Journal Entry Series:
How too much downtime has me crashing.
I recently went to my very first counseling sessions. Somehow, I’d always thought that other people needed counseling more and so I shouldn’t “clog” things up by making an appointment for my mundane problems/worries/etc.
What finally sent me to the counselor’s office wasn’t even some dramatic fight or an onset of any legitimate mental crisis. I just started to feel like I couldn’t keep things straight. I’d lost energy and procrastinated to the point of not even doing the reading for classes at all. Last week, I even forgot to double check my calendar (something I never used to do) and got on the interstate to go home before a friend texted me and reminded me that I was supposed to be on shift at my university’s writing center. Needless to say, I was a half an hour late–something I’ve never been before.
All of this is extremely out of character for me. I have spreadsheets for everything, an extensively thorough planner, a detailed calendar in my iPhone (with everything from scholarship application deadlines to my daughter’s library story hour), and a running to-do list at all times. I’ve boasted time and time again about my extraordinary mom-work-ethic. Plus, I am only taking 12 hours this semester (the lightest load possible with Hope) and yet, instead of getting ahead, I’m floundering. My brain feels tired and when I try to motivate myself, it’s like I need glasses for my mind’s eye in order to see my internal to-do list.
When I told all of this to my counselor, she said that a lot of it could come from a lack of pressure and stimulation. Because I don’t have a dozen deadlines looming over my shoulder, the ones I do face aren’t daunting enough to trigger me into working with my usual vigor. This makes total sense. As I’ve said before, the reason that I have my “extraordinary mom-work-ethic” is because I realized every moment of studying is precious when you have an infant that could wake up at any second and put a stop to that 8-page research paper on the mythological symbolism of fruit in Eudora Welty’s work that you finally hit your stride writing.
What my counselor suggested was generating more pressurizers, but also taking time to myself so that there is balance. I find the latter hard to do because I am so used to being paralyzed by downtime, thinking surely there must be something I need to do that I’m forgetting which sends me into a semi-panic. She suggested that by carving out designated time for myself, I would eliminate the paralysis response and also be able to focus better when it’s “go-time” because I would theoretically be more relaxed and therefore clear-minded.
This is something I’m going to tackle now, but also overlaps with month seven of my Happiness Project which focuses on stress management.
What do you think? Have you experienced any of these symptoms? How did you overcome them? How do you handle the hustle and bustle of the ever-demanding modern world?
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As seen here on Odyssey