|When my phone rang the other week I was excited to hear the voice on the other end. It was Diane, my first roommate in Montreal who had disappeared from my life when she decided to go to culinary school several years ago. Now a professional chef, this former take-out junkie was painting pastries while I was still focused on helping millions of Americans cut out their carbs during my extended stint in the diet industry.|
It only took minutes before she blurted out the words "I'm exhausted," which for me conjured images of a primer, plumper Demi Moore from that scene in St. Elmo's Fire where she said something along the lines of "I never thought I would be this tired at 24." But at 37, it was not a make-believe Hollywood coke habit that Diane was tired of supporting, it was the demands of life faced on her own.
There's no denying that the constant pressures of single living can slowly chip away at the soul. Almost everyone I know, male or female, has reached that tipping point at least once in their lives. But you know the saying too much of anything is not always a good thing? The same principle holds true when it comes to your life. That's because being over or poorly committed will often trigger anxiety as well as feelings of detachment and disappointment. When this happens, you need to examine if you are being properly nourished by yourself and those around you.
A good place to start is by checking your calendar. If it's always booked solid with superfluous appointments or plans, then keeping busy may be a coping mechanism you use to avoid being alone or disappointing those around you. The problem is that being "occupied" does not necessarily yield the return on investment you need to feel satisfied. To the contrary, it can leave you emotionally and psychologically empty.
Amidst all the obligations, it's easy to lose touch with yourself. The key to staying centered is finding time for commitments that matter and mean something to YOU. When the world gets too overwhelming, something as simple as touching a wall or taking a shower can help restore a sense of connectedness. That's why it is important to find outlets for creative expression, physical activity and contemplation.
To carve out the personal time you need, set boundaries and realistic expectations by saying no to others and yes to yourself more often. You may also consider investing dollars so that you can get help completing the tasks you most dislike and the ones that drain you.
You may also need to take a careful look at your inner circle and ask yourself if the people that are closest to you genuinely validate, support and care for your best interests. Many individuals make the mistake of surrounding themselves with people based on their history, familial ties or social benefits. Unfortunately relationships cannot thrive when they are built on only those terms.
In order to restore your energy, distance yourself from those from whom you have grown apart, are constantly taking or who leave you with feelings of inadequacy, even if it is your bossy and very married older sibling. This may seem harsh at first, but trust that you will gain more strength by having fewer connections that are more meaningful. Think of it as if you were building a human fortress - it's far better to have a few people who safeguard and fortify you rather than an army of many who deplete and weaken you.
These tactics may not be a cure-all elixir, and they ought not be used to completely isolate yourself from interacting with others, but keeping commitments and connections in check will help you mitigate the risk of emotional burn-out and that's more than I can say for any diet I have ever been on.