Is it just me, or has everyone’s world suddenly turned topsy turvy?
It’s hard to find balance when you’re clinging on by your fingernails.
It’s all about balance, I tell myself as I eat a pizza, in my pyjamas, on the couch, after a long work week. But is this balance?
Every time someone asks me how I am, I say “work is so hectic”. I’m almost afraid that if I don’t tell everyone I’m stressed and busy, I’ll be seen as lazy.
How did we get to a point where exhaustion is seen as a badge of honour, but we also need to stay positive?
I pride myself on being authentic, so I’ll admit that my life has been anything but balanced lately.
I feel like I’ve been hanging onto normality by my fingernails. In my race to keep up with everyone, I don’t even recognise myself sometimes.
What am I trying to keep up with? It’s an open secret that if you were to pan out of frame of many happy domestic scenes on social media, you’d see the pile of laundry and an explosion of LEGO.
But I’m not comparing myself to social media influencers. I’m comparing myself to everyone around me. (I took a poll. They aren’t managing either.)
A few weeks ago, in therapy, I had to admit that my sleep cycle was off.
I’d been sleeping for big portions of my weekends but struggling to sleep at night during the week.
I was probably getting enough hours of sleep, but the balance was off, leaving me exhausted and frustrated.
I felt like I was missing out on enjoying my weekends. But I was so tired. The solution for now is a ban on naps.
I’m managing, mostly. I did a mid-morning guided meditation last Sunday, in the foetal position, on my bed, under my duvet. How was I to know I’d fall asleep?
My therapist and I also had an awkward conversation about my eating habits. I assured her I was eating regularly and fairly healthily.
Unfortunately, between loadshedding and exhaustion, I’d got into the habit of eating cheese or peanut butter on rice cakes for supper.
I get a proper hot lunch at work, so this felt okay. She pointed out that while I was eating in the evenings, my food choices were not conveying a loving message to my emotional side.
I was telling myself I wasn’t worth the effort it would take to put together a colourful and varied plate of food.
I’m not the Little Match Girl. I don’t need to eat bland food in the dark. A butternut and beetroot salad by candlelight sounds more romantic.
Let’s just say I’m more aware of my dinner choices now. When I get the urge to cook a proper meal, I cook enough for a family of six and freeze the bulk of it.
My exercise regime has been erratic. I attend my weekly ballet class, but I’m not consistent with my other classes. Some weeks I do four classes. Other weeks, only one.
I don’t need to tell you how important exercise is for mood regulation, along with food and sleep. The solution is to pace myself and be gentle.
Last Wednesday, I did a cardio-heavy class and left a shaky, sweaty mess. I did the same type of class today, and left feeling like a champion.
My fitness stats show a marginal difference in heart rate, so today was just a better day for me.
Finally, we need to talk about how I spend the time that I’m not sleeping, eating, or exercising.
I am a people-pleaser. It’s a constant test for me to maintain boundaries. My job is demanding, and I work with a lot of creatives.
Creativity does not always function from 8 to 5, Monday to Friday. Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. But I wonder if I haven’t become chemically dependant on the adrenalin.
I’m learning to be strict about when and how I’m available outside normal work hours.
Working with people all week can leave me “peopled out” by the time the weekend rolls around.
I’m learning that it’s okay to do nothing sometimes. Just because I work hard, doesn’t mean I need to play hard.
It’s about balance. It’s about boundaries and consistency. Just because the world is topsy turvy, doesn’t mean I need to be.