Many of us have been there – hunched over a teeny laptop at 9pm, clutter all around, while trying to fit in some work between the kids’ bedtime and when you eventually crawl gratefully into bed. There’s an gnawing feeling in the pit of your stomach. You subdue it with another McVities and a scrawl through your notifications. You consider a glass of red but that’ll be three nights running and you’re not that person. You return to the vitally important email that has to be sent, now. Tonight. It’s gone. And exhale.
An email notification pops-up. Damn you ultra-fast network, the laptop was almost shut. It’s a response from a colleague. She’s new and super-eager. You briefly consider leaving the email unread and going to bed. You should really tidy the kitchen. The dishwasher needs reloading and it would mean you wouldn’t need to rush in the morning.
Just a quick peek and you’ll respond in the morning. She’s made a good point, it’ll look like you’re unsure if you don’t respond now. It won’t hurt. Several emails later, it’s midnight and the four year old will be up at 6. The kitchen’s a tip and you haven’t sorted the washing. You feel a rage building up as you think, I shouldn’t be the only one left with this. Your partner slunk off to bed an hour. You angrily get changed, disturbing him from deep sleep. As you pull the covers up the gnawing feeling is back. You force your breath to slow and deepen. It helps. Sleep comes slowly and fitfully. It then all starts again.
Laura’s top tips to deal with overwhelm before it takes over:
Protect your sleep: lack of sleep often makes everything feel worse. You end up being short-tempered and are more likely to make mistakes. Set a bedtime, create a bedtime routine and avoid stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and tech as the day progresses.
Confide in someone: the preference is your line manager and your partner, if you have one. They can help you make immediate changes. If you don’t have support in these areas then look at your wider support network or at independent support, like counselling or a coach.
Practice techniques to build emotional resilience: worry can be one of those things that can wake you night after night but it can also be easily resolved. Worry leads to stress and anxiety. Over time it can cause other mental health illnesses, such as depression. Techniques that help reduce levels of worry include journaling, mindfulness and exercising daily. Working with a therapist or coach can further help you develop strategies to create a natural resistance to worry and effectively deal with stressful situations.
If this feels familiar and you like the sound of work/life balance but think it’s an unachievable vision then contact me, Laura Kingdon. I’m a Workplace Wellbeing Coach and specialise in optimising the workplace so that you can give your best at work and in life. This may involve looking at you work environment, practising ergonomics, organising yourself and communicating effectively.