When The Active Lifestyle Stresses You Out:

I wasn’t surprised when the comments and e-mails started rolling in after my Active vs Passive Lifestyle post. “But…” “What if you take it too far?” “Won’t I be straining myself?” Understandable questions. If you take on an active and busy approach to life, aren’t you going to arrive at a moment where you just want to drop everything and crawl under your blanket?

Well…hopefully, not. Hopefully, you will be able to take your rest long before that breaking point, my dear reader. This is one of those things where you can only find the perfect middle ground through experience, topped with a little trial and error here and there. You won’t know until you try.

But I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Because in my active lifestyle, the activity includes taking the time I need to relax and recharge. Yoga classes, lots of sleep, making healthy foods, quiet alone time or an energizing cup of tea with a friend. My active lifestyle contains more active, mindful opportunities to unwind and unstress than my passive lifestyle.

When I’m being so passive, I postpone everything to the last minute, shit piles up and before I know it I have to do 3210 things in one day. And THAT is what really makes me exhausted and burnt out, with NO time to take care of myself! Hence, the passive way stresses me out way more than the active one.

I have more energy around the clock by taking the active approach. Also, and this is going to sound crazy (but hey, you’re not new here, you know the drill) I made a deal with The Universe about this. No joke. If I notice I’m getting overwhelmed, I just tug an imaginary cord and before I know it, something happens to make me feel relaxed. A friend cancels on me so I can have an early night in with some well-deserved sleep. A deadline turns out more lenient than I thought it would be. My boyfriend has cleaned the house and/or has done groceries. I figure out a trick to do my job more efficiently and faster. Something always reveals itself to make it easier.

Now this is just me, but you’re welcome to try it. I have just made the deal with The Universe like “Yo guys, this is a little too much: Can you make something work, alright? I trust the best will happen for all parties involved. Thanks.” Sounds nuts, but whatevs, it works. Just strike a little deal. The Universe is flexible.

You gotta know your own boundaries too, though. If you tire easily, obviously you need to built in a lenient rest-margin. If you can’t have too many obligations in one day, you need to cut that shit short and only have one or two big different tasks a day. However, I can guarantee you that if you use your active time optimally, you will use that rest with a much more satisfied sense of well-being!

And most importantly, when is it too much? I personally think that’s actually a very simple answer. “The moment it doesn’t make you happy anymore, and I mean when it actually makes you feel deeply stressed, miserable and unhappy, that‘s the moment it’s too much.” That’s when you need to cancel some appointments, set aside your work and friends and take good proper care of yourself.

Everything before that? As long as you do it smiling, functioning, and with only the occasional big sigh or grumpy comment that you mean for the duration of a less-glamorous aspect of your job, means you’re doing the right thing and can handle everything just fine.

And let’s be serious: You don’t really need me to tell you when it is too much. You are fully capable of deciding when you’re a gazillion percent done with something. I’m sure of it.

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3 comments

  1. “You gotta know your own boundaries too, though.” Dat was precies wat ik wilde gaan zeggen. Ik ken mijn grenzen wel, maar ik ontken ze liever. Ik heb een heel erg belabberde belastbaarheid en soms weet ik dat ik ver over mijn grenzen heen ga en toch ga ik door. Waarschijnlijk omdat ik bang ben niet goed genoeg te zijn met wat ik wel kan doen. Dit kan hele vervelende vormen aannemen, zoals de situatie waar ik nu midden in zit. Morgen begint mijn stage (een speciale kans voor mij als Wajongere) en ik zit nu al stuk. Ik kán niet meer. Maar ik ga de stage wel proberen en ik heb mezelf (weinig waard) en mijn moeder (veel nuttiger) beloofd om meteen duidelijk aan te geven hoe het nu met me gaat. En dan ga ik – actief – op zoek naar een oplossing.

  2. Herkenbaar, als ik het een tijdje te druk heb verval ik in slecht eten + Jersey Shore kijken in mijn pyjamabroek en een ‘fuck you all’ gevoel. Maar omdat ik op het moment niet precies doe wat ik het allerliefste doe vind ik het soms best zwaar om alles vol te houden en mijn best te blijven doen. Dan moet ik mezelf juist oppeppen om actief te blijven.

  3. Funny, this afternoon I knew everything was too much for me! I was actually feeling miserable and could burst into tears every moment. I decided to call a friend I didn’t spoke for ages, got the books I needed for a paper and drank a chai latte. Then I went home to take a nap, even though I needed that time to prepare myself for a presentation. I said to myself: “I had to chill and don’t asked too much of myself (I am highly perfectionist.. that’s good, but sometimes I can go way too far and exaggerate) and enjoy the study and be happy for what I achieved. There are more things than high grades and your body is more important (I am an expert on doing too much my body can take). But you can’t be productive or do your work properly feeling that miserable.” Eventually, it worked!! I just finished my presentation, which is not perfect, but it will do. And tomorrow it is a brand-new day full of opportunities 😀