I love the first few days of the Autumn school term. It feels hard but good to get back into the swing of things. The kids are more motivated to get ready for school after the break. The house is clean and organised. My inbox is empty and I was looking forward to getting back into the first full week back in the routine.
But four days and a weekend back into the school routine and I found myself at the bottom of a deep, dark funk.
I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t know what to eat. I didn’t know what to wear. I didn’t feel like exercise. I didn’t feel like chilling out. I didn’t want to work. I didn’t want to cook. I didn’t want to read. Basically, I just needed to climb into a big dark hole and hope that I would get over it.
There was nothing I could do to snap myself out of it but I did my best to fight it because I felt I had a lot of work to do and needed to get on with it. I couldn’t waste another week after the 6 week break.
I made lots of to do lists. I made a timetable of my weekly routine. I attempted a brain-dump. I spent hours on Pinterest searching how to get out of a funk. I compiled random spreadsheets of lists…I achieved absolutely nothing…it was the ultimate in procrastination.
I couldn’t even switch off, my brain was in such a heightened state, presumably from all the cortisol coursing through my body. If I tried reading something the words wouldn’t go in. I tried doing logic puzzles but I was on such high alert I found them easy and unsatisfying. Even my daily walk with the dogs was not helping unclench my tightened jaw and thumping headache.
I literally spent hours just staring at my computer screen or my phone screen with literally nothing and everything going on in my head.
It wasn’t until later in the week when I was out with the dogs again, I was feeling drained and really over feeling like this, that it occurred to me that perhaps this is a thing and this thing was something that I couldn’t actually fight. All I could do is ride it out.
I also realised that if I was feeling like this then others probably were too.
By the time I had got home I had written this whole blog post in my head. I quickly scribbled the gist of it down in my notebook and headed off for the school run.
I often wonder about the work/life balance myth. Does it actually exist? This is a whole other blog post <add to list> but generally for most people, work is so fully integrated with life (especially if you are self-employed) that I’m not sure balance is ever possible. Luckily for me I can take a step back from my business and providing that the basic administrative tasks are dealt with my classes are planned in advance and I have been doing what I do for long enough now to be able to shelve any baggage I am carrying, put on my game-face and deliver my classes.
So this is how I got out of my funk…or how I am getting out of my funk (because I’m not quite there yet).
All I needed to do was stop. Stop everything. Stop trying.
I needed to keep things simple, focusing on the tasks that I had to do in the immediate future. So when I got back from the school run that day I made a cup of tea, hung some washing out, helped the kids with their spellings and reading and cooked dinner. Nothing else needed to be done, my day was done.
I spent the next few days focusing on this, drinking plenty of water and making sure I got some good sleep. I forgot about trying to fix things. The weekend was spent at home focusing on home stuff and no work at all other than the things I needed to do.
This week has been considerably better.
I have two days during the week which are dedicated to work. I made sure I had a clear plan what I was going to do each day. Tuesday was all admin. All the little things that I do when I’m procrastinating and trying to avoid doing some of the bigger more daunting tasks. Thursday was about creating. Writing blog posts and working on the things that make my business what it is. Writing this post was the only thing on the list today…so here I am. I made a plan for the other days of the week, nothing too overwhelming and made a promise to myself that once the tasks were complete I could spend some guilt free time watching the TV, reading or doing absolutely nothing.
The tension has gone from my jaw, the headache has passed, the lethargy is slowly dissipating and the energy levels are rising. I don’t know why I was in a funk in the first place, there was no singular reason for it, it just happened and I went to hell and back trying to fix it.
All I needed to do was stop.