Things have been a bit absent on the blog post front over the past week haven't they?
To be honest, I made a conscious decision to de-prioritise this blog for a short while, just so I can get on top of some other areas of my life and generally reduce my stress levels.
Not a perfect solution, but it's worked. I've used the time to get some other shit together and I'm back, sat down at the table and ready to write.
This all brings me onto the feeling of being overwhelmed - an almost universal feeling that plagues many of us.
Our lives are busy, our schedules are hectic and the pace of life seems to accelerate away from us in every direction.
Welcome to the 21st century.
To be clear - this is a post developed from a couple of my journal entries over the past few months.
Originally these fragments were written from myself to myself - small letters of kindness or reminders for bad weeks.
I'm sharing this all in the hope that fellow often-overwhelmed souls will take comfort in the fact that they are not alone.
I know the pile feels high at the moment, the pressure is mounting and the days keep running away from you. There's an endless to-do list which constantly replenishes itself, leaving no room for respite or repair.
You're tired, bone achingly tired as the tank hits empty.
There's nothing more to give, I hear you speak these words to yourself and I acknowledge how powerful that feeling is. The feeling of wanting it all to stop. The feeling that this pressure is unreasonable and the situation is untenable.
I hear the stress in your voice, the weight of everything slips through the cracks in every word.
I know you want to give up, to throw in the towel, reconcile yourself to your perceived failures.
(Have you failed? I want to ask. Even if you stop now, have you really failed in a catastrophic way?)
All of these things I know. But I don't think they tell the full story. You're stuck in tunnel vision, you're in a spiral of catastrophic thoughts.
Let me be a second pair of eyes and offer an alternative perspective. You can reject it if you want, but it might just be worth taking a moment to consider other perspectives.
You have nothing to loose at this stage right? Because you've already decided you want to quit.
You're stubborn, you don't take no for an answer. You're willing to take risks, you're willing to push the boundaries. This makes you vulnerable in some ways, but it's also part of your strength.
You can think outside of constraints and the limits of your present situation are no different - there is always a way through and there is always a way forward.
Make some space for yourself
Run a damn bath, put on the radio, grab a glass of wine and soak for half an hour.
(Replace this with whatever pampering/relaxation ritual works for you)
This is important, you are important. Taking time for yourself is a priority right now and always.
Go for a long walk/run/cycle. Remove yourself physically from the spaces that you inhabit when stressed.
Find a new perspective by literally forcing a new view on yourself.
Get it out of your head
First up, drink a big glass of water, because dehydration will undoubtedly make things feel worse.
Then grab a big piece of paper, the bigger the better.
Start by dumping everything - every thought, concern, task, "must not forget" - onto the paper. Get it out of your head, even the small, seemingly insignificant things. Don't worry about the order or placement on the page, get it out of your head.
There will be some stuff here that you can immediately cross off.
Ask yourself, if I don't do this, will I care about it in a month? If no, strike it out.
Will I care about it in three months? No - strike it out.
These things are not worth your energy or time.
Next get a highlighter and go through the remaining tasks, highlight anything you can delegate to someone else - a friend, partner or relative. (If you say you need help, the important people in your life will understand and will want to help you out.)
You've hopefully just halved your to-do list (if not, go through the steps above again and be even more ruthless).
It's OK to let things go, especially when you have taken time to acknowledge them and chosen discard them as part of a considered process.
Take things a day at a time. Don't be afraid of (temporarily) setting boundaries to your ambition.
Revisit the big picture stuff once you have a grip on the day to day details.
You are stronger than you think (a very overused saying, but true nonetheless).
I read somewhere, (definitely somewhere as credible as Reddit or Buzzfeed) that US Navy Seals have a doctrine about pushing your boundaries.
Their take is: when you think you're done or you've reached your limit, you're actually only 40% done.
You still have 60% of the gas left in the tank. You still have mental and physical resources to draw upon, you just need to break through the mental barrier which is calling on you to quit.
Dig your heels in. Find the rest of your fuel. Go forward and ignore the part of your brain which wants you to take the easy, safe path.
Finally, sometimes you are really done.
Sometimes you have actually hit 100% and you need to stop.
It's OK to quit. It's OK to put yourself and your needs first.
It's OK to leave the relationship.
It's OK to shut down your business and move onto something new.
It's OK to say no.