Millennial Minute: “Never get so busy making a living, that you forget to make a life”
A few years ago at a media leadership forum, I heard this quote, “When you die, your inbox is still full.” At that point in my career, I laughed it off and thought, yup. But this has never rung more true for me in the last week.
Like most of us, I am one of those people who know I could do a better job with managing stress, anxiety, and mental chatter. Honestly, I have known for the last two years at least that my mind doesn’t naturally take a break or slow down. I even sleep with mental chatter, so much so that when I wake up it starts right back where I left off the night before. Constantly thinking, wanting to do more, feeling like I cannot possibly take a break because “you can sleep when you die.” And in the last week more than ever I realized, I will die if I don’t truly sleep, or take a break, or unplug from work, or manage my stress better. Literally.
Like many of you, I am a naturally driven. I obsess over everything to make it just right, to hit every single goal, and take on more than I should sometimes (maybe more than sometimes). And multi-tasking? Oh, I’m your girl. I can multi-task my obsessions every day, something as small as picking out the perfect piece of furniture to buying my first home and everything in between.
But that’s what happens when you are a hard worker, a leader, a driven person right? I was raised to do twice as much to get half as much as your counterparts. I am supposed to go above and beyond at all times. And let’s not even talk about being competitive. I am my biggest competition and my hardest critic. I know I am not alone in this. It’s like being a train, barreling through every stop, and then one day (and it’s not just because of a couple days of barreling), you get derailed. That was me last week.
I felt myself derailing for a while now, but once it starts affecting you physically, there is no stopping the accident. I have been blessed to not spend a lot of time in hospitals and doctor’s offices unless it was for something specific or an annual check-up. Last week, I spent 4 out of 5 days last week in the ER, Urgent Care, Cardiologist, and primary care office and had four new prescriptions (names I have never heard of). How did this happen in my 20’s? Chasing the goals without taking care of myself.
I thought, but I was taking care of myself. I eat healthy, got back on my water increase, reading a book a month, morning prayer, and even found myself back in the gym (about) 3 times a week. Check me out. But when was the last time I unplugged after work? Or took an uninterrupted vacay? Or said no to something? Or took a weekend just to relax? Or had the kind of sleep where you forget what day it is? Crickets…
So, to all of my super driven Millennials, a couple pieces of advice to NOT follow my train:
Throw away perfectionism. We were not created to be perfect. I know a lot of us strive for this, creating this weight on our shoulders. But the reality is, you will never be perfect and if you continue to hold yourself to this truly unrealistic meter, you will never have peace. I am not saying be a slacker. But, know you will succeed and fail and have triumphs and trials, but this is life. Do the best you can every single day and give yourself a break sometimes. Funny note on the topic of perfectionism.. my mom (not knowing at all that I was writing this article) sends me a text about a study she heard about on the rise of perfectionism with our generation which has lead to increases in mental health issues, anxiety, and even depression. Mom’s always know man. So I started looking up article on it and there are several. One to check out if interested.
Workout and Mediate. Maybe it’s sweating it out in the gym, or taking a yoga class, or adding 15 minutes a day to just be still and meditate. Find your happy place physically and mentally that allows you to release and think clear. I just started a daily meditation app, takes all the guess work out of “how to do this?” There are several, see what works for you. But if nothing else, take time for yourself to be mentally at peace and physically active.
Unplug and be Present. It’s hard, I know. Many of us don’t even realize that we operate so heavily on our devices and in our work and other obligations. Some nights, leave work at work. Next vacation, challenge yourself to really be on vacation. Take time for you and to be present with those who matter the most. When we were little, timeout was a bad thing now as adults it’s good and necessary.
Positive mind chatter. You can use every technique written and discussed and proven to man in the world to decrease your stress, but your mind is the most powerful way to escape this. Keep the mind chatter positive and as soon as doubt, fear, anger, or frustration pop up, release it!
There are so many more actions you can take, the bottom line is, find what works for you, listen to your body, and know when you need to take a break.
Side note, my co-workers are awesome. I came back to work after my crazy week and had this on my desk. “50 Ways to take a Break.” Will I do all of them? Maybe not, because I’m not climbing nobody’s tree. But will this help me? Yes. Sharing is caring, so enjoy!
Until next time, stay dope Gen Y!
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