Y’all, I have been struggling. I have been struggling at trying to maintain some balance in my life lately. Between work, school, relationships with my children, my husband, my family, and friends, teaching, and the other day to day stressors, I have felt as if I were just treading water and not getting anywhere. No. Scratch that. I feel like I have been water boarded….and I’m the one dumping on the water.
I thought I was maintaining balance well; I am doing well in school, my work has been good, my relationships with friends and family are great. However, I have had a sense of….doom? Pressure? Feeling overwhelmed? Anxiety? I consistently have felt as if I’m missing something or falling behind in some area, whether or not this was a fact. I have experienced these feelings for a couple months now and they finally resulted in my getting pneumonia and being physically and mentally exhausted.
Having pneumonia forced me to rest. Oddly enough, I was stressed because I was forced to rest. All I could think about was how far behind I was going to be at work and in school. (Although the forced rest resulted in a renewed love of cheesy Lifetime movies. ) As a counselor and a Master’s student, we learn a lot about burnout. I am not a fan of the term “burnout”. To me, burnout conjures visuals of burnt wood. That isn’t me. I’m not burnt, crispy, and weakened by the pressures of my job. Yes, at times my job is emotionally draining because I get to listen to people on some of their worst days. However, that is also one of the parts of my job that humbles me and inspires me.
After the mandatory rest and the Thanksgiving holiday, it clicked as to why I was feeling so….heavy. I was out of balance. I love the work I get to do on a daily basis with my clients. I love going to class and being surrounded by people who are bound and determined to make a difference. I love teaching Mental Health First Aid and helping someone realize that they can help save a life. I love advocating for mental health and suicide prevention. I love spending days not doing a damn thing but curling up on the couch watching movies with my husband, kiddos, and pups. How could I love each part of what my life consists of and still feel overwhelmed? I realized that even though I loved each ball I was juggling, I could drop everything I was juggling if I held onto one ball too long.
On Christmas break, I went down home to Louisiana. Not only did I go home, but I did something that I have never done before-I left work at work. I left work at work for an ENTIRE week. Weird, the world didn’t stop spinning. I talked with my Mama on the backporch with a cup of coffee. I visited with my Mom. I watched my kiddos interact with my parents. I laughed and talked with my siblings. I slowed down, experienced, and enjoyed each day home.
I would have liked to end this blog by stating that I found the magic key to balance but I didn’t. The antibiotic, PowerAde, and Lifetime movie trifecta didn’t result in any profound algorithms to suddenly create perfect balance in my life. However, the realization that I need (and probably so do you) need more balance in my life is pretty damn big. I also learned that SLOWING DOWN can have a major impact on keeping a more balanced life. So, going into 2017, I can’t promise that I won’t juggle too much or get overwhelmed at times. However, I can strive to slow down, focus on the small things, and know that it’s perfectly ok to not have the perfect answer to creating perfect balance in my life.