When you just want the world to stop

I have a funny feeling that quite a lot of people, in the last couple of weeks, have just felt like they want the world to stop. I know I have.

It's a strange situation to be in when the world has kind of been on hold since March. But, at the same time as not being able to live life normally, life has also marched on and new and different demands have been placed on us.

So, today, in the first week of December 2020, I thought I'd talk about what it means when you just want the world to stop.

What it means when you just want the world to stop

When you feel like this, it's a sure sign that you're approaching burnout, or you've actually gone beyond it and you're just kind of living on petrol fumes.

I've hit burnout before, most catastrophically in February 2019 when I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue. It's not fun. I'm still not fully recovered, and despite trying to live what I learned about how to recover, I feel like I'm on the verge of burnout again.

I get the very strong sense that this is happening to lots of people around me, as we head into winter in the year of the pandemic.

What burnout looks like for me

Everyone will have different personal signs of burnout but for me they include:

  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Frequent, if not daily, migraines and headaches
  • Other body pain
  • Poor sleep
  • Loss of creativity (I had to wrack my brains for over a week to come up with what to say in this week's blog post and podcast episode)
  • Feelings of defeatism
  • Feeling like you're running uphill just to stand still in life
  • Only being able to see problems and not solutions
  • Wanting to go inward – the introvert in me insisting that it is listened to

There are many other signs of burnout, and you need to learn to read your own body so that you notice the tells.

The website verywellmind.com lists the symptoms of burnout as being:

  • Alienation from work-related activities: Individuals experiencing burnout view their jobs as increasingly stressful and frustrating. They may grow cynical about their working conditions and the people they work with. They may also emotionally distance themselves and begin to feel numb about their work.
  • Physical symptoms: Chronic stress may lead to physical symptoms, like headaches and stomachaches or intestinal issues.
  • Emotional exhaustion: Burnout causes people to feel drained, unable to cope, and tired. They often lack the energy to get their work done.
  • Reduced performance: Burnout mainly affects everyday tasks at work—or in the home when someone's main job involves caring for family members. Individuals with burnout feel negative about tasks. They have difficulty concentrating and often lack creativity.

What to do if you just want the world to stop

Firstly, listen. You're not feeling this for no reason. Something isn't right in life if this is how you're feeling.

Really tune in to what your body is saying that it needs.

If your body is screaming ‘sleep' at you, sleep.

If your mind is crying out for peace, or quiet, put social media down, turn off the radio and just listen to the little noises all around.

If you just need to rest, rest.

However urgent all the things are, they honestly can wait. And, you'll do a better job of them once you've rested.

I'm what Gretchen Rubin would call and ‘upholder', someone who follows through on what they say they will do. I'm also a type-A personality, an over-achiever who is always trying to stretch themselves to be more and do more.

It's hardest for people like me to step away and do less. But, it's also more essential that we do, because we're the ones who are most likely to burnout.

What to do next

Think about all the things in life that re-energise and recharge you. Try and do those things, in a gentle, unpressured way, to recover.

During the pandemic, this might be hard. I found myself longing to go to a dinner party, as a read about one in a novel, with good food, great friends and invigorating conversation. This isn't possible right now. But what is? What's the nearest thing to this that I can muster?

You need to ask yourself the same questions – what's the closest I can get to the thing that will really fill me up and set me up with the energy and inspiration to carry on?

What to do forever

Be mindful of the pace you can live at, without burning out.

Notice the things that restore you, rather than drain you. Do more of those things.

Recognise the things that exhaust you, leaving your depleted. Minimise those things as much as possible.

Stop beating yourself up. You're perfect, you don't need to push so hard.

Give yourself a break, some forgiveness and some peace.

When you just want the world to stop

Listen. Respond. Let your little corner of the world stop for a few minutes, an hour, a day or a week. Whatever you need so that you can get back to the spinning world, but on your terms.

Other posts you might find useful

Teen mental health today with Dan Licence

Teen anxiety: tips for parents and students

Exams and mental health: how to succeed and stay happy

And, check out this post from Anita Cleare of The Positive Parenting Project about the mental health support available to teens. 



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