Like you, maybe, I have a tendency to burn out if I don’t pay attention to my energy levels and the subtle signs my body and intuition are showing me. And I’m trying not to let it get to the “crash and burn” stage anymore—sheesh, I’ve been through enough of that. I don’t seem to have a throttle that keeps me on an even keel through life, and instead I barrel along at 100 miles per hour. At least it often seems that way.
So this time, when the little, and then not so little, nudges started intruding on my hectic and stressful life—the silent whispers that said, “Marcia, slow down. You’re wound way too tight,“—I actually listened.
I actually paid attention. I slowed down. And it really, really helped
Here’s what I did:
1. I poked my head up and took advantage of the people who had been offering their help all along (the ones I had been telling no to, that I didn’t need their help). I let others do a few of the things I thought only I should be doing. (After all, I’m Superwoman, right?)
2. I took an entire week off to do something just for me—something that wasn’t related to business, or making money, or taking care of my mother, or visiting family. It felt awfully selfish, but I did it! I took a week off to go to a painting workshop. I had to arrange for others to fill in for me, and I had to get a flight, rent a car, get a place to stay, purchase supplies, and then do nothing but selfishly focus on something I have always wanted to do—just for me!
3. I reconnected with friends and extended family and made a point to spend extra time just visiting with people I love.
4. I cut back on my workload. This was difficult for me, but it felt a necessary piece of the puzzle. I didn’t write blog posts or make podcast episodes. I didn’t send out emails, engage in social media, or develop programs. I continued to work with existing clients and people who contacted me and were a good fit for my coaching, but I didn’t do any marketing or seek out new clients.
5. I was gentle with myself.
It’s been three months
It has been three months since I decided to slow down, and I feel my energy building up again. From this perspective, I can see the edge I was again close to teetering on—the edge I’ve raced to many times in my life. In the past, though, I’ve allowed myself to go right up to, and even over, the edge, ending with the equivalent of a head-on crash into a tree—although not quite so literally, thank goodness. The energy depletion and cleanup from the emotional wreckage of those times was never pretty, so I’m happy to not have gotten to that point again.
The ongoing breaks I take to work on my painting actually expand and increase my energy (that’s one of my latest painting sketches, above). The extra time I spend going to the gym and hiking increases my energy, too. And I don’t know if it helps to just sit and enjoy the view in the comfy new chairs on my back porch, but it sure feels good!
And now I’m ready to pick back up again
But I won’t pick up at the speed I left off. I know I may get to that velocity again, and I don’t want to help it along. I like being able to catch it before I veer too far off course. Because for me, and maybe for you, being aware of my ADHD tendency to steamroll through life—and being able to step in and redirect it before it knocks me down—is a beautiful thing.