It was shortly after I became fully vaccinated (and was oh so grateful for that), that I began to relapse into some old behaviors that never lead to good mental health. Specifically, becoming OBSESSED with productivity and putting way too many things on my to-do list.
It was like once I was vaccinated I realized all the time we won’t be getting back. But instead of starting to process that in a healthy way and grieve what was lost, my brain felt like all the things had just been on pause and now, if I could just move at double speed, I could catch up and make everything ok again. I began desperately trying to shove two years into one.
Needless to say, it did not go well. At one point I found myself playing a barre workout on my phone with the music and instructions on mute so I could catch up on a podcast on another device all while supervising my child’s lunch and using the workout “water breaks” to stir the dinner I had been prepping. It was highly unsustainable and led to me feeling exhausted and burnt out.
The burnout showed up in me getting angry faster, having much less patience, and feeling like things that usually bring me joy were actually just another item on the to-do list. Then it spiraled into depression and questioning many many life choices (actually, a lot of that was tied to buying our new house, but since that was something going on during this time and something we thought we would be doing a year earlier, it feel into this ‘things I had to catch up on’ problem), it just led nowhere good.
It didn’t make the grief that was waiting on the other side easier to deal with. It didn’t actually help me get that much more done. It isn’t the way I want to live.
Thankfully, I caught myself. I realized this is the same problem I had before, but I caught it faster than I have in the past.
I decided to go back to my powersheets and look at what really fills me up and makes me happy, what my main goals for the year truly are, and reminded myself what happens when I try to do it all- I don’t do any of it well.
When I sacrifice my peace and health, everything else starts to crumble.
When I try to fill my emotional discomfort with outside achievements I am only making the inevitable feeling of those emotions more difficult.
I also told my husband and close friends about my struggle with this so I had a little accountability with slowing down.
I don’t think I will every stop struggling with the balance of my inner drive to achieve and my deep longing to find peace and just be. I am working every day on feeling “enough” and believing that people will still love me even if I don’t constantly “get it done” on all fronts. It is so easy to slip into the need to have that outside validation and praise, but I am trying to celebrate the progress in how I brought myself out of that spiral and can recognize the struggle now far more easily than I could in the past. Little by little, right?
I’m still fairly triggered when I think about the losses big and small from 2020. And I’m nervous about what comes next with the school year starting and the new variants seeming to impact kids more. However, I’ve done a lot of moving through big emotions (literally- I have logged a lot of miles between hiking and running…) and a lot of writing both publicly and privately about it and that has helped me begin to figure out how to take the next step and stop the crazy spirals that pop up of unhealthy multitasking.
I know I’m not the only one struggling with what comes next. What do you do when you catch yourself relapsing into unhealthy behaviors?