5 Things to Stop Doing When You’re Struggling and Feeling Drained

Posted by on March 14, 2020 in Conscious Living, Inspirational with 0 Comments

By Lori Deschene | Tiny Buddha

 

“There is nothing in nature that blooms all year long, so don’t expect yourself to do so either.” ~Unknown

Recently I’ve been spread incredibly thin and, at times, I’ve felt stressed to the max.


In addition to being at the tail end of a high-risk pregnancy, with complications, I’ve been working toward various new projects—not just for fulfillment but also because I’ve allowed the business side of running this site to slide for years. And I have a baby coming soon. It’s crucial that I revive what I’ve allowed to deflate because I’ll have a whole new life to provide for.

There’s a lot I need to do over the next six weeks, before my scheduled C-section, and a lot I’ve failed to do over the previous weeks, largely because I’ve had many days when I’ve felt physically and emotionally incapable of rising to the challenge.

To be fair, there’s also been a lot to enjoy and appreciate, and I know I am incredibly fortunate to be pregnant at all, and to have the opportunity to do so much professionally. But life has felt somewhat pressure-filled as of late, and along with many small wins have come many hours and days when I’ve felt drained and defeated.

I recently realized that my best days all have certain things in common—little things I choose to do for my well-being, and a number of unhelpful habits I resist the urge to indulge. If you’re also struggling, personally or professionally, and feeling drained, perhaps my lessons will be helpful to you too.

5 Things to Stop Doing When You’re Struggling and Feeling Drained

1. Stop comparing your struggle to anyone else’s.

Over a year ago an old friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s the same age as I am, and she’s someone I’ve long admired, even though we’ve fallen out of touch beyond occasional interactions on social media.

She’s left unfulfilling jobs, despite the financial risk involved; walked away from relationships that weren’t right for her, even while engaged, when it would have been easier to stay; and jumped out of more than 100 planes, each leap representative of the courage that guides her every inspiring, bold life choice.

She’s faced cancer with the type of bravery I’ve come to expect from her, coupled with an honesty and vulnerability about her fears that, to me, displays even more strength. But still, I know it’s been grueling.


As I sit here in my own very fortunate circumstances—at the same as age as her—I often tell myself I have no reason to be struggling. My current experience couldn’t even be termed a struggle compared to what she’s been through. I should just suck it up when I’m having a hard day and push myself through any tiredness or discomfort. Because I’m lucky.

But the reality is, I still have hard days. I am still going through a high-risk pregnancy, juggling a lot, and dealing with a host of fears and physical symptoms that require my compassion.

I wouldn’t compare my hard days to her devastating year—there’s clearly no comparison—but the point is, I don’t have to.

I’m allowed to experience the feelings and struggles associated with my current life circumstances even if someone else’s are far more tragic. And so are you.

Many may have it “worse,” but why compare and judge? If it helps alleviate self-pity so you can find the perspective and strength you need to keep going, then by all means make comparisons. But if it only serves to minimize your feelings and needs, try to remember that two people can have completely different situations, and both can need and deserve compassion equally.

2. Stop focusing on things that aren’t priorities.

When we’re going through a tough time, we need to get extra-discriminating about what truly matters and what doesn’t. If we exhaust ourselves with the non-essential, we’ll have little energy for the things that can actually move the dial in the areas of our life that most need our attention.

I remember when I had surgery to remove uterine fibroids seven years back. I knew I needed to take it easy or else I’d prolong my healing, but I also felt the overwhelming urge to maintain order in my environment. I’m a control freak. It’s what I do.

I remember there was a pair of shoes next to the door, where shoes didn’t usually go, and not only that; they were askew. The horror!

I was one day out of surgery, my lower stomach stitched together after being sliced across the middle, yet I still felt the need to slowly lower myself so I could put those shoes in the closet—even though it was painful to do so. My mother, who was visiting to help me, pointed out the insanity, and I knew she was right.

I now think of those shoes whenever I am struggling physically or emotionally, and I ask myself, what else really doesn’t need to be immediately done, or do I not actually have to do myself?

Can the dishes wait till the morning? Or can I get someone else to do them? Does every email in my inbox need a response—and immediately? Can I say no to some requests? Can I simplify my daily routine? What do I really need to do for myself—physically, emotionally, and professionally? And what do I just want to do because I think I should, to feel ahead of the curve, or on top of things, or good about how much I’m checking off my to-do list?

Scaling back can feel like failure, especially if you’re Type A, like me, but sometimes we have to prioritize so we can use the limited energy we have wisely. If we don’t, we risk busting open our “stitches,” whether that means physical burnout or an emotional breakdown, and then we set ourselves back even further.

3. Stop expecting yourself to do what you could do before.

Maybe you were far more physically active or productive before (I know I was). Or you were the person anyone could call any time, any day, whenever they needed an ear or a hand. Or you were everyone’s go-to person for a night out when they needed to blow off some steam.

It’s easy to cling to our sense of identity when we feel it slipping away. Not only do we mourn who used to be, fearing this change may be permanent, we worry other people may not like this new version of ourselves—this person who’s far less fun or far more needy.

But the thing is, we’re not who we were before. We’re in a new chapter, facing new circumstances and challenges, and our evolving needs won’t go away just because we ignore or neglect them.

I’m not going to sugar coat this: It just plain sucks when you can’t do the things you once enjoyed. My boyfriend has had multiple knee surgeries and ongoing knee problems, and my heart breaks for him knowing he may never be able to do certain things he loves again, like playing basketball.

But he’s accepted his limitations and found new things to do that check off some of the same boxes. He works out on an elliptical to stay in shape and rehab his knee. He throws himself into fantasy football to scratch his competitive itch. And he sweats it out in the sauna to help blow off some steam.

As for me, I’m not going to yoga classes at the moment because I don’t have the time or energy, and I’m also not getting as much done as I once did on a daily basis. But I count my lucky stars that I’ll someday be able to do these things again, even if not for a while after the baby comes.

It’s natural to grieve losses, temporary or permanent, big or small, but eventually we need to accept reality and then ask ourselves, “How can I work with the way things are instead of resisting them?” Otherwise, we cause ourselves a lot of unnecessary stress—and it doesn’t help or change anything.

 

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