Extracts from this article were originaly published in "Minutehack"
Are you knackered??
I have a huge sense of duty. I commute to work - often between a 1.5 - 3 hour journey depending on client venue, I try to keep regular contact with my family, I struggle with "switching off" completely at home (when you write, you sometimes need to just write...no matter what the time is!), and I have what I hope my husband would also call a "healthy marriage"...and a dog (if one were to add children, or perhaps carer responsibilities into the mix I can see how the workload would triple).
Does this sound familiar?
- You come home from work and can't seem to bring yourself to do anything because you're tired
- You feel like life is somehow passing you by, but put it down to age and responsibility
- You turn down invitations from friends because you just can't make the effort
- You "negotiate" things to do ie. if I see x then, I can pick up my shopping and also collect y...
- You question - will doing z be extra hassle (undefined)?
...thus started my downward spiral.
It wasn't a clinically problematic one, more a sense of exhaustion which seems to lead to fewer nights out, fewer invitations, and even less energy...and this is someone who loves their job!
My journey to staying out last weekend with my BFF until the club closed, followed by taking myself on a date to the theatre, while managing to see another friend for lunch - and not letting a single one of my responsibilities slide...in fact having more energy to engage with them is too long for this post - but here are the highlights:
1. Be discerning with the responsibilities you DO take on. I used to produce full scale shows, which I enjoyed, but the effort of driving an hour to rehearsals (convenience for the cast) was taking its toll - no matter how much I loved the outcome. I reduced it to a small play, rehearsed locally, and this year I'm hosting a concert instead...the standard has been retained, but my time in, reward out is much more in my favour.
2. Be discerning with the people you spend time with. Emotional vampires, toxic friends - whatever you want to call them...being with some people is like catching a mental cold. It takes a few days to recover. Work out who they are and where possible, reduce the amount of time spent...it's your choice (and if there aren't family ties entwined which is trickier - it's often because we might be people pleasing/have a need to be needed...and only we can change that mindset...please see my article about coaching, expecially if you feel that might help address it!)
3. A tiny extra effort to do something that energises you sustains you ten-fold during the responsibilities you have. For me it could be coffee with a friend, actually using my theatre tokens to see something - by myself, walking the dog - and often stopping to journal in a new environment...it doesn't have to be expensive. For example, if you like art - draw...it doesn't have to be a masterpiece!
4. Focus on what you have. The simple act of gratitude practised regularly not only makes you feel positive, but also helps you to work out what is truly important...the things, people and circumstances you think about.
Do a Self-Care Audit
- Really think about your priorities and goals - when you have a clear focus, you know what a positive use of your time is.
- Get a handle on "housekeeping" such as financial committments and budget - it's easier to get creative when you know exactly what you are dealing with (going into more debt will not solve problems long term, even if it makes you feel better "right now")
- If you aren't feeling fulfilled - identify the areas which are lacking, and take active steps (even if they are tiny) to give them some TLC. Look into that course you always wanted to do for example.
- Make sure you are also physically healthy - it's all very well working on emotional health, but don't let aches and pains get the better of you.
Ultimately, I have (slowly) come to recognise that when I make time for the things and the people I love I am re-energised to tackle the things that are my duty (as much as I enjoy those - they aren't a free holiday or anything!) So make sure, even if it's as small as taking a moment to reflect on what you love in your life, or cuddling your pet, or saying "You know what, I really love you" to the special person in your life...and to yourself in the mirror(!), that you do something every day that makes you feel loved - for you. ...and before you know it, you'll be pulling an all nighter with a bestie aged 44!
Audrey is a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), and the author of "The Leader's Guide to Mindfulness" (2018) and "Be A Great Manager - Now" (2016) She is a CPD Accredited speaker, trainer, and qualified FIRO-B and NLP Practitioner. She is the founding Development Coach and Training Consultant with her training consultancy CLICK Training, and the resident psychologist on The Chrissy B Show (Sky191), the UK's only TV programme dedicated to mental health and wellbeing. She consults, coaches and often presents at National and International conferences in the fields of leadership and team cohesion, as well as being part of the Amity University conference panel. She currently lectures in Personal Development and Mindfulness and provides psychological consultancy in these areas to organisations.