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Why Are You Stressing?: Embracing Balance and Rest in a Busy World

Why are You Stressing?

The other week, I felt overwhelmed. I was at my capacity and felt like I was burning the candle from both ends. I do my best to keep balance in my life, but for some reason, I couldn't find my rhythm. I had little energy to give to anything outside of my 9-5 job.

After a few days of feeling like this, I reflected on my actions: I felt stressed out because I had a lot to do and not enough time to do it. I was organizing several events and preparing documents that needed to be in place while I was out of the office. My plate was full and I was tired.

When I took a deeper look at it all, the root was my desire for things to be perfect and the anxiety that comes with planning. The anxiety of ensuring things go well sent me into overdrive, overanalyzing minor details and spending much longer on things that generally wouldn't take much time. At the end of my reflection, I came out with a better perspective on how to view the stress I was experiencing and practical ways to move through it differently. If you find yourself becoming overworked and burnt out it may be time to take a closer look. I took lessons from my reflections to reframe my mindset during stressful times. I hope this serves you as well as it has done for me.

Control What You Can Control.

Control what you can control is cliché but it is the truth. When I played football, my coaches always said this when referring to doing your job and focusing on your assignments. That was an easy concept for me to remember as an athlete because the sport was so physical. Fast forward to everyday life off the gridiron and that concept is not so simple. Real responsibilities can seem daunting, but let it go if it is outside your control. Ask yourself: Did I do all that I was supposed to do for (insert responsibility) to be a success? Did I prepare and communicate my plans thoroughly to those involved? If you can answer these questions with a YES, let it go!

Be Like Peanut Butter.

I love a good peanut butter sandwich (I like it best with bananas and honey). One thing I know is that when you spread the peanut butter over the bread, it is much easier to eat the sandwich rather than clumping it on. It's the same thing whenever we try to build Rome in a day. Don't get me wrong -- the effort in attempting to accomplish a million things in one day is admirable, but the thought that you can do all of them well in a day is delusional. I reflect on how overwhelmed and drained I felt at the end of my days during that week. I was doing too much. There were some things that I could have gone without doing. Slowing down and prioritizing gives you a better chance to show up to your work in a healthier way and makes tasks more manageable. Slowing down got me to acknowledge my experience in the first place. Amid the busyness, remember to recognize your efforts. Spreading things out makes the experience more enjoyable. 

No Limits.

While the idea of no limits is great for not limiting your vision, the phrase doesn't pertain to your capacity. You have limits, I have limits, we all have limits because we are human beings, not human "doings." Our value isn't based on how much we can overextend ourselves. If you continuously override your capacity, you will crash in one way or another. When your plate is full, remember saying no to more responsibilities is okay. Your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being is priority number one. "No" is a complete sentence.

Rest is the Key

In 2023, I read a transformative book entitled "Rest is Resistance" by Tricia Hersey. It changed how I saw rest and, more importantly, my relationship with "grind culture." As a recovering grinder—and I use the term recovering loosely—this book exposed me to practical ways to find rest and the psychological impact of capitalism. Seeing rest as a form of resistance means seeing yourself as a human first and ensuring you make time to live. Rest doesn't mean only sleeping (although that's a great start). That could be going on a walk and listening to the sounds of nature, exercising or moving your body, cooking or sharing your favorite meal with loved ones, journaling, meditating, or just being still and observing. That might even mean using your lunch break to take a nap. When you realize all the rules are made up, you can start designing your life to fit you naturally. No one can always be productive; we all need time just to be. That's what rest is all about. Tricia Hersey states it well, "Rest is anything that connects your mind and body." I believe in the value of hard work, but it's irrelevant if you don't make time to rest. 

Can I Be Real for a Second?

No matter how much your company says they care about you (and some genuinely mean it), they would have to fill your position within months if you left this world today. If you are a business owner with employees and you passed away today, someone would put together a plan to take over your business or find someone else new to work for. I don't say this to minimize your impact but to offer perspective on what truly matters. Our work within our industries is important and does matter, but this will all end one day. In the grand scheme of things, the work we lose sleep, stress over, and neglect our health for will move on without us. Your wellness is too great of a sacrifice. So, during this Mental Health Awareness Month, please take action to prioritize your mental health and humanity. Don't let your job, business, or anything in between stress you to the point that you forget the beauty of being alive.

Additional Resources:

Learn more about symptoms of workplace trauma here.

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