Life is challenging and definitely brings its share of ups and downs. Being flexible and meeting forever growing external demands can be taxing. But to what extent should we let this go on for?
The more you do at work and the more they demand from you?
By the time you have attended to all the needs of those in your family, you're too exhausted for yourself?
Doing something for yourself means that you do a housework chore on your own?
Any of those questions ring true to you?
Then chances are, yes, you are going over and beyond your personal boundary.
"But I need to put the hard yard at work to meet expectations or risk losing my job!". Remember, the more you give, the more you push the limit-line just a tad further. This then becomes the "new" baseline and everyone, including you, will not be satisfied if you perform below this line; you would then be deemed to be under-performing. How many times have you, or heard of someone, that quit their work to find out that the old boss had to hire two new staff members to replace you? Everyone else saw that the job was too much.
Your overall behaviour, general outlook on life or even simple moments of enjoyment will speak the word "ENOUGH!" And louder than you may wish admit at the time. It will be spoken through your cranky mood, lack of patience, your sleep difficulties, inability to wholesomely enjoy the little moments... your mind will be busy elsewhere, running around in circles. Your weight will become an issue whether it falls or you pile it on. Feeling refreshed will be something of the past, or very short lived and not appreciated.
Setting boundaries. Easier said than done, isn't it? The theory is good. Makes for great buzzwords too. When we don't pay attention to ourselves, don't listen and push just a tad further, our body gets louder and louder at screaming for us to stop and take notice. Unfortunately for some, this may also come in the form of sudden ill health, for example. The diagnosis that keeps you seated in your chair, stunned, and now having no other choice than to start paying attention for real. And taking action. With or without your consent. These are the strokes, cancers, broken relationships, sudden departure of a loved one, heart attacks, depression... and yes, burnout.
What will it take for you to stop? To value yourself? Do you pay more attention to your mobile battery than your own wellbeing? Do you charge it more often than you recharge your own internal batteries? Are you not worth more than your phone plan?
If you recognise yourself, you may wonder "Where to begin? I'm even too exhausted to add anything else on to my day!" Start by being present in the moments that matter most to you:
Waking up - before you open your eyes, take a few minutes to wake up properly. Feel your sheet on your body, the warmth of your bed or your partner. Listen to your breathing, or that of your partner's, or the birds chirping outside.
Mealtime - take your time, chew your food, talk with those around you, raise your head from your plate and look at them during the conversation. Stay seated a few more minutes after you have finished.
Toilet breaks - at some point, you will have to go! The door will be shut to the outside outside world and it can wait (unless you have small kids, true... and they will find you pretty quick!). Close your eyes and listen to the noises around you, or take your time washing your hands: smell the soap as you lather, feel the water as you rinse or the towel as you dry.
Go outside - look at the sky, trees, plants, wildlife, etc. Try to make time to go for a walk. If you can't, make yourself get out during your lunch break or volunteer to run an errand. And take an extra minute or two for you whilst doing it. You don't have to walk fast everywhere.
Devices - switch them off. Or at least put them away somewhere for an hour or two so you don't waste time looking at them. Don't worry, the same people will be flaunting it or complaining about it on Facebook or Instagram. They will post again soon enough.
Bedtime - turn the light off, close your eyes and review your day. Pick between 5-7 things you were grateful for during that day. Some days will be challenging. You may be scratching at the bits and be grateful for the extra two minutes you took to run that errand. But acknowledge it. Zone in and pick out today's best. Consider those that matters most in your life. Where did they feature in your today?
These are simple tips. Develop your own list beyond these simple six.
Slowly, you will find that you will also start listening to your own self. You will take notice. You will slow down. You will start to ground yourself. You will start plugging yourself back in. To the source of what matters. You.
How long did you take to read this? 5 minutes? 10 minutes?
See, you have already started taking time for yourself.
You've got this.
Beyond Words Counselling