Time to recover my sanity, by reducing the stress that has led to this slow descent into a state of burnout.
To the point where even simple things like a phone call or an email arriving brings a feeling of dead and anxiety. Fear it might be a complaint, a demand for money or even fear it could be a new enquiry from a potential client! Cannot carry on like this.
I got to this point by soldiering on regardless of the clear signs that something had to change. I tried instead to put my prices up to make it more worth the strain and stress, and I increased my self care activities, good food, exercise, positive company, attending workshops, getting mentors and therapists.
All helpful, and I’ll continue with these, but by not addressing the cause, these activities actually allowed me to continue with an uncomfortably stressful situation.
Now that I have chopped my business in half and reduced the workload, I am already feeling relief. It was simply too much responsibility for too long with too few rewards. I thought I could keep this up indefinitely. But doing business turned into a slog.
I can feel myself recovering already, and it’s giving me a perspective on what has been happening to me. I’ve started enjoying the work again. I’m doing one project at a time, not two or three. And I can give my full attention to each project as it is built. Half the problems, half the running about, half the clients, half the designs, the invoices to be processed, the pricing, the phone calls, meetings, bills, lowered insurance soon, vehicles reduced from 4 to soon to be 2….
I have been slowly crashing. Crashed enthusiasm, energy and ability to focus. This business has been a massive and exhausting undertaking and it has been going on relentlessly for 15 years. The last few years have been particularly tough too. Resilience has gradually become reduced, and I just have not been coping the way I used to.
I thought I had some mental health disorder, well I do, but it’s not what I was suspecting or fearing, depression or an anxiety disorder. Though if this had carried on for much longer it could have ended up there as my overall mood slid lower.
I have been studying depression and anxiety on my course, and treating clients with depression and anxiety, and while I have some elements of these states, feeling low, anxious, and occasionally not even wanting to be alive. However I think and I have just about caught myself in time.
And now it’s about making those big life changes I was putting off and lightening the load.
Im trusting that this will work out. I was too afraid to downsize in case financially I wouldn’t survive. But I will make it work by reducing expenses and paying more attention to details. An attention I haven’t had much of the last couple of years. I’m admitting that I have barely been coping.
So I do feel lighter already. I was even dancing to great music last night, spent hours sitting by the river with the dog in the sun with an old friend, and I’m definitely not feeling anxious all the time!
It’s early days though. I’m in recovery. Being tender and gentle with myself. The anxiety hasn’t completely gone. I feel a big space opening up before me, instead of the tight constricted one I had created by taking on too much, for too long on my own.