I used to tell people that anxiety was keeping me thin. This was when I was in my 20s, pre children and a mortgage, and therefore before I had any moral right to actually be stressed or tired. I wasn’t being cute; I genuinely thought that my metabolism responded to the sheer speed at which my busy mind was whirring. Granted it helped that I did things like always taking the stairs at work – but I only did that in an attempt to efficiently cram some exercise into a day that was otherwise too busy for a real workout (well that and the fact that I have a bit of a lift phobia).
I remember one of my sisters warning me that I could expect all of that to come crushing down around my water retaining ankles post-pregnancy. And to some extent that has been true (she says poking at the muffin top over her yoga pants). But there was also a short-lived period of relative calm post-partum. Don’t get me wrong, I was a sleep deprived, hormonal mess who routinely broke down into a sobbing heap at 4pm each day. But at the same time the “hustle” kind of stopped for those first months after each birth. There’s a hazy period where people tell you how it’s almost a responsibility to rest. Visitors tell you to “sleep while the baby sleeps” and family members offer to help. But eventually the offers of help dry up, and you realise you’ve exhausted the reserves of lasagne and casserole in your freezer and you’re expected to just figure out how to get on with it again. And slowly but surely, the hustle returns.
And I realised the other day that I was running on adrenaline again. Not because I need to. Not because my life is dangerous, or threatening, or even particularly challenging by any real standard. But because I feel like I need to be a super efficient, caffeine-fuelled hustler in order to juggle life, parenting, school, my own business, friendships, family and being an empathetic, caring partner.
Around the time that I realised this I stumbled across a booked entitled “Rushing Woman’s Syndrome: The Impact of a Never Ending To Do List on Your Health”. I immediately self-diagnosed and got a copy. I’ve been too busy to read it yet (and the irony of that has not escaped me) but I’ll be interested to see whether Dr Libby can convince me to change the deeply rooted beliefs that have made me this way.
I’d dearly like to be a calmer person. Someone who makes time for downtime. I’d like to see a wave of calm extend into my family life and make me a nicer partner and parent. But I remain sceptical. I mean honestly, how do all those calm, Zen people actually get stuff done? So if I suddenly stop posting here I guess you’ll know I’ve taken some down time and relaxed so much I forgot to come back.