Burn Out: International Self-Care Day

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Maya Barach

Maya is 22 years old and currently studying English Literature and Philosophy.

Pushing yourself over the edge: How to remove yourself from self-sabotage 

Hello there, it’s been a while. I’m casually floating back into your bubble with a topic of discussion you might find either comforting or enlightening. Let me get straight to it. Since the start of 2021, there has been this huge pressure concerned with staying proactive and being productive. Push out as much content as you can. Push, push, push. Continuously scan your brain for ideas. Don’t let yourself sleep at night. Don’t forget to see what others are doing. How can you exceed ‘others’? How can you extract the crème de la crème from yourself and your current situation? Furthermore, how do you force yourself to stay on top when there is something very demanding weighing you down? 

Active and Conscious Distraction – the self-care you really need 

What I mean specifically is – how do we allow ourselves to sleep at night when we feel like we’re not cutting it? When we’re experiencing a creative block; when we’ve been staring at the same piece of content for days on end and still feel unsatisfied. We simply do not. Instead, we wallow in the pits of not doing enough yet feeling burnt out. We have all these social interactions to tend to, we take on everyone’s issues and we all give off this ‘I’m here whatever the weather’ vibe. Even if we can literally see our red light on high alert. But we ignore this light and see how long we can go. 

I can easily tell you that’s wrong and that isn’t how you put yourself first. In fact, you think that by staying in that overwhelming loop, you are ‘getting shit done’. You might be ticking things of the list but you are also exhausting your energy system. You try to incorporate new methods that are considered self-care and only feel somewhat satisfied. Instead of turning your screen off at night, you find yourself looking things up that are half-heartedly appealing. ‘What are you doing?’ you ask yourself or maybe you don’t.  The bottom line is that you fuel your exhaustion in more ways than you could begin to imagine. Personally, I haven’t quite found ‘the balance’ or mastered a routine that isn’t draining but I’ve definitely encountered a few things that seem to make a difference.  

I used to spend hours obsessing over the same thing, the same issue, to a point where I would become a lump of anxiety that keeps producing more and more mass. Only now do I realise how destructive this can be. Not to say I don’t still do it but I’ve managed to minimise the time spent on it. Distraction is a wonderful thing when it comes to this. I mean strictly distraction and not procrastination, although the two definitely come in the same boat. There is a sharp difference between diverting your thoughts elsewhere and ignoring your responsibilities as much as your mind allows you to. Knowing the difference is key, once you have that on lock, you’re on stable grounds. When you find yourself in this anxious rut, try to occupy yourself with something completely unrelated to the core issue. If being in the same physical space is contributing to the negative emotions you correlate to the issue, leave. Sit outside, go for a walk or go into another room if you don’t feel like going outside. I find that listening to music and tidying something usually does the trick for me. I’ve noticed that the more accepting you are towards yourself, the better. 

Recognising and Ending  

By accepting, I mean completely allowing yourself to feel what you’re feeling without immediate obstruction. Yes, you’re feeling crappy and yes there’s a lot of pent-up stuff inside but it will pass. Even when you feel like that’s impossible, it is not. We go through hundreds of moods in a day where our emotions constantly fluctuate. If we were to focus on every single feeling for lengthy amounts of time, we would be swallowed whole. It is necessary to know at what point do we let go and get on with the rest. This takes practice and can even take years but as long as you stay aware of it, you’re good. Time to go back to accepting yourself for all that you are. 

Too often we are our own biggest critique yet we tolerate everyone else but ourselves. Have you realised how understanding we can be when it comes to supporting a friend or offering advice? How lenient we are with our close ones’ emotions? How caring we can be when we see the people we love experiencing hardship? Or how we go to extra lengths to offer our friends the slightest bit of comfort when all they see is grey? So, why is it that when we find ourselves in these positions, we completely ignore all the red flags and instead turn to resenting ourselves? We overthink every action we take; we pay extra attention to scrutinising ourselves over the smallest things. When both our body and mind produces clear evidence that the load is becoming too heavy, we forcefully push ourselves forward. This is what I’m talking about here. This right here. 

In fact, if you look at it for what it actually is, it’s one of the biggest forms of self-neglect and sabotage. We pour ourselves into others for the sake of wellbeing yet literally reject ourselves over and over again. It’s indeed difficult to reverse this after years of being horrible to yourself but with time, changes are possible. This doesn’t mean let everything slide and stop caring completely. What it means is do allow yourself to mess things up without the tangent of self-anger that follows. If you are tired from the night before, don’t complete every little thing on todays to do list. If you didn’t manage to cook dinner, clean and work out all in one afternoon don’t hate on yourself. You will get to it. Also be mindful of how much energy you are giving to everyone else but yourself. 

Most importantly, prioritise prioritising yourself. That’s it. That’s today’s message. Interpret that however you fancy but leave room to listen to yourself more often. Apply a few of these positive factors to your everyday life and see how your mental health flourishes. Whether the dry leaves fall off and leave room for new ones or whether you bloom into one big flower of patience and radiance, contribute to your own growth a little. 

Enjoyed this piece by Maya? Read more of her work here. If you’re a young person looking for support on anything discussed in the blog or are looking for opportunities to unlock your potential, contact us!

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