I saw a great article the other day; it talked about how we should stop glamorising over-working.
It hit home, hard.
I work a full-time job, high-pressured and do all the hours…and extra hours…that come with it.
To be able to pick up Evie from school on the days that I do, I work crazy hours to catch the time back up.
Throw in exercise, managing an Instagram page, YouTube channel and website as ‘The Breaking Dad’, seeing my girlfriend, her kids, and making time for ‘me time’ and, well…the maths doesn’t quite stack up.
Matter over mind.
I’m ambitious, like many other people.
Driven by the desire to give my daughter the best life I can possibly give her, I try to use my time as effectively as possible.
Problem is: There just isn’t time for everything.
I don’t know about you, but I regularly over-do it.
Curiously, I don’t ever feel stressed. I like to think I’m quite a laid back chap, more so over the last few years – I certainly never used to be.
I know when I’m stressed because my body tells me before my mind does.
My eyes start flashing as if I’ve been staring at a light for too long. Warning bells go off in my head because that’s the first signal that a migraine is coming on.
My body goes into shut down, and I can do nothing but lock myself in a dark room until it passes. The next day always feels like a hangover.
100% attention, 100% of the time.
If you look up the job description for ‘parent’, it’ll tell you that stress is par for the course.
When we’re with our children, they expect (deservedly so) 100% of our attention, 100% of the time.
“Daddy, can you get me a drink please?”
“Daddy, I’ve done a poo!”
“Daddy, can you pass me the toy that is literally within arm’s reach of me?”
On top of this, you have the continual worry that your child will injure themselves. The moment you look away, they’ll slip, trip or flip over the only object in the room. It’s inevitable.
I don’t know about you, but whether you work, parent full time, or balance both…It’s bloody stressful.
Dealing with Stress
We all need to take time to recharge our batteries.
I can’t lie to you and tell you that this is something I’m good at, I’m not.
But over the last two years, I’ve tried to focus on my mental wellbeing. That’s because if I’m in a good place, I’m a better parent to Evie.
If you haven’t tried meditation before, I can’t recommend it enough.
Meditation is a process that helps you to clear your mind of thought by focusing on the present moment.
You can try both of them for free, and I really recommend them; meditation got me through some very low periods in my life.
Now I just use it help alleviate some of the pressure I tend to put on myself.
I often find that by the end of the day, my head feels really tight, like somebody’s squeezing it.
Meditating for 10 minutes every day helps me to slow down the pace and focus on what matters.
Outside of the difficult circumstances we’ve faced surrounding lockdowns this year, I’d ordinarily use exercise as my outlet.
I won’t bore you with the science stuff, but there are tremendous benefits for your mental health, as well as physical.
Exercising releases ‘feel-good’ chemicals which help to regulate your mood – dopamine and serotonin (as well as others).
I’ve always struggled with body image and had an interesting relationship with food as a teenager – I genuinely believed that to look good, I needed to look as thin as possible from the side.
It wasn’t great.
As I got older, I discovered exercise and my relationship with how I viewed myself improved.
Now I find that exercise helps me in a number of ways.
Spending time with people I love
Being a Daddy is the biggest stress release for me. Whatever is going on in my work or personal life, my focus always falls squarely on Evie when I have her.
Really, it’s a form of mindfulness. I stop thinking about the past and the future and focus squarely on the now: Making sure my little girl is OK.
I love being with Evie, even though spending the day in parent-mode certainly does have its own challenges.
That’s why I try my best to make time just to switch my phone off and relax with my family and friends as often as possible.
As much as I love working, sometimes it’s important.
Make time for you
Overworking isn’t glamorous. There’s a subtle art, which I certainly haven’t mastered yet, to working hard.
It takes a more holistic approach than most of us are used to.
Putting in the hours at work or looking after your kids is a noble cause, there’s no doubt about it. HOWEVER, if you burn out, you’ll be grumpy, less effective and less valuable to the world around you as a consequence.
Take that work ethic of yours and spread it across your personal, parenting and work-life and strive for balance.
Only when you invest time in all three of those things, will you recognise your true potential, I imagine.
I’ll let you know when I manage it.