Do you resist taking breaks?
Is there way too much on your plate to even consider resting?
Do you occasionally make a deal with yourself thinking, “once I get all of my work done, THEN I’ll rest.”?
I used to do the same thing.
And if I’m honest, I still have those thoughts sometimes.
As an ADHDer, goal-getter, and idea machine, I often don’t want to slow down.
I want to keep pursuing the next possibility or dream I’ve dreamt up.
And I get annoyed that I’m a human who also needs rest.
Can you relate?
If so, I have an important message that you may not want to hear.
Are you ready for it?
One way or another, your brain is going to rest.
You cannot work all of the time.
Why? Because you’re a human and not a robot.
So you can schedule intentional downtime to recharge your batteries.
Or you can push yourself to the breaking point until your mind and body force you to rest.
The choice is yours.
But I’ll let you know from personal experience that the former option is significantly more enjoyable.
In episode 115 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast, I help you identify:
- Whether or not you’re overworking in your life
- What might be driving that behavior if you are
- How to create more space for rest
You can listen to the episode above, or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here:
Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.
In This Episode, You Will Discover How To Identify…
- Whether or not you’re overworking in your life
- What might be driving that behavior if you are
- How to create more space for rest
Links From The Podcast
- Sign up for your free consultation with me here
- Learn my top 6 strategies to boost your focus and concentration (free training)
- Get the top 10 tips to work with your ADHD brain (free ebook!)
- Discover my favorite ADHD resources here
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Episode 115: Are You Overworking And Stressed Out? Learn How To Slow Down With ADHD (Transcript)
Hello everybody. Welcome to episode 115 of the podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in today. How was your week?
This episode is going to be on the short and sweet side. I want to talk with you about a concept that really landed for me just a couple of months ago back toward the end of June. And what I mean by the statement that it “really landed” is that it was no longer just a concept that I understood intellectually. Instead, it became a truth that I could actually feel in my body. I seemed to fully grasp the concept and the lightbulb finally went off.
Do you know what I mean? It’s like when you’ve heard somebody say a concept or a phrase over and over and you understand what they’re saying on a surface level. But then you hear it enough times, or you have an actual experience that brings it to life, and you think to yourself, Oh. Yes. Now I really understand what you’re saying here.
It’s kind of like when I work with clients and we run some models for the very first time and they recognize the truth that their thoughts actually create the results in their lives. Rather than knowing intellectually, “I know when I think I don’t have enough time it’s not useful for me.” It’s when we actually run the thoughts through the model and see: when I think to myself “I don’t have enough time,” that thought makes me feel discouraged. When I feel discouraged, I go on social media, I distract myself with more instant gratification things, and I avoid the task at hand. And when I’m taking those actions, I am the one wasting my time. I’m the one creating that situation where I do not have enough time. It’s not my circumstance. It is my thought about.
And the lightning bolt a-ha moment that I experienced toward the end of June revolves around this concept of taking breaks. And the reality that truly hit me was that my brain is going to take a break whether I want it to or not. So I can either make intentional space for a break and actually enjoy it, or my brain will take the break for me when I had not planned for it. And if you’re like me, that often looks like unintentionally scrolling social media or procrastiworking. I might be hyperfocusing on an unimportant project and not doing what I planned. And then beating myself up for it.
And this type of procrastination is not because I am lazy. It’s not because I can’t stay focused. It is because – as I have said on the podcast before – I’m not a robot. And my brain needs to rest and I need to recharge. So again, you can either make intentional time for a break and enjoy it, or you can plow through your work nonstop until your brain forces you to take that break.
Now, this has been a very common topic of discussion with several of my clients recently. And usually, when that’s the case, I have a feeling that it will likely resonate with the podcast community as well. So, today we are diving into this concept more deeply, and I hope that by the end you will not only understand the concept intellectually but perhaps feel the truth in your body as well.
Now the overarching umbrella obstacle for so many of us who identify as high achievers and goal-getters is that we really resist taking breaks. And there’s a whole bunch of reasons why we resist taking these breaks.
On one side of things, we may be super passionate about what we’re doing. And we want to keep pursuing the ideas and the goals and the projects that come to us.
In addition, we may have taken on too many projects. Maybe we’ve gone over our time budget, and because we’ve over-committed ourselves, there’s literally not enough time in the day to get everything done. Because of that, we resist the idea of taking a break because we’ve over-scheduled our time.
There is also a lot of societal conditioning around hustle culture. There’s a lot of messaging around the importance of always being productive. Many of us have been taught, in some shape or form, that being highly productive with our time is to be celebrated, and then our black and white thinking loves to pit that thought against resting.
Work VS. Rest
In other words, if we are meant to celebrate being highly productive, our brain often goes to the extreme and categorizes resting as being lazy or bad. It’s almost as if we put some sort of morality around productivity. There’s even that phrase that floats around: idle hands are the devil’s workshop.
And with all of this conditioning, we have learned to resist breaks. We’ve learned to tell ourselves, “I don’t have the time. I’m entirely too busy. There’s no way I could possibly take a break right now. Everyone else seems to be able to get it done, I should be able to as well.” And because we tell ourselves these thoughts over and over without ever questioning them, we push ourselves to the limit. We push ourselves toward burnout. And even though our brain and body are asking for that rest, we say no.
Now, here’s the hard truth. Eventually, whether we like it or not, the brain will rest. But as I mentioned before, rather than taking that intentional break where you actually enjoy your time and spend it in the way that you want to, we instead end up procrastinating or procrasti-working so that your brain can recharge just a little bit.
It’s kind of like when your phone is down to the last two or three percent battery. You’ve had the alerts that it’s about to shut down. You’ve ignored the alerts to go into low power mode. And instead, you plug it in for five minutes just to give it a little more juice to keep it going to the end of the day. And you do that rather than plugging it in for the entire hour or two that it needs to fully recharge. We do the same thing to our brain and body.
Rather than allowing ourselves to fully recharge, we do these quick breaks of social media scrolling, or email checking, or laundry folding. And when we push ourselves to the limit long enough, we end up doing this type of procrasti-work all day long rather than working on what we scheduled for the day. In essence, we’ve spent the entire day running on quick 5-minute charge boosts while flitting from task to task without completing any of our intentionally planned work. And then we beat ourselves up for “not getting anything done that we wanted to do.”
4th Quarter Hustle
The reason why I think this is such an important concept to explore – especially at the time of this recording – is that we have entered officially the fourth quarter of the year. Teachers and students are fully back into school, businesses are in their fourth quarter of sales, the holiday season is coming up.
This is a time when we often feel the urge to push ourselves to the limit. We feel that urge to hustle and get all of those last-minute things completed. And we often reject our body’s and our mind’s plea to rest and fully recharge so that we can take on all of the additional tasks that tend to come up at this time of year. (Though of course, this concept can apply to whatever time of year you are listening to this episode. It doesn’t have to be 4th quarter to feel that urge to hustle. As I mentioned before, the messaging is all around us.)
So we are in this busy season, and our brain offers thoughts like, “I need to keep up. I need to keep pushing. I can’t possibly stop. And I just need to make it to the end of the day, to the end of the week, to the end of the month, to the end of the year. Once I get there, then I will rest.”
But here’s the reality. When we don’t take the time for rest, it shows up in our everyday.
So maybe you push through exhaustion each day, but by the end of the day you’re so fried that you struggle to hold it all together. Because you’re experiencing such uncomfortable emotions and you don’t want to deal with them, you check out by throwing on Netflix, grabbing a glass or two of wine, and zoning out. We have no interest in dealing with our emotions, so we numb ourselves with something else.
And I want to make a disclaimer here, that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with watching Netflix and enjoying a glass of wine. That can be a lovely and relaxing thing when you do so intentionally.
What I see as a warning flag is when we are so burnt out that we need to buffer away the negative emotions. We feel the urge to escape our emotions and put up a buffer around ourselves by zoning out for hours in front of Netflix or social media rather than going to sleep and actually resting. Or engaging more often than you’d like online shopping or having wine or eating ice cream to get that quick hit of pleasure and dopamine rather than examining the real cause of the negative emotion, which is likely the lack of rest and care for YOU.
Or if you can power through the day, maybe it shows up at the end of the week. You’ve pushed yourself super hard and you haven’t rested. You’re low on sleep and haven’t had time to yourself. By Friday your brain feels like a pile of goo and literally can’t focus any longer. I know I’ve been there; it’s not a fun time.
And so, again, we check out. Maybe we spend our Friday procrasti-working in our inbox or scrolling the news headlines. Maybe we tell ourselves, I’ll get started right after I finish putting away the dishes or going through the mail or finishing this game on my phone. Famous last words.
And this pattern continues. It continues into your months. Your quarters. And before you know it, your time is slipping by, you’re asking yourself, what on earth happened here? You no longer feel in control of your time.
And I often think one of the sneaky challenges here is that we don’t see it coming. Maybe we manage to stay on top of things for quite awhile. We have the adrenaline that keeps us going. You’re getting things done, you’re living on autopilot, and you’re not really slowing down to even consider how you’re feeling. Instead, you just keep repeating the same thoughts that “you need to keep working. There’s no time to stop. There’s no space for rest.”
And if you need evidence of this in your life. If you’re questioning whether this actually applies to you, think about a time when you were focused on a big project or you had a long-term bout of intense activity.
Frankly, this applied to me with every semester from college onward into working as a professor. I would run on adrenaline to get myself through this semester, and by the end of the semester, once finals were done and I’d submitted grades and I’d completed all the feedback on papers, my body would crash. I would usually get sick.
In these situations, it wasn’t just my brain seeking space to recharge and rest. In this situation, my entire body forced me to slow down and rest. The same thing happened when I dealt with some serious burnout in 2016 and 2017. It was a complete and total forced rest because I hadn’t stopped to recharge my batteries along the way.
To use another analogy, it’s kind of like the difference between taking your car in for regular oil changes and tire rotations vs. ignoring the small symptoms in the car that seem a little “off.” It’s ignoring the squeaking noises when you use the brakes, or the battery is growling a little bit longer when you try and start the car. But rather than pausing to see what’s going on, you just keep driving it hard.
Eventually, the car will stop working, and you’ll have to bring it into the shop. And if you’ve ever been in this situation before, you know the damage both in terms of how much time it will take to fix it, and the cost of that labor bill is significantly higher than if you did the regular upkeep.
I’m telling you, just like a car with a hefty repair bill, so often our days or weeks or months of work that seem less focused or less productive than we’re used to are the result of inadequate rest. We have not given ourselves adequate downtime. And because of this, our brain takes a break whether we want it to or not.
How to Stop Overworking
So, what can we do here? How do we deal with this situation? Well, step one is to truly recognize this often-uncomfortable truth. You need to rest. And to check in with yourself about what you think and how you feel about it.
If we put in our circumstance line of the model “planned rest.” And- as a reminder – the circumstance is something that is neutral and factual. So if we put planned rest in our circumstance line, what are your thoughts and feelings about it? Do you feel resistance? Do you feel frustrated or anxious or overwhelmed at the thought of taking planned rest? Again, objectively you might be on board. Objectively you might think to yourself, that’s great! I love this idea.
But when you put it into practice, are you willing to slow down and rest? Are you willing to put aside the time to intentionally stop working and rest your mind and body?
Admittedly, some of you are quite skilled at this. You’ve already done the work. You’ve learned how to create this space for intentional rest. But for those of you who still struggle with it. For those of you who fill your calendar to the brim. And for those of you who neatly time block every single hour of the day with something productive – I see you. I know you. And I was you. I can also promise you that staying on this trajectory is not going to create the end result you want.
So I’m going to say it one more time for the people in the back in hopes that it lands with those of you still resisting this idea. You can either intentionally schedule time for rest and actually enjoy the experience. Or you can push yourself through, feel exhausted along the way, and unintentionally rest when your brain and body force you to do so. I’m telling you from personal experience, the former option is SO much more enjoyable. And if you haven’t given it a chance yet, I recommend giving it a go.
And for those of you who do struggle with slowing down and intentionally making space to rest and recharge your batteries, let’s talk. Head to imbusybeingawesome.com/coaching and sign up for a free consultation. I’d love to help you make space for your goals, get your work done, and carve out time for rest and play. I’m not going to lie; it can be an uncomfortable process along the way. But I promise you it’s worth it in the end.