Dear Dr. Norquist:
I am totally overwhelmed with my life right now. I’m working full-time in a job that demands my full attention, and going to school in the evenings for my master’s degree. I feel so much pressure trying to get everything done well that I have trouble sleeping at night. My friends are mad because I’m not spending any time with them, and that gets me even more stressed out. I’m always tired and low on energy, and the quality of my work is going down. I can’t seem to do anything well these days. Something has to give and I don’t want it to be my health. What can I do differently? I really wanted to get my degree in two years.
Dr. Norquist responds:
You are giving out more energy than you are taking in. It’s like spending money you don’t have – eventually there is a deficit. Please stop to recognize that each of us only has so much energy and time at any given point. If we choose to spend more than we have, there will be consequences. These consequences are most readily noticed with regard to our physical and emotional health. To reduce your symptoms, you need to establish more of a balance between what you give out, and what you receive.
Take time to notice how you replenish your energy and recharge your battery. This varies for everyone. My guess is, whatever it is for you, you’ve been doing less of it since starting night classes. It could be time with friends, time alone, time in nature, time with your dog, time being creative or time playing. Whatever it is, it is vital to your health, and must be consciously reinstated in order for you to maintain your health.
I’d suggest that you also look at how you are spending your life energy and see if there are ways that you can cut back. Emotions can be very draining and expensive, so watch out for how you indulge in them. Worrying, in particular, is an expensive habit (energetically) and one that has no upside. Since it is not possible to give 100 percent to work and also 100 percent to your classes, you must find a way to lower your expectations of yourself, or else choose to spread your classes out over a longer period of time. There is no perfect way of solving this part of your life.
There is a Bach Flower Remedy (found in most health food stores) called Elm, which is remarkably helpful when someone is feeling like they have too much to do in too little time. It comes in liquid form, and I’ve found that 2 - 3 drops on your tongue, or in a glass of water has a subtle but powerful effect in 20 minutes or so. If your health practitioner approves, give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised. I hope this is helpful.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.)Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at email@example.com, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns. 2012 Chaitanya Counseling Services