A few years ago I was going through a breakup which led me to focus my energies on other things to distract me. I was running more, writing more and making an effort to meet with friends on a regular basis. These were all healthy distractions for me. I did develop one unhealthy distraction though which was overworking myself.
It started with saying “yes” to everything and everyone at work. If someone needed help, I’d say I was available even if that meant working much later. If there were office activities I always attended, if someone was going on vacation I’d offer to respond to their out of office emails. At first I really thought that I was doing the right thing and that nothing negative could come from working extra hard. But when leaving the office at 8pm became my norm, I really began to feel out of sorts. I was exhausted, burnt out and could hardly focus on anything.
I started to have nightmares about my job practically every night. I was answering emails on weekends. I even worked through the flu at one point. I kept on pushing myself and not feeling like all the work was appreciated what so ever, it just became expected of me.
My healthy distraction became unhealthy for me rather quickly and I knew I had to make a change. I began to let things go little by little. I also actively pursued other job opportunities and soon I was at a new company where I was happy and respected.
Maybe you’ve been in a similar situation. You have a ton to do on a tight deadline and there are expectations to meet, but your mind refuses to cooperate with you because you have overdone it. You can either indulge a sense of panic about the things you’re not getting done. Or you can remove yourself from the situation and do what is best for your wellbeing. This could mean taking a break, meditating, going on a walk or venting to a friend. It could also mean making a drastic change in your life and switching careers but that doesn’t guarantee you won’t fall back into your same cycle. We must learn to continuously allow ourselves to just be, and cut ourselves some slack in order to not burn out.
Everyone has responsibilities and goals, and we want to keep up a sense of momentum with them until we reach completion. To keep working away at a goal makes us feel productive and feeling productive makes us feel accomplished. But this doesn’t necessarily make us happy. Our happiness has less to do with how fast we complete a task and more to do with how well we treat ourselves through the process.
Simply let yourself be. Put your wellbeing first because if you aren’t okay, you will get in your own way and make that to-do list seem never ending.