Everyone, even the Elon Musk’s or Marina Abramovic’s of this world, occasionally experiences the ‘it’s all too much’ feeling of overwhelm and exhaustion. It’s a natural human condition and you are neither weak nor exceptional for experiencing it yourself. However, we are all guilty of trying to power through it rather than listening to our bodies and taking a probably very earned and definitely needed break.
Instead of downing tools, we often carry on unhappily, producing little of great worth and struggling the whole way through. Social media has only exacerbated our need to put on a happy face and limp along when we want to hide away, but what if we didn’t? What if we tried a different approach?
Here are three easy, free and essential steps to returning to a place where you can keep going.
When we really feel like we’re about to break and we’re banging our heads against the wall, the best thing we can do for ourselves is down tools and walk away from the problem. This may sound counter-intuitive to you. You might think you’re supposed to work through the issue right now, but the truth is that you’re probably totally spent and continuing to push that rock up that hill will bring you nothing more than frustration and possibly even a sense of self-doubt.
So, leave it. Pack up your desk and put your energy elsewhere. Take the rest of the week off, if that’s what you need, to recharge your batteries and gain a different perspective. Wipe the slate clean and push whatever is the trigger for the stress or anxiety is out of your mind for the time being.
I’m not saying ignore the problems and tamp down the emotional response, I’m simply saying give yourself a break. Take a few days to focus your energy elsewhere and see what happens.
Ask for help
It’s healthy to admit defeat once in a while and surrender to our emotions. It’s ok to pull the duvet over your head and feel sorry for yourself for a day or two, but often we only prolong the struggle when we don’t share the load. Friends, mentors and trusted allies are there for this very reason. Sure, they love to celebrate your wins, but they are also there to empathise, pool their resources and support you through your lows.
Asking for help can sometimes feel like some sort of concession that you’re not the badass people believe you to be, but I assure you that showing people that you’re a vulnerable human who’s honest about their emotions, can be both cathartic for you, and inspiring for others witnessing your journey.
Few things feel better than being surrounded by people who love you and sincerely want to see you do well. Let them shower you with positive energy and accept their encouragement and compliments. Let it all sink in. Other people think you’re pure magic.
When we ask for help, we often quickly realise that we are not alone. This is a biggie! Knowing that others in our life as feeling similarly helps us gain perspective and removes the sense of it being our fault. It allows us to remember that this feeling is normal and it will pass. Others are experiencing something similar and they are people we admire or those we’d never have realised were going through this shared experience had we not spoken up.
We all know that two brains are better than one and inviting trusted people to join you in solving your challenge when you’re ready, can actually make the process more enjoyable. Getting external perspectives or expert advice can change the way you see the whole issue.
Now that we’ve stopped focusing on the triggers and we’ve surrounded ourselves with good energy the last piece of the puzzle is taking care of ourselves. We all know what the things are that make us feel better, whether we chose to prioritise them or not. For some, it’s a hot bath for others a run. Exercise is a well-known factor in improving one’s mental health, so while you’re taking those days away from the studio, and once you’ve finally peeled back the duvet, try putting on those trainers and doing whatever form of exercise helps clear your head and process your load.
A clear mind is the start of a new outlook and is an essential factor in feeling ready to return to the table and try again.
Whilst taking this three-pronged approach of taking a break, surrounding yourself with support and indulging in your particular brand of self-care, can all help calm the sense of overwhelm and frustration, remember to be patient with yourself. Often the stresses in our lives have been building for a long time before we address them and thus, can take longer than we expect to resolve them.
Feeling better and working through things is a process. Be kind to yourself and recognise the importance of the work you’re doing to improve your situation even if it doesn’t feel like it’s making an immediate difference. It will. Stay with it.
And remember, the world is not an easy place at the moment. It’s totally fair to not feel like your most productive or perfect self. This will pass and things will improve. But whilst we’re here, let’s do everything we can to minimise the pain.