In the space of a week I’ve seen normally competent, well balanced friends hurtling like out of control skiers into a vortex of stress. I’ve had outwardly successful clients descending into serious ill health from mental and emotional overload and colleagues with stratospheric blood pressure, who are consumed by anger at pretty much everything.
What is it about this time of year that seems to press the fast forward button in our lives, making problems loom larger; deadlines more urgent; failures more inflated; discontent and despair more menacing, and can drain your energy to an all time low?
It can feel like the mother of all hangovers—and you haven’t even begun the seasonal festivities yet.
Even those of us for whom the impact isn’t quite so dramatic can feel as though instead of our goals and dreams drawing closer, they’re slipping further away or falling off the rails, and we’re left wondering what the hell we did wrong. Sometimes you just feel flat, as though you’re not firing on all cylinders—that something is missing.
And it is—but rarely what you think.
Have you ever felt you wanted something specific to eat, gone to the kitchen and stood there undecided about what it is you’re craving? What taste, sweet, sour or salty? What consistency? What color? So you dig around a bit, but just can’t find anything that gives you that yes I’ve found it, blissful satisfaction.
Well, when it comes to finding a cure for that butt-dragging, energy drained feeling we often use a similar strategy.
Especially at this time of year, when our consumer society goes into overdrive, we can easily be convinced that the answers to these yearnings lie in the external world, or pleasing others. Sure, a new car, an exotic holiday, expensive gifts, more food, more parties, more money, more recognition or applause, more exciting experiences, more, more more…. may scratch that itch—for a while.
But what happens when you’re credit card has melted and the itch is back?
Now, I’m not advocating going off to meditate in a cave with no fun or material comforts. In my opinion there’s nothing like a little luxury and fun to lift you up when you’re down.
But stress, illness, energy drain or non-specific yearnings are trying to tell you something—that there’s too much energy going out and not enough coming in; that you’ve been on the “battle field” too long. Why do we not get this? When your mobile phone bleats because the battery is dying, you know straight away what it needs. You plug it in and recharge the battery.
You see, when the pressure is on (and has been all year) and your attention has become fixed on the external world, and you’ve been repeatedly urged to work harder, look better, be more successful, sleep less, sell more, go faster, stay longer, leave later, sacrifice what you want, settle, start when you’re told to, stop when you’re told to, move when you’re told to, and what the definition of winning is, you become deaf and blind to what your feelings are telling you.
It’s all too easy to keep plugging into the same power sources that caused your fatigue in the first place.
But the answer is to hit the pause button, focus your attention inward, and ask yourself some important questions. You’ll be amazed what you find. You’re a walking Wikipedia, packed with all the wisdom, inspiration, motivation and answers you need to rebalance your life and regain your energy. And your body is trying to tell you this.
Once the people I described in the first paragraph hit the pause button, and reached out for help, this is some of the feedback they gave—wow, what a relief, I never thought it was so simple; how could I feel so different in such a short time; how is it possible to feel like this an hour later, when my world was crumbling around me, or my situation hasn’t changed but I feel so energized, clear and in control now!
Listen to your feelings screaming pause!
Focus your attention inward. Ask the important questions. And reach out for help if you need it. This increases self-awareness. And the more self-aware you become, the easier it is to recognize where your problems lie.
It really isn’t as complicated as you might think. It’s just learning a new response, and making it a habit. Here are 10 questions to ask yourself if you want to beat that butt-dragging feeling and have a stress free year ahead:
1. Has my life become boring and routine; and if so, how can I put the wow back into it?
2. Are all the changes and uncertainty making me insecure; and if so how can I pump up my risk immunity?
3. Am I stuck in a comfort zone craving variety, adventure and challenge, and if so how can I satisfy this craving?
4. Do I feel like a valued, appreciated, important member of a ‘tribe’, whether at home or at work? If not, how can I increase my sense of self-value?
5. Have I drifted off course and got side-tracked from my goals and dreams?
6. How well am I looking after myself physically—diet, exercise, rest and relaxation?
7. How am I looking after my mental health, how much inspiration am I feeding my mind on a regular basis?
8. Whose needs come first in my life?
9. Is my emotional life fulfilling and balanced, and if not what are my feelings trying to tell me?
10. Is there a healthy balance between effort and reward in my life, and if not how can I redress this balance?
You see the end of a year is a great opportunity to look in the rear view mirror.
It’s a perfect opportunity to reflect and recharge; to look back and celebrate all you’ve achieved, overcome, learned, and how far you’ve come; to pin bravery medals on yourself; to review and adjust your goals and aspirations; to strengthen your team support.
Once you pause, tune out the noise and relax, the whispers of your feelings (and sometimes shouts) can come to the surface.
That’s what they’re there for—to steer you, poke and prod you patiently until you start asking the questions that you need to ask. The answers are right there, waiting to be discovered.
As a client who has had a truly torrid year full of major challenges, commented recently. This course has been invaluable in its revelation that when you open that Pandora’s Box of seemingly unmanageable problems—they are not insurmountable!
Why not give yourself the most valuable gift there is—self-awareness? Don’t dismiss simple solutions. That’s often where the answers you’ve been craving lie.
And if you need help, simply click here.