Burning the candle at both ends

I will be the first to admit that I stretch myself too thin, trying to be everything for everyone. We are after all a nation of pleasers, and overdoing it has become a huge part of our culture. Have you ever stopped to think about whether you are burning the candle at both ends?

How many of these statements can you say yes to?

  • Do you find it difficult to switch off?
  • Do you get overwhelmed at trying to fit in your social life and work life around everything?
  • Are you finding that you have less and less time to yourself because of all your work commitments?
  • Is your productivity starting to lack?
  • Are you finding your time booked up weeks in advance?
  • Are you starting to notice it taking a toll on your body?

I can safely say that at moments in my life, all of the above is me. Even now as I write this I’m tired. It’s a Sunday evening and the first time this week I’ve had a chance to finish this. In fact, I started writing this on Monday lunchtime during a quick break before a big meeting at work, and before I flew to Scotland for a shoot. Last week I had two big nights out with work, followed by a 4am flight and straight into the office, and a huge presentation in front of 900 people. I can practically hear my body telling me to get some sleep.

So why I am ignorantly ignoring it?

Because I, like so many other people just ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป don’tย ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป knowย ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป whenย ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป toย ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป stop. Of course, it’s amazing to be dedicated and committed to your job, and your friends and family, but why has it become so socially acceptable to allow your work, and plan making, to take control of your own mental and physical wellbeing?

I still find it baffling that some people are able to hold down a successful job, make time for friends and family, go to the gym four times a week, eat healthily, drink enough water, get 8 hours of sleep a night AND be on top of all the books/podcasts/TV shows on their list.

HOW YOU SUPERHUMANS?

But I’ve been thinking long and hard about why exactly so many of us are feeling this way, and there’s only one reasonable explanation. We are a nation of pleasers and over-doers. I can speak to any one of my friends, and we’ll know exactly what FOMO feels like, this idea that if we turn down that Friday night outing, or don’t say yes to every invite we get, then we are going to miss out.

But this culture of wanting to please everyone means that one person is constantly being let down, ourselves. Because when was the last time you can truly say you did something for yourself?

Friday night was the first time in a while that I did something for me. I was exhausted after a long week, and my friends were going out, and that little voice in my head started encouraging me to go, too. But I decided against it, went home, cooked dinner with my boyfriend and was in bed by 9pm. I woke up on Saturday hangover-free, feeling happy, productive, and I ended up seeing the same friends that afternoon.

So what can you do to slow down, and stop overdoing it?

  1. Use your diary for you – If you’re a busy person then it’s likely you have a diary or calendar of some sort in your life. Like you would a gym class or a meeting, schedule some time each week to do something for you whether that’s listening to a new podcast, going for a long walk or just getting into bed earlier than normal and watching a film.
  2. Learn to say no – It’s a hard one, but it’s OK to turn down an invite every now and then. And if that’s something you struggle to do, how about trying to rearrange it to be something less complicated. For example, could you suggest changing a boozy, late-night bar session to dinner at yours instead?
  3. Get those zzzz’s – It’s a no-brainer, down tools and switch off earlier and try to get a much-needed sleep. While 8 hours is ideal, we should all really try to be getting a least 7 a night.
  4. Nourish your body – Eating well is one of the best things to do to feed your mind and your body. I always find that I am less stressed, and more productive, during a week where I have meal planned. It’s one less thing for me to worry about day-to-day, plus eating healthily always makes you feel so much better and less sluggish. Invest in a slow cooker for those days you want a home-cooked meal but don’t want the faff when you get home from work.
  5. Be honest with those around you – One of the best things I ever did was made my boss aware of when I’m feeling stressed. He now always checks in, and he taught me all about delegating, something which I always struggled with. I’m also a lot more honest with my friends too, saying when I need to raincheck on a date.
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