How to Recover From Your "Busy Season"
Before I tailspin into my tales of woe, I want to thank all of you for being so patient as I take some much needed time off!!!
In reality, it wasn’t really time off - more a shift of priorities. Life was insane, and blogging was slowly becoming a chore – A MAJOR RED FLAG!! So I did what other brave bloggers have done before me: I took a step away from writing and dealt with my crazy life.
Today I woke up late, got a cup of coffee (as fate would have it, I chose my Blogging Day mug), and took a walk around my house while listening to the monsoon of a rainstorm outside. No TV. No phone. No music. Just me. Embracing the stillness.
Suddenly, I felt it. That all-knowing tug of creativity - the one that's been missing for close to two months - pull me towards my computer. That persistent, demanding tug that’s one part madness and two parts a really warm hug.
So I opened my Word doc - the one on my desktop titled “Vulnerability”, my running ledger of potential post materials – and lo and behold, I discovered a short blurb I wrote two weeks ago.
~Allow me set the scene~
Two weeks ago, I was in my office, door shut, listening to the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King soundtrack on Spotify, bawling my eyes out like a child.
Why? Because I had Busy Season PTSD.
The hardest part of being busy isn’t the act of "busy-ness" itself, but the after-shock when suddenly your schedule clears and you find yourself watching the clock, wondering what you can do to fill up that half hour void of nothingness - that hour block where previously you had fall classes to create, rehearsals to run, performances to practice for, recitals to organize… And now you have nothing.
When that high of adrenaline fades, you suddenly are left dangling your feet over that expanse of Emptiness - and then it hits you like a sack of bricks to the gut: you’ve been operating like this for months on end, and you’re one second away from plummeting..
This was what I wrote two weeks ago:
"My busy season has come to an end.
1) The musical is over. OUR CAST/CREW SLAYED.
2) DNOW Youth Conference is done – all 28 hours of rehearsals + worship sets played, all within a three day weekend.
3) Tracked vocals and violin samples for our live album “Nothing is Impossible”! Everything is finally recorded! You can check out more information about our album at www.wadehuggins.com. Launch is scheduled for May 27th.
4) Easter weekend come and gone- a normally frantic music-filled weekend for musicians everywhere, this one being no exception.
5) Mum’s birthday successfully celebrated with a luxurious day of massages, family, and Brazilian steakhouses!
6) My students’ Spring Vocal Studio Recital was a huge success.
So… what now?
I'll tell you: tears and raised blood pressure and bloodshot eyes and a missing hunger response, that's what!
I’m a mess. Fluctuating between feeling raw and numb, to sobbing uncontrollably, to mad-crazy joy of being able to watch an hour’s worth of my favorite TV series at 6pm – a time where normally I’d be beginning our nightly 3 hour rehearsal.
I keep catching myself pulling up my TO-DO List on my phone, comparing it to the 2nd TO-DO List on the wall next to my office desk (which, now that I think about it, seems redundant and unnecessary), seeing if maybe I managed to overlook something vastly important and pressing that I could power through the next hour.
This makes me sound like a masochistic nutjob.
It’s like my mind has become hardwired to run on adrenaline at all hours of the day. I can’t fall asleep earlier then 11:30pm, and when I finally wake up, I’ve hit the snooze an ungodly amount of times that I barely make it to work with all my makeup on. Food doesn’t taste good anymore, but I keep eating because I know I need to in order to keep moving.
What’s wrong with me?"
So needless to say, I am definitely BETTER then I was when I wrote that. But there are still mornings where I wake up with my heart racing in my throat, wondering what deadline I forgot or what lesson I missed or beating myself up for not having a full summer gig schedule.
Here's my question: Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we consistently pile up item after item, agenda after agenda, until our schedules spill over with “stuff” to do??
Because it makes you feel productive.
It assuages your need to be good at something.
To feel wanted by others.
To feel like what you do in life matters.
AND IT’S ALL ONE BIG F-ING LIE.
We’re not wired to run at this speed. We’re not meant to be multi-tasking at the rate we do, switching between iPhones and Macs and iPads and TV's, jumping around on 3-4 applications at once, working on multiple projects, juggling as much as we do. Because when it boils down to it, I found out:
-It doesn’t make me a better person to only see my husband when I wake up in the mornings or go to sleep at night.
-It doesn’t make me a better singer to stack gigs one on top of the other to the point of vocal strain and exhaustion.
-It doesn’t make me a better Christian to sing/play/volunteer to the point of burnout – continuously trying to pour from an empty cup.
So How Do You Recover From This?
1. AVOID IT by Learning to say NO.
This is very hard for me because A) I want to do everything, and B) I don’t like disappointing people. I feel like if I say NO, then other’s will think poorly of me. There’s this unspoken competition amongst adults, where we try to outbusy others around us, like it’s some sort of game. Newsflash: the prize for being the busiest of them all is sadness and tears.
Allow yourself to take some time and BE SELFISH. Withdraw physically (stay in bed for a day and watch Netflix), mentally (disconnect from all tech – no Facebook, no Twitter, no Snapchat, NOTHING), and emotionally (crying is GOOD! It allows you to rid your body of built up stress).
3. Take a walk
Exercise can be daunting with a full schedule, so do something moderately active while calming those raw, overfired neuropathways. Reconnect with nature. Go walking at your local park or school – or hell, just walk around your building for 10 minutes. Get out of your office/cubicle/corner, away from that blaring white computer screen, and shake those cobwebs loose from your brain.
4. BE HONEST with family and friends about what you’re going through.
There’s a good chance that they already know your stressed out and strung thin. It made all the difference to me knowing that my hubby and mum were there to help me when I needed it – whether that be a shoulder to cry on, a magically clean house, a hot meal when I came home late from rehearsals, or a day spent perusing bookstores and antique shops.
5. Practice hyper self-awareness.
A lot of times we don’t realize when things get bad, and you end up missing those tiny telltale signs: racing heartrate, raised blood pressure, extreme emotional mood swings, burning muscles after normal, non-strenuous activity, difficulty in completing routine tasks, inability to multi-task, insomnia, difficulty in getting out of bed on time, fluctuation in weight, periods of hyperactivity followed by bottoming out (crashing). You can save yourself so much grief if you pay attention to these red flags - these are your body's way of telling you you're pushing too hard and you need to stop NOW.
If I had given up one – okay, maybe two… - things on my schedule, I would have had more energy and time to spend on the things that matter – date nights with my sweet hubby, Girls Day Out with my mum, volunteering at church events with a happy, healthy heart, crazy wedding weekends with our friends…
The biggest thing to remember is that you can’t be 100% for your family, work, or friends if you’re taking on too much and stretching yourself too thin.