Welcome to back to what I like to call the real ‘new year’. I’m sorry, you can’t take me to school every September and have me not have every bone in my body not call that a NEW year. I’m not Jewish, but I think the Jewish faith has it right by celebrating their new year (Rosh Hashana) around this time of year. New years provide opportunities for reflection and goal setting.
I also just came back from a true vacation (you can read a bit more about what prompted that trip here on my Instagram) where I finally had some rest and reflection myself. We’re coming into a new age of appreciating rest, reflection and relaxations as absolute imperatives towards a happy and life and personal success. New research on sleep, meditation, and taking breaks makes it almost impossible to ignore the facts: you rest–or you burn out. And burning out sucks.
I don’t think I’ve written about my almost breakdown because I was afraid you’d all judge me for it. Now that I’ve been on the other side for so long, pretty healthy, I think my experience is exactly the thing you need to be reading and hearing because a) it informs so much of my work and b) maybe you’ll start to see that you’re not so different.
Hands up if you’re the person in your group that can ‘do it all’?
Hands up if you’re the person who loves to ‘multi-task’?
Hands up if you take pride in never saying no AND NAILING it in the end?
This was me. For a long time. I have always been complimented on my work ethic. Bosses, teachers, family members and friends would always comment on my work ethic and would say things like “if you can’t do it, no one can!’ And I believed them. I was that person. When I think back to how much I’d work it was a lot. Because here’s the thing–I was a teacher for 10 years and if you wanted to work 24 hours a day–you totally could.
From the time I started working, I’d take my work home and stay up to 10 making the BEST lesson plan or creating a new program. Didn’t have enough going on at work? I’d sign up for a course, professional development or a create a new club at school. Not enough? I’d sign up for 5Ks and 10Ks to train for. Not enough? Why not learn sewing, and yoga and..and…and.
Then I had kids. And for a long time, I was coasting around being that busy mom. I landed my dream teaching job when W was 4 months old. I don’t regret going back to work for a second (personally and financially!), but the fact I was able to manage to work and being a mom with a young baby only reinforced the idea that I could do it all. I loved motherhood and working so much, I just thought I’d go ahead and get pregnant as soon as I could and wham–then came Norah.
My struggles with a second baby are writings for another time (like when I’ll be writing for Vital Physio Therapy in November! Are you on their email list?! ), but I did the ultimate busy girl thing to do after having Norah: I started my own business. At first, I didn’t see my life as a consultant as anything more than extra vacation money. But, I hustled (because I can never do anything half-assed), and suddenly I had a thriving business and a full-time job.
I started to have panic attacks. Randomly.
My hair started to fall out
I was worried about EVERYTHING.
I was getting sick all the time.
But on the surface, I was doing everything I usually did–I WAS GOOD at being busy. What the hell was going on.
Enter–my therapist. Who basically nudged me into a couple of ideas:
- Busy-ness was a way to mask feelings (spoiler alert, they always bubble up!)
- I had, hAD, HAD to find ways to rest (really. She lovingly read me the riot act when I didn’t)
I used to tell people I kept busy or I’d get anxious about something, but here’s the thing–that’s not a long term solution and eventually you get tired. My body was tired and i was ignoring it. So It started to yell at me by several health scares and my hair falling out. My doctor literally told me: “get your stress under control, or this will never stop”.
I did. I got my shit together. It was REALLY hard to do guys.
I had to come back and tell my therapist ways I slowed down. I had a goal of meditation for 2 minutes (which felt like agony).
I kept doing good work with my therapist and ….like my therapist promised. Things started to fall into place. Let me share how.
- My anxiety was at a peak for a while. Not being busy meant dealing with some past traumas. I did that. It was hard, but it needed to be done
- As I’ve written about before, I cut coffee out for about 6 months to help ‘calm’ my body. Coffee is back but only 1 small cup/ day
- I started meditating. Once at 2 min/s day, now I’m at 20 minutes twice a day.
- I said no to more things. I started listening to my body. And for once, I enjoyed being still.
This all sounds so easy but it’s been about 2 solid years of concentration of making this happen for me. I guess I write this today because I still see so much busy. So many moms doing it all. Moms bragging about giving birth and having their cell phones writing work emails. I worry (I don’t judge) about those comments: we’re meant to rest after having a baby. We’re meant to have times not working. We’re meant to have 8 hours of sleep. And doing these things doesn’t mean you’re lazy, or bad. You’re resting. And if you don’t make it happen for yourself–especially as a mom–it will never happen.
Heed my words.
Keep your hair.
Stop freaking out
And go to bed.