You're drained – completely exhausted and just plain over it.
Whatever it may be, I've been there. We all have in one way or another. Life takes a detour, throws you off course (perhaps into a crash), and now, you're left trying to pick up whatever pieces weren't shattered by oncoming traffic.
I could write a book on all of the obstacles I've recently overcome. I could sit here for days, pouring my heart out over the tears I've shed and sleep I've lost in the process. I could list in vivid detail the tragic things I've seen, heard and dealt with in the past few months – drudging up awful memories in your head that you've been trying to drive out of your brain for a similar amount of time.
I could do a lot of things to empathize with you, but if you're anything like me, you're tired of sadness. You're sick of waking up in the morning and wishing you didn't have to deal with the day ahead. You're sick of receiving sympathy and pity, and you're just ready to feel like yourself again.
I was too, and I was sick of waiting for a miracle to happen that would cure everything. Like a house that had been turned upside down, I wanted things back to how they were before, when everything felt like it was in its place – untouched and undamaged.
But, how does one put things back in their places when some of those things are broken or missing or damaged beyond repair?
Well, when the dead cold of winter has finally passed and it's time to scrub the salt off the floors, out comes the mop and bucket. If we can spring-clean our homes, we can refresh, re-evaluate, revive, and rebuild in other areas of our lives, too.
Let's break it down with a simple mental checklist:
This is when you should take a step back and process what the hell just happened.
Stop and think what exactly is stressing you out. Sometimes, most of our stress comes from trying to wrap our brains around the situation and how to fix it rather than from the situation itself.
Temporarily step away from what you can, even if it is just for a few minutes or a couple of days. Fight through what you must and take the deepest breath you possibly can.
Eliminate unnecessary plans, commitments or obligations. Hit the refresh button, drink a glass of ice-cold water and focus your mind on yourself (again, even if it's just for a few minutes or for the rest of the day).
Tip: If you have obligations for which you must be physically present, excuse yourself and go to the bathroom. It's a quick and simple break to recollect your thoughts enough to keep going.
Now that you're coming out of the initial shock, you can evaluate the aftermath of the wreckage.
Some people find comfort in having a shoulder to lean on while others prefer to be left alone. Keep in mind that isolating yourself to heal requires stepping away from everyone (including those you care about the most) in order to get your head on straight.
If they're important to you and care about you the same way you do for them, they will understand that you need this time to re-group. If they don't understand, it might be best to re-evaluate their status in your life.
In addition to people, take a look at other things in your life. Are you letting the wrong things take precedence? If so, why? Make sure you are keeping your priorities wholesome and realistic.
Stress can only consume you if you let it, so start by developing a mindset that helps you control it instead of the other way around. Don't be afraid to say, "No."
You cannot be selfless if you do not put yourself first every once in a while!
Tip: Anytime you make an important decision, ask yourself: am I doing the right thing? If not, re-evaluate.
Once you've re-evaluated what is or is not worth reviving, you can start collecting some of those pieces laying all over the road.
It is up to you to decide where you're going to focus your time and effort. You've finally re-prioritized and decided what parts of your life need the most attention, so you can begin to polish them up before you piece them back together.
Who/what brings a smile to your face? Where/when do you find yourself the most at peace? Answering these types of questions help you focus on solving rather than dwelling on the problem.
Tip: Do something you haven't done before or have always wanted to do (big or small). You never know what new opportunities can thrive from a simple step outside of your comfort zone.
Just because some pieces may be missing or beyond repair doesn't mean you can't put them back together.
Besides, why would you want your life to be exactly the same as it was before, when you were in a constant state of irritability and upset? Aim to reconnect the pieces you've salvaged into something new – something refreshed, re-evaluated and revived.
You've finally taken the time to mentally stabilize yourself, so it's time to reconnect.
What passions or relationships have you taken a break from that you want to rekindle? Have you been putting your best foot forward at work and/or school? If not, what can you do to improve?
Think about the people from whom you've distanced yourself. Keep in mind that although they may have understood why you chose to step away, their lives were not put on hold while you were gone. Reach out and see how they're doing – maybe they've been experiencing something similar and could use your support, or maybe they'll just be glad to have you back.
Putting space between you and another person is bound to change your relationship. Just be sure to keep communication a priority – it's the key to strengthening any connection. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
Tip: Don't make excuses for your decisions or beat around the bush. Be confident and clear about how you feel, but keep an open mind. You cant expect others to understand where you're coming from if you don't give them the same respect in return.
Life is a funny thing and works in all sorts of crazy ways. We can't control what it throws at us, but we can definitely control how we react.
There is no time limit for any of these checkpoints. This is simply a guideline I wish I had when I was struggling to pull myself out of a rut.
Remember to trust your own judgement. Move on when you're ready, and don't be afraid to ask for help. Refresh your mind, re-evaluate your priorities, revive your passions, and rebuild a stronger you – just please don't ever regret!