How do you keep going when it all gets too much?
I remember vividly the day when I found out.
I was exhausted.
At the end of my tether.
And I knew there was one place I could turn to for help.
“Today I feel so tired I could cry,” I typed into Facebook.
It was August 2018, and we were in Bali, where our peaceful family time had been interrupted by an earthquake, of all things. While badly shaken, luckily we weren’t in one of the worst impacted areas. But it felt like the final straw.
You’ve probably been there. Those times when you’ve been keeping it all together and then, suddenly, it all catches up with you.
Back on that hard, hard day, I knew it had been a few months of fairly epic amounts of getting stuff done.
Business was thriving, but that meant my to-do list had multiplied; we’d welcomed new team members and grown the community. We’d unexpectedly had to move house, packing up all our belongings and putting them in storage before travelling halfway round the world to Australia. The restful break we’d planned in Thailand on the way out featured our entire family (me included) getting totally wiped out by a gastric bug… and now, on our way home, the earthquake.
When it all gets too much? Reach out
So I did what I often do when it all gets too much – I reached out to the One of many community.
The place where some of the most capable, competent women I know come to be vulnerable, admit we’re human, and ask for help. (If you’re not in it, and that sounds like what you need – come join us! Here’s the link).
And, of course, the ladies there did what they always do. They rallied.
Within hours I was looking at a huge list of virtual hugs, practical support, and some of the most grounded advice I’ve received. And today I want to share with you 7 of the best bits of advice I received. So that when you feel like it’s all too much, and you don’t know how you can keep going, these virtual hugs can make a difference to you too.
7 ways to feel better when it’s all too much
1. Write a list
This was the first thing I did – and wow, did it feel good! Off the top of my head a total of 31 things I’d achieved in the past 7 weeks came pouring out – everything from packing up our house and moving it into storage, to nursing the family through gastro – and the important detail that I’d not slept for longer than 3 hours since my daughter was born over a year ago!
Writing things out doesn’t change them, but it’s a powerful way of remembering just WHY you’re so tired. And I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to spend more time staring at the list of everything I haven’t done than the amazing things I have.
So go ahead: write out everything you’ve been up to lately: your wins, big and small, the unplanned challenges, and all the little energy-draining things that you’ve been managing.
I bet you’ll be pretty impressed when you consider it all!
2. Show yourself some love
The love I felt from the community who took the time to write comments, send heart emojis, and generally let me know I was seen and valued, was something else.
And the person I really needed to love me… was me.
We’re all so supportive of each other. And yet it can be easy to be much harder on ourselves than we would a friend.
Next time you’re having a rough day, think about what you’d say to someone you loved who found themselves in your situation.
Would you tell her to go gentle? Take it easy? STOP?
Take your own advice, and give yourself some of that loving care and attention.
3. Feel it in your body
Loads of women reminded me that after an intense experience like an earthquake (or shock, or burnout, or meltdown), it takes time for the fear and stress hormones to pass through your body.
Massage, exercise and deep rest are so important to allow our bodies to process.
When it all gets too much, it can be tempting to try and “think” our ways out of it. Often, what we need is quite different.
If you’re menstruating, consider where you are in your cycle. That’s not to invalidate your feelings, but to acknowledge the impact that our physical bodies have on our emotions. Listen to what they have to tell you.
Ask yourself: what does my body need right now?
Movement? Rest? Touch? Chocolate? Dance? Rolling around on the floor?
And then do it.
4. Be honest
If there’s one thing I learned from sharing my story it’s that so many of us have been through these moments. Maybe even all of us.
Telling people you’re feeling wiped out does two things: it allows you to bask in the amazing love and support, and it allows others to know they’re not alone.
When it all gets too much, don’t isolate yourself. Reach out, no matter how.
Post on social media, tell your neighbour, answer honestly when someone asks how you’re doing.
We’re all in this together.
5. Ask for help
“Delegate for all your worth!” was one comment.
I love this, because it reminds us that when we’re exhausted it’s time to lean on the support that’s always out there for us. My tip? Be specific.
I need you to cook dinner.
It would be so helpful if you could babysit the kids for one hour while I take a walk outside and let out how I’m feeling.
I’d love you to read through this email and tell me what the person is actually asking me to do.
Make a list of the things you’d love to get help with, and ask as many people as you can for help with them. That way if one person says no, you’ll have someone else who’d probably love to help.
6. Keep it simple
Soft Power Principle #1 is this: Rest and replenish.
In other words, don’t try to solve the world’s problems (or even just yours) when everything’s on top of you. Eat something, for the love of god, and get some rest.
(“Go to bed and sleep until YOU wake up” was one piece of advice I loved.)
Promise your anxious brain that everything will still be there when you’re back on form – and I promise it will seem ten thousand times more manageable.
7. Remember all the tools you already have
The one big thing I learned? That the practices and routines I ALREADY had in place were my biggest weapon. Here’s what one of our in-house coaches reminded me:
“There is no way you’d have been able to do all this without looking after yourself along the way… You built up all these energy resources and a support network which has enabled you to achieve and cope with so much. Now it’s time to rest and recharge and be grateful for it all”
She was right. I hadn’t got to the point of burnout, because the tools I’ve been using along the way were so powerful they’d allowed me to stay replenished through it all.
They were what made this a low point rather than a total crash.
Do you have a set of strategies or practices in place to support you if life took an unexpected turn? If you don’t, our free resources are a great place to start.
When you’re so tired you could cry, what happens next?
And so, I took the advice I was given, and that my heart and body were telling me to do:
First I replenished my energy. I had a massage that very afternoon, followed by going to bed early – and I spent the hour on the massage table dreaming about what I could possibly not do, and the following days asking for the support I needed to make that happen.
It wasn’t an overnight fix. Some of the challenges I had took a bit more time to sort out.
But I was able to get there, using the amazing support our community gave me – and whatever you’re facing, I have no doubt you can do the same.
Who would you call?
If you could do with an energy boost, some extra motivation, or tips on how to navigate taking care of yourself along with everything else on your plate, then join me for Momentum. It’s a 2-hour live workshop to help you turn good intentions into sustainable action – without tipping yourself into burnout.
Our intention is simple. To support professional women to handle the day-to-day so they can unleash the bigger impact they feel called to make in the world.
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