Behind the Facade
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Behind the Facade

Embracing the life hangover

We’re taught that burnout applies to work-related activities only, but I’m proof that it can apply to personal life as well.

Photo by M. on Unsplash

I don’t drink. At all.

Like, I had one sip of champagne at our wedding and still kind of regret it.

Yet, there are more times than I can count that I wake up feeling like I’m dealing with a hangover worse than the morning after a college party. It can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days or weeks where opening my eyes feels like the ultimate challenge after getting a quick glimpse of the early morning sunlight peeking through our blinds, the rooster in the next neighborhood is up early, its cock-a-doodle-doo way too loud, and standing up to get out of bed takes a mental pep talk.

A few days ago, I woke up feeling this way and just knew I had a hangover. A life hangover, that is.

The past couple of months have been a rollercoaster of emotions. On top of dealing with work stress and, you know, daily life, I jumped into a few new projects the same way I do with everything: head-first and all-in, so much so that I quickly burnout.

With Medium, for example, I wrote and wrote and wrote then published and published and published day after day until, one day, I just couldn’t anymore. Add in reading these aloud on a podcast and then writing a book about a recent traumatic experience and let’s just say I reached my limit.

Part of the challenge is that I was writing and talking about topics that were pulling so much out of me physically, emotionally, and mentally that I was drained in every sense of the word. The bigger challenge is that, with hobbies like writing or podcasting or even gardening or working out, I don’t realize I’m burnt out until it’s too late.

I think part of the reason I dive into all of these hobbies so strongly and quickly is to distract myself from feeling my feelings, knowing and anticipating how overbearing they’ll be. Even writing about anxiety and depression is easier than processing them alone, I guess.

This week, I tried something new: giving myself grace and embracing the life hangover. I took a break from giving 200% and only gave 100%, which is completely novel to me.

I showed up at work, did what I had to do, and then gave myself time to just be in my downtime. I asked myself what I needed in each moment and did that. At one point, I wanted to take a nap so, rather than pushing through like I normally would, I laid down and slept for 45 minutes. Most of the days, I didn’t have the energy to work out so I didn’t force myself to. A couple of times, I just sat outside, closed my eyes, and let the sun warm my body. It’s so rare that I give myself permission to just be, and it felt really freeing in a way.

After a few days of moving slower than normal, I slowly started realizing that I was ready to ease back into life. I started craving a workout. I had energy to go to the grocery store. I wanted to eat healthier, move my body and meditate again.

For the first time maybe ever, I let my body and mind guide the healing process — and in the end, I realized that giving myself a chance to just lean into this season of overwhelm and burnout made me feel more me than I have in a long time.

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