Stop Stressing Out: You’re Not Beyoncé
“You have as many hours a day as Beyoncé.”
This popular saying may feel motivating at first, but I’m going to call bullshit on it. Yes, Beyoncé only gets 24 hours in a day. She also has a slew of personal assistants, managers, and employees to do all of the little bitty things for her. Beyoncé doesn’t have to do laundry. Beyoncé doesn’t have to drive herself around. Beyoncé doesn’t send her own emails. She has a team she delegates to because she’s a mega-celebrity.
It’s not fair to compare yourself to Beyoncé — or anyone else for that matter — and the things it appears she does every day. Unless you also have a slew of people to do as you bid them to, you will never be able to meet the insane standard of doing as Beyoncé does.
Most Pressure is Self-Imposed
No one is going to be as critical of you as you are of yourself. Most millennials feel such immense pressure to do it all, have it all, and be instantly successful that we’re constantly stressed out, anxious, and exhausted — sometimes even to the point where we need to seek professional help or medication simply to make it through the day. It’s frightening to hear so many of my friends express this kind of emotion.
We’ve been told we can have it all — because we deserve to have it all. While it’s admirable to want to find success in all areas of life, it’s not exactly feasible to do that in your twenties or maintain such a high level of satisfaction at all times.
Life doesn’t work that way. Not every day is going to be full of huge breakthroughs and ladder-climbing. You won’t have a grand romantic moment each day. Hell, you won’t even stick to your diet every single day or get the recommended eight hours of sleep each night. It’s great to aspire to those things, but it’s ridiculous to assume you’re failing if you don’t meet those bars every day.
We All Have a Breaking Point
If you find yourself feeling inadequate, overworked, or uninspired, you probably need to step back and take a deep breath. I’m not saying you shouldn’t strive to be the best you can be every day. I’m saying that you can’t expect perfection. An uncontrollable desire for perfection can only lead to self-doubt and some harsh self-talk. There’s a difference between being lazy for no good reason (in which case you should absolutely lecture yourself into being better), and allowing yourself some time to enjoy life and take it easy because you bust it every other day of the week.
So how do you know when you’re pushing yourself too hard? These signs are a good indicator:
- You can’t sleep.
- You can’t eat.
- You feel like you’re constantly fighting back tears.
- You feel like you’re not doing enough.
- Everyone tells you to relax on a daily basis.
- You’re too busy to do anything fun or relaxing.
- You feel like your attention is constantly divided.
- You’re forgetting things.
Any time you suffer from some of these signs, you need to reevaluate what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Stress is a natural part of life, but it’s not something that should take over your life. It’s also natural to place a lot of pressure on yourself and to push yourself to be better so you can achieve your goals and dreams. However, you’re still a human being and you can’t expect to be on-point at every moment.
You have only 24 hours in a day — some of which need to go to sleeping, working, eating, bathing, and relaxing. You can’t be spinning around like the Tazmanian Devil all hours of the day. You’re more likely to wear yourself out, not get any real work done, and harm your overall health by living that way.
Shift Your Mindset to Reduce Your Stress
Learn to accept that you’re only one person and can only do so much in a single day. You have to stop expecting perfection and continuous momentum in every area of your life. As your life changes and progresses, different areas will need more or less attention according to what’s most important at a specific time.
Some years it will be all about your career, so your social life or romantic life will need to take a back seat. There will be weeks when you need to focus on your family because of some event. Without accepting this fact and understanding it’s okay to not dole out 100% in each area, you’ll become unnecessarily stressed out. Not to mention, it’s hard to be happy with those relentless expectations.
Know Your Limits
A large part of shifting your mindset is knowing what your limits are. Without this, you’ll push yourself too far and beat yourself up for falling short of some insane expectation. No, you can’t work for 12 hours and then go out to see your friends and expect to wake up at 6 a.m. for a yoga class the next day. You have physical limits because you’re a human with an unavoidable need for sleep.
Just like physical limits, your mental limits need to be recognized. It’s important to know just how much you can handle at one time. Since there’s really no such thing as work/life separation anymore, you have to consider how much you have going on in your personal life before you commit to multiple projects at work or take on a side hustle of some sort.
If your family just lost someone and is grieving, then you probably can’t handle a huge assignment at work. Mentally, we are just as limited as we are physically. Don’t be ashamed to admit when you can’t do more. You are allowed to acknowledge your limits and tell people no.
Sometimes you’ll think you can handle something, but then won’t be able to follow through. Yes, you’ll be stressed and anxious because you’ll feel guilty about disappointing people or “failing.” No, you shouldn’t berate yourself for it. Admitting you can’t do something is incredibly brave, and people will respect your honesty more than they will a shoddy job. When this happens, you need to forgive yourself for it.
You aren’t Wonder Woman (or Beyoncé). You’re going to fail sometimes. You’re going to need to back out of obligations in order to take care of yourself physically and mentally. As a human, you naturally hold yourself to a high standard, but you must learn to forgive yourself just as you would forgive a friend or family member.
This goes along with forgiving yourself and shifting your mindset because you have to appreciate the work you are capable of doing. So you didn’t finish that half-marathon in the top 5%. Big deal. You did finish a half-marathon, and that’s what you should be focusing on. Congratulate yourself on the work you accomplish, even if it’s small — and especially if you’re dealing with a lot at the time.
Take time to tend to yourself and your own needs; otherwise, you’ll become burnt out in all areas of your life. It’s impossible to give all of yourself and your time to other people and never address your own needs. How can you expect to do your best at work if you never go home to spend some time doing the things you enjoy? How can you lavish love on your children and significant other if you never lavish love on yourself? Running yourself ragged doesn’t beget success or happiness, only exhaustion and feelings of resentment for each person in your life.
You can practice self-love by dedicating one night a week to your needs and wants. This could include a bubble bath, a restorative yoga class, a girls’ night with your best friend, or just getting into bed an hour earlier than usual. Everyone is busy these days, so it can actually be impossible to have me-time every day, but even just one night a week can make all the difference.
This is probably one of the most important parts of reducing your self-induced stress. Make a conscious effort to be mindful of what you agree to, how you spend your time, and the internal dialogue you have with yourself. You can try to practice self-love and forgiveness all you want, but without the ability to monitor your thoughts and self-talk, you’ll be trying to ski up a mountain.
Reining in your thoughts takes effort. It’s not something that just changes instantly. You have to work at it every day, but it is something you can do with persistence and diligence.
Life will always come with stressful situations. You won’t be able to avoid all of them, and most of them will be out of your control. However, you can control the self-imposed stress and anxiety. Doing this will make all of the difference in your daily life. You’ll sleep better, maintain better eating habits, and feel more centered and in-control of your life. Who doesn’t want all of that?
Last modified on December 15th, 2016
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