If you’re like me (eager to please, and eager to do everything), then you’re probably experiencing what it feels like to completely stretch yourself too thin.
You get what I mean…
That feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day, you wake up as tired as you were the day before.
I’m coming up to my first full year as full-time writer, and I love it. However the fast-paced, competitive industry that I work in obviously means that at times I try to do so many things at the same that I’m not paying attention to more important things.
Here are some signs it’s probably time to take a step back to what you’re currently doing, and what to do instead…
1. You have the longest to-do list ever:
I constantly have something to do. If it’s not an article at work, it’s a blog post to write, an event to attend, or an appointment to go to. Yes, I’m incredibly fortunate to be in my dream career – but it can be exhausting, and it doesn’t help that I say ‘yes’ to everything.
And that’s not a bad thing. After all, early on in your career I appreciate how important it is to take on new opportunities to get more experience. But I know that sometimes I need to think for a moment whether I really have enough time to take on new projects.
Instead: Firstly, it’s ok to say ‘no.’ If someone asks for a favour at work, but you have too much to do – be honest. Tell them your current to-do list and say that unfortunately you have to prioritise those.
But for the day-to-day tasks that are important, invest in a bullet journal to manage your time. Since taking up the form of note-taking I’ve felt as though I’m more on top of my work. Yes, I still have A LOT to do, but bullet journaling has also enabled me to see what the more important things in life are.
2. You’re constantly exhausted:
I’m tired, all the time. I have bags under my eyes, my skin looks tired and I’m generally knackered by the end of the night I’ve conked out in front of the TV. I know I don’t sleep enough, and wind down enough.
Instead: Switch off, and go to sleep earlier. I try and get a full seven hours sleep now, meaning I have to be catching my zzz’s by 11.30pm for my alarm at 6.30am. I don’t think it helps that I struggle to sleep at the moment because of anxiety, but it’s important to take some time to wind down.
3. You’re showing physical symptoms of stress:
I suffer terribly from headaches. In fact, several times a week I’ll have a splitting headache – and over time I’ve learnt that that’s a sign that I’m stressed out. And it’s not just headaches, I’ve slowly learnt the physical symptoms that occur when I’m stressed. I often get a weird, rumbling sensation in the left hand side of my stomach, my leg or eye twitches, I get mouth ulcers.
Sometimes you may just be unwell, but take notice of changes in your body at times when you’re stressed and you may realise that your body is in fact telling you to slow the hell down.
Instead: Make your health your number one priority. There’s nothing more important than your physical health, and nothing is worth making yourself ill for. Sleep more, switch off the tech, meditate, exercise. More than anything, I’ve learnt that exercise is an incredible de-stresser, and I’ve taken up swimming again. The half hour in the pool gives me time for some head space.
4. You feel like you haven’t spoken, or seen, your friends in ages:
This is a hard one for me. Because my job also has a culture of evening events (that often involve drinking), when it comes to the weekend I just want to chill out. This often means that social engagements with my friends can seem like a chore. It’s not that I don’t want to see them, but I’m sometimes so tired all I want to do is chill in my pyjamas and not do anything.
Instead: I need to see what’s a priority. Do I REALLY need to go to that event after work? Make a calendar of what’s going on that week and MAKE time for seeing friends, going to the gym, having coffee with someone you haven’t see in ages. When it comes to the weekend, plan in advance to see people. When I see my friends I’m automatically happier, so I know it’s something that should be a regular thing.
5. You’re obsessed with tech:
If you’re like me, you probably find it hard to switch off your tech. I often have my phone glued to my hand, and I know it’s terrible, but I find it hard not to be. Unplugging myself from the online world makes me feel anxious. I check my work emails multiple times a day when I’m not at work. And if I’m not working, I’m online shopping, searching for holidays and general scrolling aimlessly through Facebook/Twitter/Instagram.
Instead: Give yourself a time limit, and stop using your phone after a certain time. For a few weeks, I switched my phone off around 8pm, and never used it when I was in bed and I felt SO much better. It didn’t last long so I’m going to try and do it again. Rather than go on your phone, read a book – you’ll thank yourself for it.
The moral of this blog post is reconsider whether it’s time to take some time out, and make changes to your current lifestyle. I know I’ve stretched myself too thin, and unfortunately I’ve seen the negative affects of that in the past few months. I’ve seen my mental health get progressively worse, I’ve put on weight because I don’t have time to prep healthy meals, or exercise, and I haven’t given myself time to do things for ME, like see my friends, go to the cinema, spend time with my family.
It’s time to stop stretching ourselves too thin, and instead stretch ourselves to do things that are best for us.
Do you have any tips/advice, or can you relate to what I’ve written about? Let me know in the comments below…