What Happened When I Pushed Myself Too Hard – And What I Learned From It
âItâs all too muchâ, I sobbed into my computer, talking to my friend back in Europe. He listened patiently as I listed off my complaints, from the very real â I was in Guyana which is a very dangerous country â to the absurd â my colleague was underweight and not eating enough and that was making me want to eat more.
By the time I reached that point, Iâd been living out of a variety of hotel rooms in Guyana for nearly two months. I was taking dingy, overpriced taxis around Georgetown and far up the coast teaching empowerment classes in schools. And yet I felt anything but empowered.
Too Much Pressure
Everything felt like too much pressure. I was carrying the responsibility of the project, which had been fraught with breakthroughs followed by setbacks since we arrived in the country. I was there with my above-mentioned borderline anorexic colleague. And I was woken up nearly every morning and kept up late at night speaking with local contacts. I was exhausted.
And in my exhaustion, I yelled so much frustration at my friend that it is a miracle he didnât run away from me forever. He listened patiently, told me we would make it better, and that he needed to think more how to help. And that made me cry even more.
Feeling Like a Failure
It hurts to write this, but I felt like a failure. I knew I also hurt him when I was so upset because he had pulled strings and opened doors to give me this opportunity. And now I was sobbing on the phone about how difficult it was. I felt I failed him and I failed myself.
But it has been three months since that incident. The project finished successfully, although not as originally planned. The next phase already started, but I am not participating in it. Although the project didn’t go as I originally envisioned, I did take away some important lessons from the experience:
1. Appreciate the Little Things
We can get so caught up in the big sweeping events like the forest fires in California, family illness, email hacking, or the death of a friend that we sometimes forget the little joy in life.
In Guyana, even with everything, I was eating delicious tropical fruits every day. I was able to visit the Marriott gym and swim in the pool a few times a week. And yet, instead of savoring those moments, I rushed through them thinking of what I had to do or what had gone wrong.
The first take away from my experience it to take a moment regularly in the day to savor the joy of what you are experiencing. That momentary connection can make all the difference.
2. Connect with Your Body
Part of my problem is that my sleep was disturbed almost nightly because of outside noises or early morning phone calls. But taking a few minutes to connect with your body can make all the difference even when you are short on sleep.
- Climb into bed and go to sleep at the first sign of sleepiness. Whatever you are working on can probably be done more quickly when you wake up in the morning. See more tips for getting a good night sleep here.
- Run, swim, bike, dance or move â fast. Because I wasnât able to go out I was getting less exercise than normal. I could have turned on music and had a private dance party in my room. Exercise boost endorphins, and therefore mood. Don’t make the same mistake I made – keep moving!
- Lie down on your back and just have your attention on your body for 2-3 minutes. This classic Yoga posture will re-connect you with your body and immediately make you feel more balanced. Itâs amazing how powerful this simple technique is.
3. Try Turmeric Milk
I realize this may be controversial, but Iâve seen several studies showing that turmeric is as effective as prozac in alleviating depression. I am not suggesting you self-medicate, but if you are feeling a little off or down, turmeric milk is a good first line of defense.
Recipe: Just mix about 1 cup of any milk (whole, almond, soy, whatever) with Â¼ teaspoon of turmeric and a tiny sprinkle of black pepper. Bring to a boil and sweeten to taste. I like to put this in the blender to make it more frothy. I usually add Â½ tablespoon of coconut oil and Â½ cup of water. Blend and enjoy.
4. Forgive Yourself and Try Again
Remember that we all make mistakes. We all push ourselves too hard. And probably many of us get imbalanced at times. Balance doesnât come overnight, but forgiving yourself can take the pressure off. Take a deep breath. Apologize. And keep moving forward.
And that is exactly what Iâm doing. While I still feel sorry for my actions to my friend and myself, I have forgiven myself and accepted that in that moment I did the best I could. Now I have better tools and better awareness to react better the next time I feel under too much pressure.
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Take care of yourself, and cheers!
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