"You Know You": A Lesson in Giving Back to Me
Hey there! Happy August!
After a month of rest and smelling the sunflowers, there are some things that I want to talk about. Some things that I think could help you out if you've been feeling the way that I had been up until about a week or two ago.
As I mentioned in a recent Instagram post, it's been one hell of a summer. Along with the sunshine (and too much rain) came endlessly planned weekends, multiple trips to the airport and big client projects at work. Among all of this, I took it upon myself to sign up for a summer-long challenge at my yoga studio. You know, to combat any stress that might pop up.
Talk about your all-time backfires (name that movie!).
As someone with mild anxiety (meaning it's always there, but is not debilitating and often doesn't affect the way that I live), I have gotten used to feeling waves of uncertainty and unease. I'm usually able to calm myself back down and reassure myself that things are going fine, that I worry too much. However, when I don't have enough downtime built into my schedule those waves become tsunamis - and I definitely wasn't giving myself enough time.
BOOM. Did a light bulb just go off for you? I wasn't giving myself enough time. I had been giving time to all of these external things: plane rides, projects, family time, yoga and scrolling on my phone. And even though none of these things are negative, they were piling up and not leaving enough space for me.
That was my big epiphany this summer. Over the course of the past few days, I've been working toward breaking down that mindset into smaller lessons that I could share with you, in the hopes that it won't take you having a breakdown to realize that you're stifling yourself.
Lesson #1: Girl, Give Yourself a Break
First thing's first: we are way too hard on ourselves. So you weren't as productive as you could have been today? So what? You'll get back at it tomorrow. So you haven't written a blog post in a month? (whoops) Who cares? This is your personal project - and you get to decide how it's done. If you're feeling like your brain is telling you that it can't take another day without downtime (or if you get that weird feeling in your chest like I do), then listen to it. We can't all be at 1000% every single day.
Lesson #2: Sick Days Aren't Just For Stomachaches
Here's one of the hardest lessons that I've had to learn. As a college student, if you weren't feeling well or you were having an off-day, you could email your professor or TA and tell them that you wouldn't be able to make it to lecture that day (or if attendance didn't count against your grade, you could just skip). As a full-time human, you usually have to take a sick day. If the thought running through your mind right now is, "No way I'd use a sick day if I wasn't puking", then I'm with you. That's the way I looked at sick days for a long time too - until I noticed that that feeling in my chest wasn't really going away day after day. In fact, the more I put off a day to myself, the worse it got.
The mental barrier that you have to get over is the difference between being physically and mentally sick. In 2017, our society still doesn't value mental health as much as it values physical health, but if you've been dealing with anything similar to what I've described above, it's time for a reality check. If you can't function mentally, does being physically well make a difference? Take back some time for yourself. I promise that you will not regret it.
Lesson #3: Tidying Up > Loafing
Another thing that I learned through this season was the power of mindless tasks. When I first started to feel the overwhelm, I would let myself spend entire nights doing nothing except binge-watching Game of Thrones. I would go to bed feeling the same way that I had when I woke up that morning - because I was relaxing physically, not mentally. A better tactic that I've found to let myself have "productive downtime" is to conquer household chores. Whether that's doing dishes, dusting, sweeping the floor or making the bed, I've found that silent busy work can make me feel more zen than loafing around.
Lesson #4: You Know You Better Than Anyone
Lastly, there's only one way to get through any anxiety-filled periods of your life - and that's to trust yourself. If you wake up in the morning, after weeks of rocking out another amazing client project, and your brain tells you that it's had enough - take some time back for yourself. If your friends want to make all-day plans for the 5th weekend in a row and you're an introvert who needs alone time to recharge - do what's best for you. The best thing that you can do is be honest with the people around you about what you need to feel whole, and trust yourself to know what those pieces are.
I hope that these insights into my life over the past few weeks have been helpful in some way - big or small! If you have any questions about other ways that I work with anxiety or mental overwhelm, feel free to shoot me a message. I'm happy to talk. :)
Thank you for giving me the grace of a much-needed break from it all. I appreciate all of you and look forward to getting back into writing, innovating and updating this blog.