Exhaustion is overrated.
I had a week that entailed getting so much accomplished and working so hard that by 7 AM last Friday morning, I felt empty. I felt like I had nothing left to give. Yet, like for many of us, the 7 AM-8 AM hour is one of the most important hours in the day. Not only is there so much to get done during this hour but it sets the tone for our day. Not only did I have to finish getting ready for work, but I needed to assist my son with getting ready for school, make sure he had breakfast, and get us to work and school on time. By the time I made it to work, I felt like all of the motivating, encouraging, replenishing, optimistic, and productive juice I am known for having and known for pouring into others had been sucked dry. By 8:15, I decided that the only person who could turn my day around was me. Just like that, I did; I turned my day around with an initial thought. Well, kinda.
Of course, that thought led to many actions involving goal setting, mindset shifting, and self-talk; these actions made all of the difference. However, it started with that one thought at 8:15. I have had enough mornings like Friday to know that I could mope around for the day feeling down, dejected, tired, uninspired, and wishing the day away while watching the clock, or I could simply recognize that the tasks on my to-do list needed to get done but changing my perspective and attacking the list would help significantly. At 8:15, almost precisely, I decided to grab a post-it, make a comprehensive to-do list, compare it with my planner, add all of the tasks I had in my head that had not made it into my planner, and prioritize them. Then, I walked away from my desk, went and made myself some coffee, and decided to make some stuff shake for the day!
However, it was also at this moment that I decided I would need to make a conscious effort throughout the day to have the “get it done” mindset. I knew having this mindset at 8:15 did not mean it would remain at 10:15 or 1:15. I made a conscious effort to say to myself, “a busy day does not mean it has to be a bad day.” I made a conscious effort to say, “being superwoman is overrated.” I made a conscious effort to say, “I got this!” I made a conscious effort to stay on track and to tackle each task one-by-one rather than multi-tasking throughout the day. I made a conscious effort to skip my regular lunch time and work through it. [Yikes, I know. BUT, I ate lunch at 2:30 and was able to order chicken and shrimp hibachi, one of my favorite meals.] I write all of this to say, the power was not in the thought itself at 8:15. That initial thought just kick-started the process. It helped me to change my perspective, to switch gears, if you will. It helped me to switch from my ‘be superwoman’ to my ‘be a super woman’ mentality.
After this shift, there were many subsequent decisions that I had to make to stay the course. I had to speak positively over myself. I had to refrain from small talk conversations during the day. I had to rejoice each time I marked through an item on the post-it, no matter how trivial the task was. By the end of the workday at 2 PM, an early ending for me, I had all but one item marked off my list. I reminded myself this one item did not need to get done that day. I had to let the voice telling me I needed to get everything done before leaving, go. The voice was my perfectionism creeping its ugly face into my space, yet again. I recognized it.
However, I also had to put some things in place to help me replenish, regroup, and re-strategize for the days ahead. The goal-setting, mindset shifting, and self-talk helped me make it through the day but I needed a wellness plan. After all, there is nothing attractive about being exhausted, overwhelmed, uninspired, empty, and sucked dry. Nothing. I decided despite what I thought needed to get done over the weekend, I was more important than any of those tasks and the people who I love were more important, too! I decided to take a full 48 hours off. I decided to eat my favorite foods all weekend. I decided to take a trip to Durham to see some women who are dear to me (even though the night before I was pretty certain I would back out). I decided to spend Saturday as a family day. I decided, last minute on Saturday evening, to spend time with my best friends. I decided to have one-on-one time with husband and then with my son. You notice a theme? I decided to fill up on love, fun, rest, laughter, and overall good times.
Now, as I sit here typing this, it is Sunday. I have a new to-do list. My laundry baskets are overflowing…and I do mean, overflowing. Grocery shopping, and several other tasks for the week, remain unchecked on my to-do list. However, my spirit is content. I am joyful. I feel prepared to face this week. I know you and I may face a day like last Friday any day this week. It is my hope that we will both be ready. I am ready to control my thinking, engage in positive self-talk, set reasonable goals, and adjust my perspective. Are you? I got this! You got this! We got this! This is anything you want it to be, as long as you are ready to tackle your thoughts, actions, and self-talk. I think you will feel much better after you do!
I encourage you to recite this quote, from an unknown source, I found circulating on social media to yourself: “I am tired of romanticizing overexertion. Exhausted is not the new chic, coffee (though a delicious necessity) is not a food group, and running on fumes is not admirable. Why do [I] hold pedestals for sleepless nights, break downs and inner turmoil? Are those things really to aspire to? Self-care, balance, the ability to know when [my] body, mind, and spirit need to take a step back. Those are things [I] should admire. [I] have to stop blurring the line between ‘commitment’ and self-endangerment. Because too many people are burning out before they have a chance to truly shine.” If you need assistance addressing a lifestyle characterized by exhaustion, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Take care, of you!
Yours candidly, Candice