The “Shoulds”

Those of you who follow my newsletter, received a message from me last week that I am in burnout and need to focus on my own self-care for a while so am taking a step back from launching my services.

Facing the reality of burnout, means stopping high pressure activities. For someone like me, that’s hard. I’m always “on.” Always thinking. Always solving something. My schedule is full of goals and expectations and productivity. A good day for me is a productive day! What did I get accomplished? Did I get enough done to satisfy my own expectations? The reality of burnout is there needs to be fewer expectations. There are things I have to do like look for self-care opportunities and do them; look after my family and my pets — the living and breathing still need my attention. (Oh, and water my plants.) But school and my business need to be put on hold for now.

This is hard for me. I’ve spent several days wondering what I’m supposed to do with my time. I’ve stood in the middle of my living room tapping my chin and looking around for something to do. If I’m not putting together programs and fitting in studying, what am I supposed to do? I’m a creative person, but the creative juices aren’t really flowing too well these days either.

James (hubby) came up with a Christmas project he wanted to make, but half it involved some crochet work, so I spent time crocheting during the day, this is usually an evening in-front-of-the-TV activity. So that felt weird.

My performance coach encouraged me to start an idea journal where I just record all my ideas and be super creative about it. “There are no bad ideas.” Jot everything down so they don’t dance in my head, taking up space. I got a sketch book and a new pack of markers and spent some time staring at a blank page. But I’m finding my groove with it and currently working on a lot of word mapping. (They look like spiders, main idea in the middle with a circle around it and then off shoot ideas like legs coming off the centre circle.) And boy, are they colourful! And a new twist on my business idea has come to light. So, I think on that. And jot more things down in my journal with randomly selected colours.

James was so impressed the other day to see me playing a video game. It’s one of my favourites but I never play it. “I have better things to do with my time.” But it is a rather relaxing game with nice music and I had 45 minutes to kill before an appointment, so I reasoned it out with myself. It was hard. My brain kept going to the what I should be doing, and I had to keep reminding it, that I should be playing a video game right then.

I spend a lot of time fighting guilt about “the shoulds.” The shoulds are the worst. I have yet to reach the point where I’m completely immersed in the now. And I’m a long from that point. I’m always jumping to and wrangling the “shoulds.” But it’s only been a week, so I’ll be gentle with myself. Things will get better.

I look for the thing that will get me excited to get out of bed in the morning. It is still beyond my reach. I’m tired and unmotivated. This is burnout.

For now, I’ve decided to keep my Instagram and Facebook accounts going. I like them, it’s not too hard with the Later app to have it all set up for the week. It satisifies some of the shoulds.

And I nap as needed. I’m tired. Burnout is exhaustion.

So I’m on a healing journey. I know I’m not the only one in this place. If you’re in burnout, really look at what’s on your plate that you can let go, temporarily or permanently. Then let it go. It’s hard. I get it. And you’ll probably battle the shoulds too. I can chat about it, feel free to comment below, or contact me.

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