The power of stepping away
Have you ever felt that you’re in overdrive, running on autopilot and a little out of control? Do you constantly ask yourself: ‘how did I end up here?’ or ‘when did life get so hectic?’
It’s almost like we’ve become accustomed to the rush of life and have forgotten how to stop and slow down. Between balancing jobs, businesses, a family, a social life, social media, an active lifestyle, eating on the run, not enough sleep and everything in between…. We’ve managed to program our lives to be on fast-mode and we go go go until we can’t go anymore. And when our body has finally had enough, we can start to experience symptoms of adrenal fatigue, exhaustion, and burnout.
The body generally gives us 3 warning signs, often referred to as the feather, the brick and the semi-trailer. The feather being when you start to get little hints that something isn’t right, but it’s generally so subtle that we brush it off. In the case of our health this could show up as tiredness, irritability, irregular sleep, and poor digestion. The brick can hit us a little harder and shows up generally as poor gut health, poor immunity and constantly fighting a cold, feelings of overwhelm, moodiness and craving unhealthy food. The semi-trailer, when it hits, it hits hard. The expression ‘I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck’ is a classic example of the times we’ve ignored the signs that something wasn’t right and all of a sudden, we are knocked down and can barely get up. Health wise this can show up as disease, chronic fatigue, and an array of gut issues including in inflammation which in turn affects the whole body.
And it’s not just physical symptoms that appear from a fast-paced and overworked lifestyle; emotional, spiritual and mental health can take a huge hit too. I am not saying that you’ll end up naked on the bathroom floor, rocking back and forth in the dark listening to Adele just from having a hard day at work, but if you’re feeling like you’re constantly needing a holiday from life… perhaps some things have to change?
I see a number of clients who come to me usually between being hit by the brick and the semi-trailer, and occasionally the semi-trailer has hit them, and they still don’t know how to stop. The first thing we do is make a list of all the open containers of their life and give a rough percentage of how much energy each open container takes. Generally, once we’ve listed all of the open containers the client realises they forgot to include themselves in that list and a moment of realisation kicks in that they’ve completely forgotten they’re any sort of priority in their own life. We then work through strategies that sees them being able to put lids on some of the containers, move them to the side and focus on what is important. Imagine having so many containers open that none of them are given the energy that is needed to sustain them? This happens so often, to so many people, and its generally when we are at the stage of burn-out, or the semi-trailer, that we have no choice but to focus our all of our energy on just getting up and functioning in the morning. Or perhaps worse, a forced rest can show up from your body starting to shut down when enough is enough.
Do you feel that you can relate to having too much on the go and feeling a sense of overwhelm? Perhaps you’ve neglected to nurture your own needs by putting everyone else’s needs ahead of yours.
This could be a great exercise for you to do to see where all of your energy is going. Grab a sheet of paper and a pen. Start writing down (or drawing boxes to represent containers) all of the main parts of your life – ie work, your business, your family, your household, study, your commitments (gym, classes, etc), friends, social life and so on. Give each container a percentage of approximately how much time/energy each one takes. Start to factor time into it and write down how much time you spend on each of these things per day. Now work out how much downtime you have in there. Have you included any time for yourself in there? Time to rest, recharge your batteries or just chill out. Usually when you see it written down on paper the penny drops, and you can start to notice that things may need to change. The hard part seems to come when you have to make the choice to cut back on things, or step right away from them. At first it can feel almost impossible, but you get the choice – keep going the way it’s going and wait for the semi-trailer or take your power back and design a life that is balanced and peaceful.
Now make a new list based on what you’d like to keep, with how much and where your energy goes based on must-do, want-to-do and simply what brings you joy. Where can you create change and shift your priorities? Make it sustainable and make it enjoyable. This is where setting boundaries come in to play. By setting boundaries around where your time and energy goes, you get to be in the driver’s seat of your own life.
By choosing to make a conscious decision to step away from things, people and places that don’t serve you, that don’t bring you joy and that don’t contribute to your own personal peace, you’re choosing you. And if you aren’t filling your own container enough, your beautiful, sparkly energy can’t spill over into other containers.