One of the biggest things I used to struggle with was the thought that everything had to be finished today. Of course not in the sense that the world would end or that I literally wouldn’t survive if I didn’t, but that’s how my mind experienced it. There was pressure from performing at work and there was pressure that I put on myself. I remember even putting fun things like baking a cake on my to-do list, and I would rather do it today than tomorrow. Not because I could enjoy it so much at the moment, but because I could cross off something I thought I should do (that is, enjoying).

I still find it astonishing that my mind and the stories in it had so much power over my life. Even though I can laugh about it now, I can still feel the pain of what it was like then. And I know there are a lot of people who are feeling the enormous pressure of everything they have to do right now. Self-imposed or imposed by others. Resulting in stress and sometimes burnout.

The first aid for an overactive mind used to be making lists. To-do lists that just kept getting longer, you know that? Lists that became confusing. Making a new list again.

Setting priorities, determining urgency, choosing what should be done and what not, and having realistic expectations. Helpful for a day or so as the task was off my mind, but no longer than that.

Or thinking that once task a or b is done, once you get that promotion, or once you have a more helpful colleague/partner/… that things would calm down. It never turned out to be true.

Nothing wrong with (hard) work, of course, but I am now much more aware of the energy from which I work. Is the way of working a survival strategy? Fear that I will fall short or not be good enough? Do I feel like I am a victim of the situation or do I have healthy control over where I act?

For me, that process of becoming aware contained the solution. The previously mentioned techniques were temporarily helpful, but ultimately only a band-aid for arterial bleedings.

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