On Overload

Breaking Glass Girl Goal Post-It

One day I noticed a difference in myself, I know it didn’t happen overnight but suddenly, I realized it. I’ve been stressed before, but I felt like I hit a new level of stress. I’m the type of person that jumps into everything 100% in without thinking. I’ve been told before it’s okay to say no or that I don’t have to do everything, but I’ve always been able to manage it. In fact, I would go so far as to say that part of my identity was always being the reliable dedicated person in both my professional and personal life.

My identity got tested over a three-month period where I pushed myself to my max. I went into it thinking I could do it all – no problem. My days started at 3:30 a.m. I’d go to the gym from 4:00 – 5:00 a.m., come home and get ready for work. In the free time before work, I’d try to take a nap, work on homework or meal prep. I’d work Monday through Friday. On Monday and Wednesday nights, I had class until 9:45 p.m. The rest of the nights and weekends were filled with errands, homework, some socializing and sleep. By Sunday evening I was pretty much exhausted. For 12 weeks this was my schedule. I felt like I was in over my head, but I could not admit it. I was embarrassed to admit it. I felt like I wasn’t performing to my usual quality and I noticed my confidence and motivation were slipping away. By the time I realized something was wrong, I had given myself fast paced heart beats, a locked jaw (more than once) and the inability to sleep through the night. I had pushed myself into a mild case of being burnt out. 

 If you Google “burnout” you’ll find about 67,600,000 results (as of 7/25/18). If you scroll through the results, you’ll see that no one is immune and there isn’t a cure-all. There are articles on burnout for various situations and degrees. While I’m not a doctor or even an expert I decided to write about it because it’s important to be self-aware. Let’s face it – burnout is more common than we’d like to think. We all have goals, dreams, and a life that is demanding and yet some days you just want to crawl into a cave. Burnout is caused by singular items like work, life, extracurricular activities or a combination of them.

I think we unwillingly fuel stress which can lead to burnout because we don’t give ourselves permission to take a minute. We feel like we need to go, go, go. I knew I was close to my limit as my mind raced, I felt anxious and I was wide awake during the twilight hours. But I didn’t listen to the warning signs. It got to a point where having visitors or trying to take part in anything fun was a burden. Trust me, I love having company and doing fun things – I was just so worn out and detached from it

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This year I made an oath to myself to stop feeling guilty about everything. Guilty about not being perfect all the time (or ever, really), guilty for not having the most exemplary wardrobe or flawless body, guilty for eating too much gluten or drinking too much coffee, guilty for making investments or taking career risks that don’t pan out, guilty for not responding to every e-mail, guilty for not being the perfect mom, wife or friend.
— Randi Zuckerberg

After going through the thick of it, I realized I couldn’t keep up the charade of doing it all. It wasn’t fair to anyone, especially me. After fully admitting what was going on to my husband I decided to quit my workouts and I made the hard decision to put personal relationships on hold for a bit. I decided to be transparent and honest about how I was feeling, and it really helped. I was lucky that after three months I was able to make changes and start on the road to returning to my normal. I didn’t snap back overnight, I had to change my mindset. I know others go through burnout for longer periods and feel stuck. I hope if you are experiencing burnout or stress, that you can share it with others. In my case, there was nothing more important than being heard and feeling validated. Knowing others understood allowed me to give myself permission to take a break. I challenge you to keep yourself honest and make the hard decisions if they’ll benefit you.

Need resources? Click here for the Google search results.

I wish I had found the book I'll feature in What I'm Reading - August sooner. There are others who have gone through burnout and have come up with solutions that have worked for them. I can't wait to share the book with you. In the meantime I'd love to hear and share the tactics that have worked for you.  Please share them with us!