This year has started out a little rougher than I had expected.
I’ve shared in the past how I’ve developed “adrenal fatigue” type symptoms from hustling for worthiness and up until recently I felt like I had really moved on from that type of lifestyle.
Over the past year I had been feeling positively about my body image, flowing in my business, happy with my friendships and community, and over-the-moon in love with my boyfriend/fiancé.
For a while things in my life felt really good. I had a lot to be grateful for and I was riding an emotional high for much of 2016.
I thought 2017 could only be better. Yet the year hasn’t gotten off to the best start.
Stuck in the hustle
Lately, the emphasis on the hustle has reared its ugly head in my life again.
This has led to exhaustion, frequent illness, and even negative emotions such as depression and anxiety.
Case in point: I’ve already been sick twice and we’re barely 6 weeks into the year, which is incredibly unusual for me when I’ve gone months and years before without getting sick.
The oddest part about it is that objectively I should be excited and joyful about the positive changes that are coming my way. But for some reason I felt more stressed than I thought made sense given my external circumstances.
A few days ago, after some extra thinking (and praying) about the struggles I’ve been experiencing, I came to a realization.
The main reason I’ve felt so stressed lately is because I’ve been taking a “work hard” approach to everything in my life. And it’s NOT working.
Not only do I work in my business when coaching clients, but I’ve recently started doing extra work ON my business with the help of some business coaching.
I work on my body, whether that be through eating well or training hard.
I work on my relationship with God by setting daily reminders to read the bible, volunteering at church, and trying to learn how to live a more Christ-like life.
I work on planning, organizing, and budgeting for my upcoming wedding.
I read articles on marriage and constantly look for ways to work on my relationship with my fiancé.
As I started to explore all the different major facets in my life, I realized that I’ve been applying a “work” mindset to everything that’s important to me.
Even things that really didn’t need or benefit from that type of mindset.
The best example of this that came to mind is the way I’ve been approaching my relationship with my fiancé.
The frequent message of “marriage is hard work” that I kept getting from well-meaning family and friends convinced my stressed-out brain that if I wasn’t working on my relationship with Josh, that things would certainly fall apart.
The fear of “not doing enough” to have a good relationship pushed me back into the hustle mindset.
So instead of just enjoying an easy relationship with my supportive, loving fiancé, I turned it into work.
I actually created extra stress out of nothing in response to the belief that love relationships are always “hard work.”
When I was thinking about this completely unnecessary stress, I thought back to some advice my business coach had given me last year. He wanted me to think about this question in regards to my business: “Can you let it be easy?”
Well… Can I let it be easy?
I realized that one of my biggest struggles lately has been allowing life to be easy and dropping the hustle and “work” mindset as much as I could in the areas of my life where it wasn’t helpful.
The most obvious place to do this first was in my relationship with my fiancé.
I shared my feelings with Josh, who understood why I would feel that way but gently reminded me that I don’t have to work so hard to keep our relationship thriving.
He assured me that he didn’t love me because of the work I was doing on our relationship, but because of who I am right now.
And while he appreciated my effort and desire to have a great relationship, he was more than happy for me to relax and enjoy our relationship and let go of the belief that I had to earn any of his affection towards me.
(Clearly I hit the husband lottery with this man… 💖)
While this will take time for me to approach my upcoming marriage with less of a “work” mindset, I know it’ll make a huge difference in my ability to enjoy my relationship without having an agenda of improvement or forcing intimacy, which seems like an oxymoron really.
And there are lots of areas of my life that I could apply this “work less” mindset to that would allow me to have a less stressed-out life.
While there’s nothing wrong with working hard on my business or my goals, I realized I need to start resting in those areas of my life that don’t benefit from working hard.
Like my relationships, or even my health.
But I’ve been asking myself lately…
Do I even know how to rest?
I don’t mean sleep or lay around (Listen, I am a pro napper, let me tell you…)
I mean actually engaging in the deep soul rest that comes from letting go of the hustle for worthiness and chains of perfectionism.
I recently read an article in The New York Times called Let 2017 Be the Year of Working Hard and Resting Hard.
In it, the author says:
“I know this sounds like crazy talk, but we can do it. Make it a priority to be human again — to work hard and to rest hard without buying into the idea that we’ll fail at life if we rest.”
While I’m not a huge fan of the term “rest hard”, I realized that I too struggle with the fear of failure if I really give up the work hard mindset.
Do I actually know how to “rest hard”?
Do I ever really let myself rest, not just physically, but mentally? Emotionally?
Perhaps you too resonate with this lack of rest in your life.
Maybe you’re a mom with a part-time side gig who is also involved in way too many extracurricular activities because she doesn’t know how to say no.
Maybe you’re a guy who’s working 70 hour weeks at the office because you’re afraid if you take a day off, you’ll miss out on a promotion.
Maybe you’re an engaged, nearly 30 year old woman like me, and you secretly worry if you don’t constantly put effort into your relationship with your fiancé that your marriage will be doomed from the start.
My question for you is this…
where (and how) can you bring rest into your life?
Can you take a little pressure off yourself to be perfectly fit and skip the gym once in a while?
Can you remove some of the arbitrary diet restrictions you’ve placed on yourself that don’t really benefit your health and make you feel anxious every time you eat?
Can you approach your relationship with your significant other in a way that doesn’t assume that things need to be improved or fixed?
Can you shut your laptop down an hour early and get in bed by 10PM?
Can you skip the housecleaning this weekend because it’s not a huge deal if your house is a little messy and you need some down time?
Can you ask for help when you need it? (Hint: we ALL need it.)
What does rest look like in YOUR life right NOW?
As for me, I’m starting with my relationship with my fiancé because it’s the easiest place for me to let go of the “work hard” mindset. I’m learning how to trust that his love for me isn’t based on my efforts and I’m choosing to let that relationship be easy and enjoyable, as it should be.
And I know there are other areas of my life where I could make things easier and not feel like I’m falling behind if I’m not working on every single area of my life simultaneously.
For example, I can read the bible without feeling stressed if I skip a day or two. I can shorten my dog’s walk that day if I’m feeling sick and don’t have the energy to walk farther. I can put off finishing a client’s notes until the next morning so I can get off the computer before 8PM.
Rest may not come naturally to some of us, but it’s so important to balance our work with adequate rest, and it’s the only way we can continue to work on the important things that do need us to put in effort.
So I’m committing to resting more where I can, letting things be easy, and eliminating stress where it doesn’t need to be.
How are YOU going to rest more? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!