don't feel bad, your not alone.
We all go through these rough patches.I think especially as a woman, we feel more responsible to maintain the house, kids etc all the while keeping up appearances of being a perfect happy family, not to mention working a fulfilling job all the while staying up on the latest news and fashion, and oh yeah, staying impossibly skinny.
Wow just writing that makes me feel tired. Then put on top of that any extra curricular activities like wanting to be a writer or a love for travel, and there it is, negative time.
"Well that's all well and good, Crystal" you think, "but now I'm depressed and feeling even more stressed out".
I hear you, my fearless comrade, and take heart because help is on the way.
You are suffering from (adding a dramatic pause here as I adjust my psychologist hat) life fatigue. Its a phrase I came up with but I think it is very appropriate. It is the condition where you are overworked, overstressed, over committed, and just want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head until it goes away.
So how do we fix it? Because as nice as it might be to hide in bed, or forget your sorrows with a bottle of wine and a good old chick flick; they will still be waiting for you in the morning.
As they say in Alcoholics Anonymous (or so I've heard from the movies) acceptance is the first step. I'm sure there are lots of people out there who have lots of different instant fixes for the problem, but here's what has worked for me.
1. Plan some time. Go to a cafe by yourself, or take a journal to a nearby park, or even go into your bedroom and shut the door behind you. Make sure its somewhere away from distractions where you will not be bothered by well meaning family or friends. Take a journal or something to write on.
2. First of all, take a deep breath and just sit for 20 seconds. Don't let to do lists pop into your head or start thinking about work tomorrow. Take these seconds to stop the carousel and just be present and notice the little things around you. The color of the grass, the taste of the coffee, the texture of the paper; just little things. I am amazed at how quickly this can calm and focus me when I actually take the time to do it.
3. Now that you are a little more calm, get your brain working again. Try to pinpoint the things that are causing your stress and worry. Write them down. All of them. Once you have filled the paper and emptied your head of it all, go back over and read it.
4.Before you start stressing and worrying again, pick one thing. Now analyze that thing. Why is causing you stress? Write it down. Now think about a solution. For example if you absolutely hate cooking dinner every night, then don't. Next time you cook up spaghetti make a triple batch and freeze the extra for a quick dinner on a different night. Or delegate and make it a game with your roomate/husband/kids for them to cook 1 night a week and make it a master chef contest. The most important thing is for you to stare the situation in the face and find out how you can make it work for you and change it so you are not feeling overwhelmed.
5. Now repeat step 4 for your top 5 stress issues. The solutions don't have to be perfect, they just have to be an idea, a start towards solving the problem. Obviously some of the problems are not as easy as making extra spaghetti, and there are some deep hard issues that a lot of us face. You don't have to end world peace today, this is just all about making a plan that you can follow. Remember the old saying about how to eat an elephant: 1 bite at a time.
6. Now by this time you deserve a pat on the back or at least a piece of chocolate. You have made time for yourself. You have faced your fears and issues and are trying to find a solution. You are already started on your road towards a better life. Congrats!
7. To keep the ball rolling and help you get started on your new positive life changes, encourage yourself by looking back. Think about all the really hard really stressful things you have come through. Remember when you were in school and studying for final exams and staying up half the night and stressing your head out? You got through it and now its hard now to even remember which subjects they were. Remember that first promotion you got at work and the new job was 10x harder than the last one? You got through it and picked up some life tips along the way. Remember when you first moved out of home and realized how much responsibility is required to keep the bills paid and a roof over your head? You learned how to budget and how to prioritize. Everyone has a different story, but the result is always the same. You made it through and came out smarter, stronger, and wiser as a result. Don't downplay that.
8. So now what? You have written pages and pages of things in your journal. You have made a game plan. You have thought about your victories. Now you have to actually start to do it. Start to implement your plan today, don't put it off. It doesn't need to be done in a day, you just need to start walking towards your goal. Believe me, just starting move in that direction will make a world of difference. You will be taking the offense with you life, taking charge and making things happen instead of reacting to what it throws at you. You will be the one making the decisions and not just accepting that this is all there is to life.
Remember through everything to always take some time for yourself. When you look for it you will find it no matter how busy you are. It doesn't have to be hours and hours a week, just however much time you need to refocus and recharge. This is so important.
Love and prayers from me going out to all you amazing people out there, you can and will get through this!!