I’m officially back! And I’d love to say better than ever, but that would be a lie. The reality is, I still feel like better is pretty far away.
I have spent the past few weeks in survival mode. When working fifty-hour work weeks, attempting to manage a full course load, and stay on top of my business, I often felt as though I was drowning. Sure, I did most of it, but none of it was done without very little sleep and very high levels of anxiety. So, I did what I could… which meant I simply survived. I prioritized my safety and allowed myself to show up as best as I could, even if that meant not showing up for some things at all. As a perfectionist, I can say this was painfully difficult… but entirely necessary.
I think the most upsetting part, however, is that this has become the reality for the majority of us. We are struggling, completely depleted, but have no other option but to show up. And it’s really fucking hard … and unfair.
Human beings are not designed to be in survival mode 24/7. It is dangerous. Hustle culture promotes the idea that we should be doing it all, but at what expense? For you to become a shell of the person you once were. No. That is too high a price to ask.
This post is dedicated to you. For you to finally transition out of these nonstop periods of survival and transition into an existence that experiences pleasure, rest, and replenishment. This is not to say all stress will disappear. That is not reasonable. But maybe this will be the beginning of you determining what is actually worth stressing over.
I can give you a list of actions to take that will help you address this, but I have a feeling you already know them. So, instead, I want to inspire you to begin challenging your mindset. This is going to be hard and it is going to be worth it.
First, recognize the facts. In regard to work, you are only required to work your scheduled hours. If you are not being paid, you should not be working. In fact, if it is illegal for a company to demand you work beyond your schedule hours without proper compensation… so I am assuming, this is a pressure you may be adding to yourself.
And I am nearly positive, that if you are working well past your hours, then you are neglecting to use your time off. Vacation time, sick days, and lunch breaks are there for a reason… for you to take time to rest. You do not need an explanation or to punish yourself with the constant feeling of guilt. These days are set in place from the very beginning of a position and you are entitled to use them. Without explanation and without concern. Think of it this way, if you are truly concerned with getting work done, imagine how much work you may get done in those eight hours if you truly capitalize on your rest time? I guarantee your productivity will increase.
Second, create a reasonable solution. Managing a full-time work schedule is a lot. If you are feeling an increased amount of responsibilities or stress, give yourself permission to let go of what is not necessary. We need to release the notion of balance, and to do so, we must compromise.
If you are working forty-hours, managing school or a family or something else on top of it, it is okay to do things that will make life easier, rather than balanced. This might mean putting the gym aside for a few weeks or having sandwiches or takeout for dinner instead of creating a beautiful, healthy meal. Set strict boundaries with work and technology and have a friend that can hold you accountable. Do not worry about cleaning that bathroom this evening. It means releasing things that are not necessary and incorporating things that support you in this moment of time.
Third, get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Hustle culture is something we have been conditioned to believe for our entire lives. This means, that one extra bath or one less perfectly prepped meal is not going to cure the anxiety this will inspire. It is okay if your heart feels like it is going to beat out of your chest. It is okay if your thoughts are racing. You will be okay. And how do I know this, you might ask. I know this because YOUR WORTH IS NOT DEPENDENT ON YOUR PRODUCTIVITY.
Over time, it gets easier. I am not just asking you to commit to these actions, but to yourself. I am still actively practicing this, but as a perfectionist who once stayed up until 2 in the morning to ensure everything was done and done perfectly, who now sleeps soundly at 8 pm regardless of what I did or did not do, I know progress is possible. You can do this and deserve to.