November and December 2010 are two months I most likely will not forget. Work wise, they were insane, and affected me in a way I never thought work could. Not only did I physically feel stressed and irritated, but emotionally I was labile and had much less patience than I normally do. It's only since ending work on Friday for a two-week break that I've come to realize how unbalanced my life was. Yes, I used 'was' because the time has come to change things for good. There's no way I'm going back to feeling the way I did over those two months.

I've had some time to analyze the causes of the craziness, and realize that I brought all of that stress onto myself. So after performing a meta-cognitive analysis, here are my conclusions:

1. "If I don't do it, no one else will"
Oh this mentality is dangerous! At some point or another, we all think we're the only ones in our little universe who can do things, and more importantly, do things right! But it's so not true! And this little fear stems from one related to perfectionism and control. It's only when we realize that we are taking on too much that we can stop taking additional things on. Because at some point, someone else will have to step up and share the load. And hey, if it's not done the way you want it done, who really cares? After all, it's not affecting your job stability and overall happiness. But it will save you tons of time and pressure!

2. Your health comes first!
I've been told this again and again and again, both by co-workers and friends. Deep down I know they are right, but I get into this state of denial and don't think this idea applies to me! Oh but it does! Because the person having the breakdown doesn't often realize they are having one. And personally, I've learned that I show a lot about how I'm feeling through body language and gestures, so it's those around me who pick up on it.

So yes, your physical and emotional health come first. And in the past, I didn't seem to realize how much of a toll my life circumstances take on my health, but the past two months proved that they do. Stress is indicated in MANY physical and mental ailments, if not now, then down the road for sure. I've come to realize I'm not taking that risk anymore and just because I'm healthy now (Alhamdulillah), doesn't mean I always will be in the future.

3. Balance, balance, balance!
So there's a time wheel one can complete for 24 hours of the day, so you slot in your self-care, work, and leisure pursuits. Let's just say I won't be posting mine from the recent past, since it looked horribly skewed and contorted. Since the break started, I believe I've regained balance. True, I'm not currently working, but my 'work' time has been replaced by much needed productive tasks around the house and community. My self-care has increased, thanks to sleep, and leisure has too. It's amazing what balance does for one's overall happiness and wellbeing. And I'm working on a way to keep that balance throughout the whole year.

4. Surround yourself with positive people. Avoid negative people as much as you can.
Like a monkey on your back, people who are negative and suck a large amount of energy out of you are not good for your health. Trust me. I liken it to talking to a brick wall, and in some cases, banging your head against a brick wall. Not good. We all have to deal with these sort of people in some way or another. And I've learned that my energy is best used not trying to change them, but just communicating on an 'as needed' basis and then avoiding them like the plague the rest of the time. Sounds harsh, but I've found it works for me.

5. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
Oh, I've been told this phrase again and again. But my workaholic, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed personality who leaps at any new opportunity has had a hard time accepting this notion. Until now. It's sad to think that I'm feeling burned out only after 3.5 years of working. And most of the burning out has happened over the past two months, but it has been accumulating for a while now. I love my profession, and am passionate about my employer, completely believing in their cause and the difference we make in the lives of children. But no matter how fast I work now and how much I take on, there's always more in the future. And I'm learning to approach things slower and more deliberately, rather than trying to increase my output and productivity.

I've been reading Heba Alshareef's blog, at, and I really resonate with what she says about life and how as women, we really need to be in tune with how we are living our lives and the effects it has on us. I've even noticed that my extra-curricular pursuits are intense and require a lot of energy, so it's something I need to be more aware of in the future. I realize that I do need time for me, and just because I'm surrounded with family, doesn't mean that I'm fully all there when we interact. What I mean is that we need to fully listen to someone, be engaged in the present, and not have your mind wander to the list of tasks for the next day.

I am definitely one of those people whose profession and career is their life. But as with anything in life, and also as taught in Islam, I need to achieve moderation. And from the way my life has re-balanced over the past five days, it's feeling (and looking!) pretty good!


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