Everybody has strong emotions from time to time. Some may show these emotions and others may bottle them up. Over the last few months, I’ve been experiencing intense amounts of stress, anxiety, and sadness. These emotions manifested in my body as feeling sick, lethargic, and unmotivated.
What I didn’t realize is that in the past, these emotions do not typically happen to me all at once. I usually experience one of them at a time. It wasn’t until I took some time-off for the holidays that I realized I was thoroughly burned out. I had little motivation to work yet I still felt stressed. I had no energy to give to my family yet I still felt anxious. The combination of these things ultimately led to my sadness.
I never gave a name to these feelings. Why was I feeling stressed although I wasn’t working? It made absolutely no sense to me. Until one day I asked myself the question of “Why am I feeling what I’m feeling right now?”. It turned out that I was still thinking about work even weeks after being off. I realized that I would continuously think about work problems and never gave myself a chance to detach from it.
I gave my feelings a name. I associated these negative emotions towards being burned out. Overworked, overstressed, and all of this is my own doing. It gave me much more time to reflect upon these feelings and go into the near year with preventive measures to protect myself from these feelings.
No more working past working hours. No more overcommitting to things I can’t contextually switch to in an average day. No more extended office hours to go through other people’s todo list in my email inbox.
Why say no to these things? Because upon further reflection, I realized that much of my anxiety and sadness was due to not having enough time to create for myself. When I’m most creative, I’m also the best version of a dad to my kids. To me, these are the type of things that when looking back to are the things I should’ve done much earlier.
The realization I had was that when I would acknowledge my emotions as they happen, I can take action and understand more about myself. I can take responsibility of dealing with these negative emotions before they lead me to a downward spiral. These are all tools that I now have. I can then change my behavior to be the best version of myself.