How to Get Out of My Own Way

This is something I’d like to do more of in my daily life. Sometimes in the midst of my chaos (inner and/or outer), I forget simple things that help me to be a less chaotic & neurotic, more functional person. So I’ll start with a brief list of things I need to remember when chaos strikes:

  • It’s not the end of the world (literally & figuratively)
  • Ask for help when you feel overwhelmed
  • If you’re having difficulty managing your time, ask for an extension on projects*
  • Conduct a Basic Needs Assessment
  • Have you been engaging in activities that help you relax/de-stress? (The answer is probably a loud, resounding, “NO.” But you can’t run on empty, so even if it feels like you don’t have enough time to relax, in actuality you don’t have the luxury of not taking the time to relax and refuel, because that is how you burn out**.)
  • Spend time with people who give you energy, not people who drain it. Alternatively, spend time alone because, often, that is all you need to reset.
  • When is the last time you laughed? If you have trouble recalling, you are in serious need of FUN. In order to do your work effectively, you must also engage in PLAY. It’s not a luxury for you; it’s a necessity. You have a tendency to hyperfocus, which is great when you’re trying to meet a deadline! Less great when you’re overwhelmed by ALL THE THINGS. So take time to unfocus, or refocus on tasks that allow you to unwind, unravel, become less of a tangled ball of nerves.
  • Are you stuck in your head trying to figure out Life? Or your Purpose? Or what to do next (even though you’re chin-deep in what you’re doing NOW)? STOP. Stop the insanity, stop the thinking, just HALT. When you find yourself spiraling into OMG WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE I DON’T HAVE A PLAN OMG OMG IT’S 3AM I SHOULD TOTALLY LOOK UP GRADUATE PROGRAMS IN X, Y, OR Z EVEN THOUGH I HAVE TO GET UP IN 4 HOURS! — just S T O P. There are no answers to be found in your current state of existential crisis. Go to sleep. TRUST (and I know how hard this is) that, if you follow your gut, you will find the next thing, whatever it may be. It will appear. (I have so much more to say on this topic! Forthcoming!)
  • Go to your Self-Care Toolbox and take care of your SELF. Don’t have a Self-Care Toolbox? No problem, you can create one easily.

*Asking for extensions (or any accommodation) can be hard on the ego, I get it. But consider it a matter of health — because that’s what it is. If you had mono and as a result missed a bunch of classes and fell behind in your work, it makes sense to ask for accommodations, right? Well, stress adversely affects your immune system, so consider this a preemptive measure and pat yourself on the back!

**Burning out: it’s real, it happens, but there are things you can do to prevent it. In our culture which values productivity over just about all else, it happens a LOT, but you don’t have to buy into that way of thinking. Really. You are allowed to put yourself, your wellbeing, FIRST. In fact, if we don’t all start doing this, there will be more burnouts than functioning people.

 

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