I feel like I have been spreading myself far too thin lately and my mental well-being is getting a bit threadbare.
Between work never slowing down, constantly being on the road and trying to launch a little blog as a side hobby with zero experience, my stress is completely maxed out. And when you add in normal daily chores, like cooking, cleaning, taking care of 3 dogs and paying bills….it’s a lot for one person to do manage on their own.
I’ve noticed every night before bed I’ve been creating to-do lists for the next day, so as soon as I wake up the first thing I do is grab my phone and think “let’s just get this over with.” What a crappy way to begin a day!
This thought pattern I’ve fallen into is really bothering me. I don’t like to live my life with a “let’s just get it over with” attitude. There’s no excitement; no joy in anticipation of the possibilities that lie ahead in the next 24 hours. I am truly so busy right now that every single second of my day is mapped out to must-do tasks from the time I open my eyes until my head hits the pillow in the evening, leaving little room for free time or fun surprises. In fact, it seems the only surprises I’ve been getting lately have been of the unhappy variety, like accidentally overdrawing my bank account or fat-fingering an order to the wrong customer.
My lack of enthusiasm at life in general had become of a bit of concern to me as well, so I reached out to my therapist for the first time in well over a year. I filled him in on what all had transpired in my life in the last 18 months and by the time I got around to the reason I was calling (AKA help I feel dead inside), he quickly had a simple answer that hit me like a ton of bricks.
“Kathie it sounds like you’re too busy to be excited.”
The human nature to overcomplicate every emotion never ceases to amaze me. There it was, the most simple explanation that made perfect sense. I haven’t had a chance to even process emotion because I’ve been running on autopilot nonstop for months. Things like birthdays and holidays have been so stressed and rushed for time because of work, there wasn’t an opportunity to treat them as celebration; they just became another check on the to-do list.
Now that I know the root of my problem is just time management and not that my soul is in fact completely dead, I can begin to work on sorting things out. First and foremost, I figured out how to turn my phone on “Do Not Disturb” on weeknights. Nothing is worth your sanity, and there is no reason why I need to be dealing with work issues after 7pm or before 7am, barring an actual emergency, like one of my co-workers are on fire and I’m the only one with an extinguisher close enough to save them. I work very hard and do a very good job, but everyone needs boundaries. I was able to set it up so that between those hours I get NO notifications whatsoever, from any app or phone call unless they are in my “favorites” contacts, where I have my parents and 2 closest friends stored.
Next, I actually used my PTO days for the first time in years. I only get 5 in my first year at this job, so I’m taking them, and I’m actually taking a trip to California in a few weeks. This is going to be the trip of a lifetime, beginning solely with the fact that I am FINALLY getting west of Memphis for the first time ever. In my very short “long” weekend, I’m cramming in whale watching, horseback riding, wine country and Pismo Beach. There I go with the to-do lists again. But at least these tasks won’t be met with the thought of “let’s just get it over with.” Instead, it will be “I can’t wait to do this.”
My hope is to eventually work myself into a schedule that doesn’t feel like chores, but honestly, I’m so Type A that listmaking is one of my love languages, so a lot of this stress is self-induced. I absolutely love what I do and I’m blessed to wake up every day in the life I have, but I think it’s normal for anyone to feel stressed when they don’t have opportunities for self-care. That is also why I’ve began making the gym and food prep part of my to-do lists again. It’s so easy to let those things go by the wayside because they’re not “punishable” offenses if you skip them, but that has resulted in the worst consequences for me. Feeding my body whole foods and releasing stress for at minimum 30 minutes a day are crucial to overall well-being, just as much as anything else.
I hope if any of you are feeling the burn like I am that you’re able to find someone to talk to. Sometimes just getting things out of your head by saying them aloud is enough to solve your problems! Look for the easiest and most manageable solutions and begin implementing them ASAP. Life is too short to “just get it over with.”