You find me writing this blog from the couch that I’ve put together a few days before boxes surrounding the decorative boxes I got to put stuff away into. There are wrappers, trash, and plastic littering the living room. While I have most of the stuff built, I’m failing to put together the hanger for the hammock I got and it sits half open, along with all the other stuff.
I dusted and reorganise two different bookcases. My Winnie the Pooh watch collection now sits nearly complete, but now de fussed of the dust that covered its surface. It’s made space for two more openings on my bigger bookshelf, where I’m to decide what would be best placed where. Should I display all of my Kingdom Hearts Ultimanias or should I bring down some Funko Pops to fill in the space a little more? Incapable of deciding on its placement, I move onto to the washing.
Misty sits with me half asleep as I coax myself into putting on the washing machine for the 5th time to dry some clothes. It’s been raining for a few days straight now so it’s pointless to hang out the washing onto the line only for them to become more wet than when they left the washing machine. I tease out some near dry items and hang them on the indoor rack – space is at a premium, so the rest must go back in to try again.
I know that I’m overdue taking a shower, changing the bed and bringing all the new sheets I brought up with me upstairs. All of my fitted sheets seem to have gone missing over the last while, so I’m conscious of the fact I need them to turn up too. The lawn hasn’t been cut in months to let the garden heal from the crappy winter we had with cloud, even so much so that my neighbours commented on it recently.
I’m embarrassed to be honest, it feels like I should be able to do these things and just get on with it.
But I’m tired. Today, I’m exhausted and instead of doing what I had done for most of the day and be productive regardless of my body prompting me to be still.
I feel guilty for being still. I think a lot of us do.
I want to help change the narrative on what it means to be tired. As most of us know, it isn’t coming from a place of laziness but what is taking up our energy. This is a distinction that took me a very long time to reconcile with. I’m the person whom when anything big happens in their life, I throw myself into the opposite spectrum of working myself through my trauma.
It’s something I’m sure I picked up from childhood through my Dad as it solved nearly all the problems in my life as “you just push through it”. But every time I hit this cycle where I can go no further than I wind up resting only for the cycle to start again. At what stage do we see ourselves as enabling the cycles we go through because we know of no other way to be?
Logically, this is a resources issue. This is an issue with what goes in and what goes out. If you stopped taking breaths in, you’d not survive very long. Same way with stress and the resulting burnout. Sometimes too little goes in and too much goes out.
There are some ways that make things easier to manage your stress, some are more obvious than others and some require more introspection:
Eliminate your stressors
We can define stressors as the things that cause strain or tension. Sometimes these stressors can be obvious; like someone causing you grief at work, or worrying about your kids. Sometimes stress can be less obvious it can be who does the washing up or who puts the clothes away. What I’d like to reinforce is that there is no such thing as a stressor that is bigger or smaller – what it really comes down to is how much control you have over that stressor.
You can’t control other people or other things in your life. You can only control how you respond and what you do.
So the first thing to take stock of is with all of your stressors and write them down. How much of those are in your control?
Can you get away from Angela in work who is constantly throwing you under the bus?
Can I control it?: Not without moving jobs, no.
What can I control?: I can talk to my manager or HR about working with her on the project and be sure that if there are other resources, you can utilise to have a complex conversation.
Example 2: I’m stressed out about always having to cook after work.
Can I control it?: Yes, I could consider food prepping for the week over the weekend so that all I need to do is put things in the microwave. Or I could look into getting food packs delivered with my meals pre prepared for me so I have access to healthy meals regularly.
Something I’d like to bring up is this notion about us having to do everything and the importance of deligation. Some people may think delegating tasks around the home and in your personal life is for the privileged. Yes, this is true to a degree. It takes a certain amount of privilege to get meals ordered in for yourself or to get your clothes sent to the laundrette. But it is something I’d encourage you to look into in your area just to see what they might cost to do.
For example, I’m out in the middle of nowhere in Ireland (I mean comparatively I’ve lived in Irelands capital all my life) and for me to get my meals fully prepared and set to me a week is E48 a week. Which is just under E200 a month. Is that expensive? Yes. But does it give me the ability to not have to worry about standing over my cooker in pain and am ensured a balanced meal? So for me, it’s worth it.
Our local laundrette is an easier example. For a black bin bag – which would be a large bin bag you’d put in the trash outside. It’s E10 a bag for it to be washed and folded. That’s something that could easily be done once a month for my situation.
There are solutions to problems if you can look for them. For instance, a meal in McDonalds for two people would easily be E20. If you do that twice a week you’ve made up the cost of feeding yourself for a week. This doesn’t mean that you stop having your chicken nuggets, but it means that you can use your money to work harder for you to make life easier for you in the long run.
It can also be beneficial to your nearest and dearest, too. Constantly fighting with your partner about who never “does things around the house” without being prompted is a drain and a strain on both of you. Maybe a better compromise for you both is to come up with a solution that helps you both out. In reality, I don’t think anyone enjoys nagging anyone else and equally the person on the receiving end doesn’t either.
There is a lot to be said for why these ideas might not be “good” ideas because it might enable laziness or something else entirely. But I would ask you to check in with yourself about that statement and see where it’s coming from. Is it because it was how they raised you that you either did things all the time, even when you couldn’t really deal with it and your feelings were dismissed? Often, how we judge others is how we ourselves were or are judged.
That on its own is worth observing on its own for the sake of all of your relationships you experience throughout your life.
Cultivate Social Support
Something that I would always advise people to do is to have some social network or network of support around you to help with times like these. Even more important than this though, as this bit is the lynchpin to making this work is articulating the type of support you need.
For example there are various different ways to support someone:
I’m a problem solver, a do-er. If you come to me for advice on something my support language is to provide solutions to problems and be there to walk you through what you’re going through with active listening.
However, there are various other styles of support out there:
I nearly always ask people straight up if I’m unsure of what type of support they need to be direct and ask them “What is the best way I can support you right now? Do you need me to listen and engage with you that way? Or would you like me to provide some other support?”
Yes, it might seem like an uncomfortable interjection when someone is opening up about something but ultimately, it means that I can support their needs best and therefore no one becomes frustrated when there are clear expectations set.
It also enables you when your time comes around to be aware of what needs and support you may require while you’re going through a turbulent time. This may mean that you’re upfront and clear about what you know you need.
“I’m going through a rough time a work at the minute and I could do with someone to just listen to me patiently for a bit while I just get it out of my system. Do you think you’d have time for that?”
For me, it’s always good to set boundaries about how much time you can give to someone especially if you’re feeling frazzled yourself.
So for example:
Person One: “I’m going through a rough time a work at the minute and I could do with someone to just listen to me patiently for a bit while I just get it out of my system. Do you think you’d have time for that?”
Person Two: ” For sure! Just so you know, I already have a previous arrangement made tonight, so I am pushed for time. I’m due to be out from 7pm so you have me until then and if we need to catch up again after that I’d be happy to sort out something with you then.”
There may be some pushback with this initially, especially when you’re setting these boundaries for yourself for the first time. If someone comes back to you negatively there are loving ways of responding to it.
Person One: “Oh forget about it then, you obviously don’t care about me otherwise you’d make time.”
Person Two: “I’m sorry that is how you feel, but I care about you and want to help you. I’m just trying to be honest about where I am with my own time restraints. However, if you feel like tonight would be too short of a time for what you want to talk about, we can always reschedule it to a time that suits us both better. Would you be more comfortable with that?”
It’s important to still enforce your boundaries for your own mental health and stress levels, it’s an important part of managing your overall health.
When in doubt, stretch it out. That can be harder for some people more than others depending on your levels of ability and mobility but I do believe that there is something that nearly everyone can do.
As always you can look at my other article on stretches in my 6 ways to start loving yourself the way you deserve to be loved article.
Reframe your thinking
We talk a lot about reframing your thinking in 6 ways to start loving yourself the way you deserve to be loved specifically around counseling and learning new techniques like CBT. You can get a refresher of the options available to you in the article, but it benefits us all to get a new perspective on things sometimes. Engaging with yourself to learn what are your triggers with stressors and how you deal with them will be invaluable to your tool books for helping you cope with stress and is something I highly recommend for everyone.
YEs, it is hard and often requests some financial commitment, but ultimately it is for your greater good to reframe your life.
In short, you deserve to be tired. You’re battling a lot and it is worth it to make the most of your life with what you have