Burning Out

We all have bad days, even bad weeks. But at what point does it cross over from a bad day to a full on burnout in life? At what point do you accept that this fatigue and apathy is long term and needs to be addressed?

Burnout is not simply a result of long hours or being over worked. It stems from a lack of control in life. Maybe the place that you work is being mismanaged and you are helpless to change it. Maybe you feel your work has no meaning. Maybe you don’t have a hobby or project that brings you joy outside of your work. Maybe you are so focused on helping others that you have no time or energy left for yourself.

I’ve come to realize that I need to be much more focused on myself. I need to prioritize not just taking care of myself but nourishing myself. I need to not only find my boundaries but stick to them. And I need to be more intentional of listening to my instincts. By getting stuck in my routine and focused on the go go go part of life, I wound up incredibly depressed and burnt out.

By the time I realized how burnt out I was, I didn’t just need a break I needed a full life shake up. I was in a job that was demanding and unfulfilling, working for people that are cold and incompetent. I was far more concerned with others needs than I was with my own. And all my free time was spent focused on others. I wasn’t sleeping, my skin was a mess, and the very concept of leaving my house became so overwhelming my whole body would feel like wet sandbags.

I didn’t need a break or a vacation, I needed a complete re-evaluation.

But the real kicker is that there were warning signs that I ignored. Red flag decisions at work that the ship was sinking. Demanding patterns from friendships that I know how to recognize but ignored. Small breakouts in my skin that I know how to deal with but didn’t make the time for.

I was just so stuck in my routine and my think positive attitude that my whole life had to be up in flames before I realized I needed to do something about it.

2019 is my year to focus on me. By the end of last year I was so low, so depressed, so burnt out, I knew I had to finally address it. It hasn’t happened over night but I have already come a long way.

I found a new job. Unfortunately not all work situations can be improved. Sometimes you just have to move on. I’ve learned a lot in my twenties about what I need from my job. And more importantly, I know what I am not looking for anymore. I found the next chapter and am taking all the lessons learned and putting them to good use.

I’m learning to say No. Perhaps my biggest hurdle. I don’t like saying No. I think a part of me has a fundamental belief that a person shouldn’t say No. But I am working on it.

I am working on boundaries. Both personally and professionally. Work-life balance, investing in friendships that are fulfilling and reciprocal and letting one sided friendships go, and listening to my inner voice. She often knows what’s up.

Change is hard. Growing is painful. Depression sucks. And burn out is awful. But all of these things are necessary. All of these things have a light at the end of the tunnel. And all of these things lead to better things. If you let them.

Darci

Don’t Overthink It

Confession: I am a very anxious person. I’m a Type A Overplanner who has back ups for my back ups. I make my bed everyday because a small part of my thinks if I don’t then clearly I will fail at everything that day. My house is always meticulously clean because when I’m stressed or depressed I cope by obsessively cleaning. I spend a lot of my time worrying about what others think of me. My mind is constantly spinning.

And it’s exhausting.

Anxiety is Overthinking’s partner in crime. I overthink things because I am anxious and I’m anxious because I am overthinking everything. It’s a vicious cycle that is hard to break. And what happens when you open up to someone about the things making you anxious: just don’t overthink it!

Google overthinking and you will get endless articles of “10 Ways to Stop Overthinking and Start Living” or “Ways Overthinking is Ruining Your Relationship” or “How to Love an Overthinker”. They break it down in quick sentences and a bullet point list to fix your problems. Just do this! Stop doing that! And the whole problem is now solved.

I hate these articles. If my anxiety could really be fixed by the flip of a switch, a quick daily mantra, or it was just a matter of deciding to not be anxious then I would have fixed myself years ago.

Here’s what I wish people could understand: I don’t want to be like this. Hell, there was probably a time when I wasn’t. But I am. And it’s a learned behavior. It’s my defense mechanism. My anxiety hurts me, sure, but also it protects me. My anxiety protects me from heartbreak and disappointment and abandonment. Sure I could just stop overthinking everything and work on having a positive outlook on life, and I may be happier for it. But it’s just not that simple.

Someone told me recently just to relax, be myself, and don’t overthink it. And I choked back laughter because overthinking is being myself. It’s meant to be a calming piece of advice, a gentle reminder that things aren’t bad so don’t spiral out. But really what I hear is “don’t fuck this up for yourself”.

I’m working on it. Or at least, I am aware of it. I’m trying to find ways to be kinder to myself, to be more positive, to look on the bright side. But anxiety is a part of who I am, and overthinking everything is my core. There is no 10 step process that will snap me out of this, reminding me that my anxiety could ruin my relationships isn’t the tough love talk that’s going to change me. I can’t help the way I think, and I can’t help how much I think. On my best days I redirect my energy into something productive to distract myself. And while I can learn better ways to cope with my anxiety, I am pretty sure it will always be a part of who I am.

And I think that’s the real solution. It’s not about fixing yourself, it’s about accepting yourself. I will probably always be someone with a mind that is constantly spinning, but what I can learn is how to be kinder to myself in the process. How not to be self destructive in the process.

My anxiety isn’t a problem to be “fixed”. It’s a part of who I am that needs to be loved. When I start to overthink and spiral, I don’t need a list of ways to fix myself, I need a hug.

So I’m trying not to get better, I’m working on being kinder to myself, and I am trying to love all of the parts of me. And there are good days and bad days. For the good days we have progress, and for the bad days we have wine.

Darci

5 Things to Stop Caring About

Life can be stressful. Life can be chaotic. Life can be hard. The biggest kicker, though, is that sometimes we make life harder on ourselves. By indulging in negative thoughts or memories, prioritizing toxic people, living in the past, we hurt ourselves in the present and delay our happiness in the future. I’ve been working a lot on reshaping how I spend my mental energy. How I talk to myself. What I am spending my time thinking about. Being intentional about catching myself in a negative spiral and changing the game. It’s not always easy. But it’s important work. I’m trying to retrain my brain to think differently. So this week I thought I would share the five things I am working on changing. Take a look:

1. Those Painfully Awkward Moments.

Remember that joke you made in a meeting that didn’t land? Or that answer you gave in class that was definitely wrong? Or that time you thought someone was waving to you but it was actually to someone behind you? Those painfully awkward little moments that your brain likes to recall as you are falling asleep or enjoying some quiet time and now suddenly your heart is racing. Those social blunders that were embarrassing in the moment but that was seven years ago and no one but you remembers them, let alone dwells on them. Even your bigger blunders are probably still only note worthy to you. It’s time to let those go. When your brain starts to remind you, catch yourself and tell your brain that happened years ago and literally no one cares any more. Take the power away from those awkward moments by reminding yourself that it wasn’t as bad as you remember and it is well in the past now.

2. What People From Your Past Are Doing.

I’ll be the first to admit that Facebook stalking is a semi regular event. Social media makes it all too easy to take a passing “hmm I wonder” and turn it into a two hour rabbit hole investigation of what people from my past have been doing. Ex’s, former friends, old coworkers, past roommates, former classmates, all people who are in my past for a reason. And yet, the curiosity gets the better of me every time. It’s natural, though very unhealthy, to look for validation through comparison. But it’s a temporary, fleeting validation that leaves us emptier than we started. It also distracts the focus on your own life. You don’t need to compare your journey, your goals, your accomplishments to anyone to be happy. And, in fact, doing so is hurting your progress. My suggestion? Block those people you find yourself checking in on. That way the next time you are tempted to see what they are up to, you can’t. Eventually you’ll break the habit of even wondering what those people are up to and you won’t be distracted by it any more.

3. Pleasing Everybody.

It’s a cliched lesson, but I think I will spend the rest of my life relearning it. No matter how hard you try, you will never please everyone. There will always be people who take and take and take but never give. There will always be people who are too wrapped up in themselves not noticed anyone else. There will always be people stuck in the comparison game and they will never be happy for you. It’s time to stop worrying about those people. Your life is yours and you have to live it the way you know is best. So keep focusing on your dreams and your goals, keep treating others the way you want to be treated, and when someone shows resentment or expresses grievance over you simply living your life, you now have permission to involve them in your life less. Making time for people who hurt you regularly or openly root against you is silly. It doesn’t matter if they are coworkers, friends you’ve known for years, family, or even romantic partners. Your time is valuable and your mental well being is important. So stop wasting your time trying to please people who can never be won.

4. The Worst Case Scenario Game.

I’ll be honest, I am a fan of this game. Especially when I have a lot of anxiety about a situation or feel a lot of pressure. Sometimes saying your fear out loud can take some of the power away from it. But too much of anything is a bad thing. And I realized recently that I never play the Best Case Scenario Game. My what ifs are always negative. I’m always preparing for the worst, anticipating the worst, assuming the worst. And not only is that way of thinking depressing and unhealthy, it’s exhausting. I find I am always worried, always anxious, depressed far more often. All because I am far too indulgent in my fears rather than focusing on my hopes. I used to justify this way of thinking by saying “hope for the best, prepare for the worst”. But what if by dwelling so much on the worst I make the worst inevitable? What if by spending more time focusing on the best, preparing for the best, even planning for the best, that made the best happen? So now, when I catch myself playing the Worst Case Scenario Game, I make myself stop and think about what the Best Case Scenario could be instead.

5. Where You Should Be in Life at X Age.

Again, comparison is a dangerous habit that pretty much only leads to depression. Just because you aren’t married yet, don’t have kids, haven’t gotten that degree, don’t have that professional title yet, doesn’t mean you are falling behind or failing. School was very structured, and it gave all of us this false illusion that the rest of life would be too. But there is no order of events, no timeline to follow, no progress report, no big moments you need to hit by a certain time. Plenty of people followed “the plan” of getting married young to someone they weren’t actually compatible with, had kids even though they weren’t ready to be a parent, or worked their way up the ladder for a career they didn’t want. Too many people do what they are “supposed” to do without considering if they want to do it. And too many people feel like they are failing at life because they aren’t doing what they are “supposed” to be doing right now. But the most freeing moment in life is when you realize that you get to call the shots for your life and you get to decide what path is right for you.

Why is it so easy for our brains to think negatively, to be stressed or anxious or overwhelmed, to focus on comparisons or the past, but we doing the opposite takes so much work? I’ve been wondering that a lot lately as I’ve been working on intentionally changing my patterns. When did those patterns form, I wonder. And when will they change? It’s hard work, it’s consistent work, but it’s good work. And hopefully it will stop being work someday and start being a way of life.

Darci

Spring Clean Your Life

Spring is here! I love spring. Longer, warmer days, cherry blossoms, cleaning (ya I know I’m odd), getting outside. This winter was crazy and I actually didn’t mind being cooped up inside but I am ready for the change of the seasons. This is the time of year when we start thinking about refreshing our lives, our home. Spring cleaning is a great way to remind yourself of your New Year’s goals and find renewed energy for them, a great way to intentionally take care of your home and honor the space you live (even if you KonMaried earlier this year), and a great way to harness this new energy into something productive. But spring cleaning doesn’t have to just be about literal cleaning, this is also a great time to refresh your life.

So while you are thinking about spring cleaning your home, starting that garden, and ways to manage your allergies, also think about how you can freshen up your life.

Here are 5 ideas on how to spring clean your life:

Declutter Your Mind

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely an over thinker. Diving into why could be its own blog series. I find it hard to quiet my mind, and I can find decision making exhausting. So I try to find ways to eliminate some decision making. Steve Jobs famously wore the same outfit every day so he wouldn’t be burdened with decisions. Personally, I like picking out my outfit every day, but I love the idea behind it. For me, meal prep became my saving grace. Every Sunday I make a big batch of something (usually stir fry) and some smoothies and have my breakfasts and lunches set up for the week. For me, figuring out what to eat every day is exhausting, so finding a routine that eliminated that work was a huge help. Is there something in your day to day life you could streamline?

Clean Up Your Relationships

All relationships take work, but the good ones will fuel you and support you. Are there people in your life who you are giving time to that are not fulfilling? One sided relationships, toxic people, self involved people, they can all be a real drag on your life. How about yourself? Are you investing the same time you are getting? Take some time to evaluate the people you spend time with and how you could better prioritize your loved ones.

Check Your Attitude

Your mindset is everything, so it’s important to try and have a healthy attitude in life. How do you talk to yourself? Are you kind and patient and gracious? Or are you angry and bullying yourself? What are your expectations in life, and are they reasonable? Your attitude affects every part of your life and influence how you interact with others. Check in with yourself and see how you are reacting to situations and if that could be improved. The best part about an attitude change is that it costs you nothing and can completely transform your life.

Prioritize Self Care

I am all about self care this year. I’m learning to say no to things more (emphasis on learning), I’m indulging in beauty care products like face masks and bath bombs, I’m prioritizing my fitness goals, and it has been amazing. I’m feeling healthier, I’m getting stronger, my skin is looking better, and I have more energy to give to people now. Learning to take care of myself better, finding ways to look forward to taking care of myself, has lead to me being a better friend and partner. I’m don’t need to lean on others so I have more to give. What are ways you can indulge in self care? It could be reading more often, a special treat like tea or chocolate you can enjoy, going to bed earlier, or discovering a new hobby. Find ways to indulge more in you.

Get Outside

I believe being outside is cleansing. Go for a walk every evening, spend your Saturday at the beach or a park, make your backyard an enjoyable sanctuary. Winter is cold and dark and honestly I enjoy it for a short while, but sunshine is magic and we should all be spending more time in it. Refresh your soul with some much needed vitamin d.

What are ways you life to freshen up and spring clean your life?

-Darci

Fearless February

We all know about New Years Resolutions. Maybe you do them, maybe you don’t. Maybe you’ve lost your steam for #NewYearNewYou goals. January is almost over, and maybe you are feeling great about your progress, or maybe you are feeling like you need a little bit more motivation. Or maybe you just feel like it’s time to take a leap of faith on yourself.

And that is where my good friend Dan Cumberland comes in. He is the creative power behind The Meaning Movement, and he is full of motivation and support. That is why he came up with Fearless February.

Fearless February is a social movement helping you face your fears and take personal, meaningful risks in the month of February. You set your own goal, your own challenge, your own meaning; then you share it with the group and we all help motivate and keep each other accountable towards our goals. You commit to your action on something that is scaring you, or holding you back; you get support from like-minded people; and you share your progress with the group.

These can be big goals, these can be little goals.

The website has some great suggestions:
Take a sabbatical, find a mentor, release a podcast, write every day, find my birth mother, ask for a raise, start a non-profit, learn to bake, pitch my idea to my boss, learn to swim, travel somewhere new, apply to 10 jobs, learn how to code, ask her out on a date, start a business, apply to grad school, learn to dance, talk to strangers.

The list goes on and I think it has some great inspirations. The best part is that you set the rules for yourself. I’ve participated in Fearless February a few times. Last year this blog was my FF. A lot of last year was learning to find my voice. This blog was a big part of that. FF was a good motivator to get started in that.

This year I am going to be a little bit more inwardly focused. I love resolutions, I love self reflection, and this year is the year I am finally deciding to commit to myself better. I want to use Fearless February as a way to focus that resolution and make meaningful steps towards my own health. My goal is to get up one hour early every day and spend some time on myself. I can workout, I can do my hair, I can read, I can cook breakfast. My goal is to learn to make my mornings better for me.

Perhaps this sounds small to you. Maybe it is small. Maybe I should be applying to grad school, or learning a new trade, or pushing my creative boundaries more. But this year, I am trying to be much more intentional about working on myself. Looking inward and taking care of my well being. I’m trying to learn to say No more, I’m prioritizing my mental health, and I’m trying to be as good to myself as I am to my friends.

Right now, my mornings are really under utilized. I am not a morning person, comically so, and I will sleep until the absolute last second that I can and then rush through a bare minimum routine to get out the door. And then I spend a lot of my day feeling like I have fallen behind, or that I have so many things to accomplish in the evening that I just spend all day exhausted. My hope is that by spending one hour of my morning working on my personal goals, I will transform my entire day.

They say it takes three weeks to make a habit. So by the end of February, I should have a new morning routine that will set me up for success. Perhaps it will even transform my entire year.

I would like to invite you to join me in Fearless February. What is something that you have always wanted to do, but feel too scared or overwhelmed to do? Is there a change you want to make, but just haven’t found the right motivation yet? Perhaps you also want to start a new habit to better your well being. Or you just like the accountability to keep you on track. Join in with Fearless February and we can all work together!

So, what fear will you face?

 

 

Darci

4 Healthy Habits for the New Year: Feminist Edition

You know the saying: New Year New You! Your social media is probably flooded with New Years resolution articles and goal making ideas and new ways to do this and that and more! And I thought I should add my voice to the noise. But of course over here, it’s not just about dieting or financial planning or hitting your gains goals, it’s about empowering women. So here are four new habits to consider for the new year to make your life more positive AND more feminist!

Tidy Up Together
Have you watched Tidy Up on Netflix yet? Or maybe you read Marie Kondo’s book when it came out a few years ago. I’m obsessed with her. As a Type A over thinker with anxiety, she is like candy to me. I’ve watched each episode and teared up each time. What stands out to me most is how the dynamics of the relationships evolve through each episode. I’ve talked about emotional labor before and how it is drastically imbalanced in relationships. And what I love about this show is how it helps each family discover that together. By tidying up together each family member discovers they can be doing more to create a healthy dynamic. For the women of the household, they realize what a disservice they do for their families by trying to do everything for everyone. And for the men and children, they realize how stepping up and taking responsibility in their home completely transforms your environment. I love cleaning and organizing, it’s my happy place. And I love seeing her tips and tricks at work in real homes. But what I am loving most is how Marie Kondo helps each home so graciously come together. Don’t just purge your wardrobe and make a quick run to Goodwill, find ways to tidy up the emotional labor balance at home.

Stop Saying Sorry So Often
Many women apologize profusely. Society has conditioned women to remain small, quiet, and unobtrusive. And so we apologize when we ask for what we want, we apologize when we stand up for ourselves, and we apologize for what other people do. And we need to stop. Just because society wants us to be small, quiet, and unobtrusive doesn’t mean we should be. Start noting when you are apologizing for things that are beyond your control or not your fault or not actually bothersome and find new ways to respond that don’t involve apologizing. Things like, “Thank you for bringing this to my attention” or “unfortunately I will not be able to attend” or “If I may say…” are all polite ways of communicating without implying that you’ve done anything wrong.

Affirm Things Other Than Beauty
My cousin had her son just over a year ago. And he is the most adorable child I have ever met. He has a belly laugh that will make your heart skip a beat, a smile that will make you melt, and a personality that will have you swooning. It’s hard not to gush over him. But it’s very important to my cousin that she affirms things other than his looks. Every time she catches herself or others (like me) calling him cute or handsome or adorable she starts affirming him in other ways immediately. You are smart, you are kind, you are brave, you are thoughtful. And it’s so powerful. We should all be doing this, because wouldn’t it be wonderful to have your other attributes acknowledged and affirmed? I don’t think there is anything wrong with complimenting an outfit, or hair style, or what not. But it’s so easy to compliment a physical appearance. It’s time to go deeper and affirm each other’s character.

Stop Being So Polite
When you really stop to take stock of it all, women really have been socialized to be societies doormats. And quite frankly it’s not doing society any good. I know I struggle with saying No to people all the time, and I know plenty of other women who feel the same. I have several friends who struggle to turn men down for a date, and I’m constantly asking why (I know why)? You didn’t like him, you aren’t attracted to him, and he annoys you. So why do you feel obligated to continue seeing him? Just say No! But here’s the real quicker, my friend finally does say No and the guy loses his shit. Abusive text messages and bullying, until I finally convince my friend to stop responding and block the guy already, so he goes and finds her on Instagram and continues the charade. All because after one silly coffee date he can’t handle being told No. Society has conditioned girls to be nice to boys, but we never conditioned boys to be nice to girls. So we grow up into women who fear hurting strangers feelings, and men who feel entitled to everyone and everything they come in contact with. So it’s time to break the cycle. It will be ugly at first. But after a while maybe men will realize that it doesn’t kill them to be told No and life really does go on.

Resolutions can be very self involved. In fact they are mostly meant to be self involved. And self involvement can be good, until it turns into self absorption. So while you focus on New Year New You, maybe fine one way to be better to the people you interact with each day. Don’t just put effort into yourself, put effort into your community.

-Darci

Why Can’t I Say No?

I can’t say no to things. I’ve always been that way. There are lots of things I want to do. I want to go to all of my friends social events, I want to host my own, I want to help with projects, I want to take on more responsibility at work, I want to help my coworkers succeed, I want to travel near and far, I want to see movies and plays and read books and take a class. But most importantly, I just want to be there for everyone.

I used to think people that struggled with going out and doing things were introverts, and since I am an extrovert I will never struggle with keeping up with everything. I would be fueled by it. But about two years ago I started feeling, to put it simply, tired. I had been seeing my partner for several months at this point, and I was trying to see him as often as I could and go have as much fun with him as possible. I was also trying to keep up with my single girl social life and give everything I was giving before to my girl friends. I started a new job that was much more fast paced than anything I had experienced before and had a steep learning curve. I was burning out and I didn’t even realize it.

It was a weekend in Vegas that did me in. Two nights in Vegas doing the Vegas thing, and a few days later I am sitting on my partners bed crying. And I have no idea why I am crying. I just know that I am crying and I don’t know how to stop it. My partner very tenderly looked me in the eye and said, very simply, “You’re tired”. And it all just clicked.

I was trying to do everything and be everything for every one. Turns out I can do that for six months before a mental breakdown. And I have spent the last two years trying to figure out how to say no to things more often. I plan nothing weekends. Literally plan. It goes on the calendar. No plans are allowed this weekend. And I do my best to not even leave my home the whole weekend. I try to keep at least one evening during the week where I come home and do nothing. No gym, no social events, no counseling. Just come home. I do my best to keep these nothing plans, but to be honest, more often than not, I cave and say yes to something.

It’s been a hard balance to strike. One that I am still working hard to figure out. I feel very fortunate to have a very supportive partner and very supportive friends. When I start to double book myself, my partner will remind me that is our nothing evening, and encourage me to honor that plan. Others in my life haven’t been as gracious in supporting my need to say no from time to time, making that balance harder to find. I realized I tend to give soft No’s, rather than hard No’s. And there are definitely people in my life who challenge my soft No’s, and once challenged I usually end up saying an unenthusiastic yes.

For such a tiny word, No looms larger in our consciousness. We don’t like saying it, we don’t like hearing it. But it is such an important boundary we must learn to wield.

So why don’t we say no? 

We have plenty of reasons not to say No. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, we don’t like confrontation, we want to be polite and helpful, we actually want to be able to say yes. And so we say yes, and almost instantly we regret it.

So why do we keep saying Yes when we really want to say No?

-You follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others. You give and give and give, and agree to everything, because if the situation were reversed you would want them to do the same.

-You’re a person of your word. You said yes, so you’re going to do it. You’d rather put yourself out than be flaky.

-You’re a caregiver-type. People always come to you with their fires, and you want to take care of them.

-You fear the conflict it will create. You don’t want to upset the people you care about, you don’t want to face a guilt trip, you don’t want to deal with an argument.

-You fear that you will lose that person if you say No. You don’t want to face their wrath or abandonment.

Do any of these sound familiar? Do all of these sound familiar? 

When we are in a vulnerable position, put on the spot, face to face with someone else, we often fail to be straightforward about our personal boundaries. We jump into fix-it mode, we do everything we can to appease the person and smooth things over. We often don’t set boundaries and let people do things that are not okay and then we become resentful. We associate boundaries with being rude or pushy. But being compassionate doesn’t mean being a pushover or a doormat for other people.

It boils down to setting a personal policy, implementing it, and communicating it to others. Setting boundaries that uphold your values and allow you to practice self-care is a self-compassionate act. The alternative is resentment and unstable relationships. When we have poor boundaries we overextend ourselves and allow people to keep taking from us with no respect for our own well being. Poor boundaries teaches others to disrespect you. Love and respect begin with self-love and self-respect.

A big lesson I have learned is that if telling someone No creates conflict, that is not my problem but theirs. If setting a simple and reasonable boundary leads to tension and escalation, I have found all the more reason to say No. I’m realizing I have spent most of my life feeling like I couldn’t say No without conflict, and how harmful that has been to my well being for decades now.

But more so than that, I have learned that the people who value and respect me, encourage my No. If I need to change plans or say No altogether, I am met with kindness and understanding. And the more intentional I am about my relationships, the more fulfilling they are. When I focus on people who treat me the way I want to be treated, I find I am less drained and that there is a lot less conflict in my life.

My theme for 2019 is Love Better. And part of that is going to be saying No more often.

 

-Darci