When You Get Worn Out
People get worn out. Stress does it. Overwork does it. Worry does it. Getting sick does it. It just happens. The key, though, is to figure out that you are worn out and then, if you can, do something about it.
If the course of your life is constantly and consistently an upward trajectory, then natural law says what goes up must come down. All it took was an apple falling on his head, and Newton figured that out. Or so the stories go.
Whether it is stress, overwork, or worry, they all can be evident in the upward trajectory of someone’s life. Many people combat these stress-filled moments by trying to balance the scales quickly by doing something that might give them a momentary kick in the pants. Like having a cigarette, having a drink, or eating something full of calories. Chocolate comes to mind. Or there are drugs, but I’m not going to mention those because I feel my audience doesn’t do those things. Am I right?
Nature has a handy dandy solution to anything that stresses you out. You will get sick. Or you will have a breakdown. Or you will become the crankiest person in sight. Or, God forbid, you will have an accident. That’s just the way nature takes care of it.
It sounds like having a couple of long-term stress relievers up your sleeve might be a good thing. The best thing, in my opinion, is to do some introspective work on yourself and try to get an answer to why you are allowing yourself to be driven towards an untenable precipice. This would be your journal. For Your Eyes Only. You don’t have to have a lock and key for it. It’s just yours, and it is private. Hide it under the mattress if you want to. Or open up a blank word document and have at it. You don’t even have to save it. Just delete the whole page when you are done. It is important to ask yourself hard questions and allow yourself to answer them honestly. In my own experience, one question ravels off in many directions. You may not ever think you are getting close to the answer, but you will relieve the pressure on this nasty boil in your life.
I am not buying the idea that saying, “That’s just the way it is.” Or “That’s life. Times are tough.” Times will always be tough, and if that’s the way it is, maybe that’s your view of the universe, but other people can see the glass half full rather than half empty.
So, here is an example for you. The question is, “Why do I feel so bad?” Here is a possible answer, “I don’t know.”
This is progress. In comes the next question, “Why do you think you feel so bad?” And a possible answer is, “I don’t know.”
Fine. This might not look like progress, but bear with me on this. There is an answer. “There must be a reason. Why don’t you just make something up?” An answer, “Okay, my boss is horrible.”
“Oh, tell me more,” You say, “Everything I do, she says, is not right. It doesn’t matter what I do. Even the way I am clocking in is wrong. I feel really bad about this.”
“Is this happening to other people too?” You say, “Yes, it is. None of us know what is going on.”
“Then, something is going on with your boss. She might be having health issues. She might be under additional stress from her bosses. Maybe something is going on with her personal life. Maybe, just maybe, there is something you could do to help her. Rather than acting like the injured party, why don’t you put on a different hat? A hat that sees her as a human being who might be having a problem.”
You mull that over some. Now, have a look at these voices in your head; the ones that pose all these questions. That was you. That voice was your voice. Sometimes people call it your inner voice. This part of you does know all the answers. It might not tell you the direct answer to something, but it will do a good job of leading you away from the brick wall you’ve been staring at and suggesting alternate ways of thinking about something.
Sometimes I just don’t want to do the introspective work that will ease my stress. That is when I have backup plans I can turn to. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of writing on several fronts. I am trying to finish a book for young people looking for work. This is the third book in a series. So, I’m trying to finish the third book, pop another 17,000 words into the second book, and polish up the first one. All three books need attention and need to be finished. I need to find snappy titles for them, nice covers for them, and get them on the market.
This is proving stressful for me. The idea occurred to me yesterday as winter sets in my husband could use a pair of fingerless gloves. I began these gloves for him last winter, and they should be finished so he can use them this season. I love to crochet. This will be a fun thing for me to do. It is not going to answer the question of why I feel so pressured right now but will go a long way toward alleviating the stress.
I know I will finish these books. It is just going to take some time. Wish me luck.
So, consider asking yourself whatever questions are appropriate for you. Consider going into therapy for a little while. Sometimes people who are not so close to your life can draw you out and help to alleviate whatever it is that might be bothering you.
See, the thing is, we are never done growing emotionally. A therapist will be able to accompany you for a little way on this journey. What a therapist does is give you some tools, like journaling or crochet, or even a walk in your neighborhood that will help you cope with stress. You are strong enough to conquer your stress and make a good life for yourself. But, like Newton’s apple, this will all move in the opposite direction someday again. That’s when you go back to your tried and tested tools, or you make another appointment with your therapist.
So, it’s not a hopeless tangle of searching for answers, it is just another step in the right direction. Celebrate moments of life in your life, even if they are small ones. Doing that will help you to get up off of the couch and get moving again.