I’m like a koala who woke up on the wrong side of the tree.
I’m irritable, unmotivated and deeply antagonistic towards anything resembling an adult responsibility. Today, small problems seem big.
The WiFi goes down and I can’t quite work out whether to pull out my hair, weep in frustration or “fix” the modem with a hammer. I decide instead I will move somewhere very remote and live in a yurt… only I can’t just get on eBay and buy a yurt because the stupid internet is down.
I plug and unplug the modem in an impotent rage, impatiently waiting for the little green lights to appear so I can connect with the world I don’t want to connect with and get busy doing whatever useless thing it is that I don’t want to be doing.
Keenly aware that a cantankerous cloud has enveloped the apartment, my wife asks, “what’s going on there?” with a mix of sweetness and concern that I find instantly annoying.
“I’m just… over it” I manage, whilst giving the stupid modem light death-stares as it stubbornly refuses to turn green.
Whilst this exceptionally non-specific, non-scientific form of self-diagnosis may appear of little value, recognising that you are indeed ‘over it’, can be a small but useful first step.
Next time you are ‘over it’, there are some simple actions you can take to make you feel more yourself and less like a surly marsupial.
1. Stop playing pretend and talk with someone
Many of us have made an art form of pretending we’re fine. Somewhere along the way, we’ve been taught the best way of ‘dealing with it’ is to silently suffer, whilst playing pretend and refusing to acknowledge any difficult emotions.
A far braver and more resilient action is to reach out for support. An honest chat is much more useful than any amount of bad acting. It can lighten our load, serve as a release valve and allow those closest to us to do more than just play along in our game of pretend (whilst they walk on eggshells and wait for the thundercloud to pass).
You may choose to chat with a friend, a loved one, a trusted workmate or anyone who has your back. Many people also choose to make use of their organisation’s employee assistance program, talk with a peer supporter, book in with a GP or arrange an appointment with a psychologist.
If you don’t know where to start the conversation, start with “I’m just over it”. Consider why you may be feeling this way and try to spend a maximum of about 3 minutes ranting about the unreliability of your Internet service (it gets fairly boring, fairly quick). It can be very useful to think about a few small actions you can take to change things up and get things moving back in a direction you want.
2. Stop trying to stuff it all in & get some proper rest
Imagine your waking hours are a suitcase. Is there any space available or is it stuffed so full that you need to sit on it, squishing the contents down, while you awkwardly force the zipper around, inch by inch, before collapsing in an exhausted, sweaty mess?
Trying to pack too much in is an incredibly common problem. Our jam-packed waking hours are bursting at the seams with busyness, which makes it really hard to find space for joy, spontaneity, creativity and all those things which actually make us feel good. Instead of ever being in the moment, we are constantly racing towards the next one.
When we’re feeling over it, we should carefully consider what we can take out of the suitcase. When free from the weight of excessive doing, life can suddenly start to feel a lot more manageable and far less exhausting.
To help us recover, one of the very best things we can do is sleep. Getting enough of the good stuff can do wonders for our mood and mental wellbeing.
We can also give our brains a break by scheduling time away from devices or stopping for a short session of mindfulness. Regularly taking time away from everyday responsibilities can be another great way to re-charge, so be sure to get your holidays booked in.
3. Stop trying to do what’s expected and do it your way
Often, we become ‘over it’ when we weren’t really that into it to begin with. Our life path may be guided far more by parental expectations, peer group pressure and societal norms, than it is by our own sense of what we actually love. Take the normal, sensible option too many times in a row and life may just seem a little ho-hum.
There are many things that hold us back from the bold actions we might be aching to take. We worry about fitting in. We worry about what people will say or think. We worry that people will worry about us.
Before deciding to do the next thing, we can ask ourselves “why am I actually doing this?” If it is all about other people’s opinions, we may like to reconsider. When we free ourselves from the shackles of expectation, we can often find a way towards the things that bring us excitement, joy and that lovely feeling of being truly alive.
4. Stop looking after everything but yourself
Unfortunately, there’s a curse in conscientiousness. This powerful force ensures we go to great lengths to be a good employee, a good partner, a good parent or a good friend. It drives us to look after our bills, look after our lawns, and feed the goldfish on at least a semi-regular basis. But it is only after we have looked after absolutely everything else, that we tend to think about looking after ourselves.
It’s easy to become fed up with an existence in which your needs and desires are constantly put last. One of the greatest acts of self-care we can all take is to re-prioritise ourselves. If Friday night fire-twirling is your thing, make it a non-negotiable in your diary. If there is a choice between going snorkelling or mowing the lawn on your day off, let the lawn grow a little long or ask someone else to take care of it!
Self-care is about far more than just eating right, sleeping well and getting enough exercise. It can also be about learning to say ‘no’, establishing some solid boundaries and keeping your conscientiousness in check.
Engaging in self-care is a fundamental act of resilience, which enables us to take nurture the most important values in our lives. We simply cannot consider self-care as just some reward, which only kicks in whenever we reach the end of our to-do lists.
5. Stop tuning in to all that’s wrong and take some time out for wonder
When we spend a significant proportion of our lives watching horrendous news stories or doom-scrolling on our phones, things can seem more than a little sucky. In recent times this has become a real problem. Powerful tech companies have realised that the best way to keep us hooked, is to keep us outraged, and have set about filling our feeds with things they know will spark anger, anxiety and concern.
It’s wise for all of us to consider what we are tuning into and what effect it is having upon us. Most of us have had probably exceeded healthy levels of doom and disaster and it is very understandable that many of us are ‘over it’.
While constantly tuning in to such material has a predictably poor effect on mood, when we walk away from our devices, we can experience a very different world. There are wonders to be found everywhere, from the warmth of the sun, to the sounds of birds, to the smell of the road after a summer sun shower. Whenever we take time to mindfully appreciate these things, we are pouring ourselves a restorative cup of joy.
Research shows that regularly practising mindfulness and gratitude, can bring about some profound changes. Instead of feeling ‘over it’ we can start to feel much more ‘into it’ as we appreciate the many small things that make life good.
Even if joy feels elusive, appreciating these small moments can make a very real difference. If you continue to feel non-plussed by the warm sun, sweetly singing birds or any cute little puppy dogs that cross your path, it can be extremely worthwhile to return to suggestion 1 and talk with someone you trust.
Remember, reaching out is always an act of resilience.