When you are under a lot of stress and your mind is whirring relentlessly, it’s hard to remember to do all those simple things that calm you and make you feel better. I’ve been having a tough time lately both at work and in my personal life, juggling a lot of extra stuff on top of being an already busy single mum. My approach to most things in life is to just knuckle down and get on with it. It generally gets me through, but I have a sure way of telling when stress is getting to me; I can’t sleep.
Normally I fall asleep like a log and stay that way until my alarm goes off. Lately, I’ve struggled to fall asleep and then woken up in the small hours tossing and turning. When you’re busy during the day, it’s easy to push thoughts and feelings under the rug and pretend they’re not there. But in the quiet of night they pop up again like a jack-in-the-box demanding attention.
Writing as self-therapy
Today it struck me that I have been ignoring the most obvious tool in my toolbox to deal with stress – to write about it. Doh! A great way to get perspective on what’s worrying you is to write to yourself as if you were advising a friend. For mysterious reasons, we always have lots of thoughtful and sensible advice to give others, but none for ourselves. Writing to yourself becomes a form of self-therapy.
The issue that’s been going round and round in my head lately has to do with a persistent doubt about having done the right thing and made the right decisions. So I wrote to myself, providing the general wisdom and advice I freely offer my friends but rarely myself.
Self-doubt is tangled up in a complicated web of past experiences, lack of confidence and a worry about being judged. It’s amazing how much clearer a situation becomes when you step out of your own shoes for a moment and look at yourself and your problem more objectively. Through this writing exercise, I found that I am a strong person and a good mum and shouldn’t shy away from fighting for what is best for my kids. I told myself I should trust my gut, stand my ground and never forget that every decision I have made and will make has my boys’ best interest at heart.
I think I’ll take that advice. And hopefully sleep better tonight.