Here she is. I apologise in advance if today’s post is a little all over the shop – I get the feeling that it’s going to be a bit of a brain dump/ word vomit concoction. I guess I feel like I need to get a lot off of my chest and give you all a little bit of an insight into what’s been going on in my life lately. Mainly as a way of processing what’s going on in my head whilst also reminding myself of the importance of taking a step back from time to time.
I like to think that I’m a very bubbly, upbeat, optimistic, happy-go-lucky kind of gal and whilst I feel like I am all of the above (99% of the time), anyone who knows me will also vouch for the fact that I wear my heart on my sleeve. And despite the fact that I’m an absolutely terrible liar, I really struggle to admit when I’m not okay (to myself as well as to others), even when it’s written all over my face for the world to see.
Don’t get me wrong, my bubbliness isn’t a facade – it’s more of a coping mechanism if you will. You see, I hate being vulnerable and I hate feeling like I’ve let people down. I know, I know, who doesn’t? But I’ve always been the kind of person who tries to put everyone else before themselves. I like to be the problem solver, the shoulder to cry on, the fixer-upper.
But lately I’ve realised that even the fixer-uppers need fixing too from time to time. Sometimes we just need to put our hands up and admit that we can’t do everything (no matter how hard we try). Sometimes we need to tap out and take a step back – give ourselves a break. We need to let ourselves be helped by our own fixer-uppers and lean on the people around us.
If you know me personally or follow me on Instagram, you will know that at the end of last month we had to say goodbye to our beautiful best boy. Romeo was poorly; we knew that our days were numbered and that the odds were never in our favour. But loss, in any shape or form is always absolutely devastating and completely knocks you for six – no matter how much you ‘prepare’ for it.
The truth is, I’ve been feeling a little lost lately. More often than not I’d tell myself that it was ‘one of those days’, never wanting to admit that I wasn’t really feeling on top form. Granted, I think grief has an awful lot to do with it, but at the same time I know that there’s more to it than that. I know that I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself, in all aspects of my life. I’ve been hard on myself – I’ve doubted not only my abilities, but I’ve also doubted myself as a person. I found myself questioning whether I was enough.
I found myself in a familiar place; a place that I’d found myself in not so long ago (which you can read all about here). As humans, we put a tremendous amount of pressure on ourselves. And there comes a time where we feel like we need to take some time out when the pressure is getting a bit too much. Sometimes we need to take a step back to be able to see the bigger picture, to enable us to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and move forward.
I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like to say no to anything or anyone – I am and always will be a people pleaser (I haven’t grasped whether that’s a positive or a negative thing yet). I like to be busy and so I’m forever agreeing to every social event, taking on extra responsibilities at work and always running at 100mph.
But I’ve started to realise that I’ve been spreading myself too thin. I never leave enough time for myself. My self care days are pretty much nonexistent and essentially my cup has runneth over.
As I said, I hate letting people down but I’m learning that sometimes I need to not fill all of my evenings with post work dinners or drinks and not spend weekend after weekend away from home. Not because I’m being lazy or a massive chocolate flake, simply for my own piece of mind.
Last week I went to a mental health awareness course with work and it completely opened up my eyes in more ways than I could even begin to explain. But one thing that was mentioned was an analogy about the stress bucket (stay with me).
You see, we all have a stress bucket and we all have an optimum level of stress (small amounts of stress is actually healthy). There are numerous factors that add to our stress bucket every day – be it work, commuting, our body image, personal image, mental health, relationships, to name but a few. But we all have things that we use to put holes in our bucket as a way of letting some of the stress seep out, such as exercise, reading, pampering etc.
Now, when too many factors are added to our stress bucket at one time, the bucket starts to overflow. And rather than putting more holes in our bucket (or taking more time out), when we feel stressed we automatically start to bin off the things that bring us relief. We fill in the holes in our bucket because we’re too stressed to go to the gym or read a book, but in reality we’re blocking up any form of release, meaning that our stress bucket continues to overflow.
This analogy really opened up my eyes. It made me realise that taking a step back isn’t a sign of failure or weakness – it’s a sign of strength.
If you feel like you’re struggling and like your stress bucket is overflowing, it’s okay. Don’t feel guilty for occasionally needing to put a few more holes in the bucket. Don’t be afraid to talk to people, to lean on those who love you. Don’t be afraid to take a step back, reprioritise and leave a few things off of your to do list. You can’t do it all all of the time.
So go on, put a few more holes in that stress bucket of yours – read your favourite book, run yourself a bubbly hot bath, paint your nails, make yourself go to the gym when you’re trying to talk yourself out of it. I promise you won’t regret it.