The "Cut Off" Point Pt. 2: What To Do Now?
Now that we know how to identify if we are near or have already hit our cut-off point, what do we do about it? As you know from the previous post, hitting your cut-off point means you are already at your limit. You have one of two options at this point. Either continue along, cross that point and run yourself ragged, becoming an ineffective friend, employee etc. Or two, you can recognize and listen to your cut-off point and set a boundary with yourself and others to allow space for self-care and healing. It is important for y’all to know that once you do cross your cut-off point, it is not an easy thing to return back to the other side; it is doable, but prevention is preferable. Which is why we are learning now!
So, what ARE the ways I can turn around and save myself when I am at my cut off point?
Say No: Set your boundaries; do not take on more than you can handle. There is a lot of guilt associated with this word. Often times we feel that if we say no to a peer, we are a bad friend. If we say no to a boss, we may lose opportunities in the future. Basically, no is a death sentence. However, Yes can be much more of a death sentence. If you can’t take on that project right now because you have a kid at home who just started high school and is struggling, DON’T. If you can’t pick up your roommate from the airport at 11 p.m. because you have a presentation the next day at 8:30 a.m., DON’T. If you can’t make it to a friend’s wedding because you just don’t have the finances right now, DON’T. Saying no will help you keep your energy up, and you need energy to recognize your limits!
Don’t Overbook Yourself: You can’t do it all in one day! Following up with our first rule of saying no… it’s not just about saying no to others, but saying no to yourself as well. I am a huge fan of lists. I won’t remember half the things I have to do if I don’t have a sticky note taped to my forehead. Lists are amazing tools, but you’ve got to give yourself realistic time-limits. If you can’t get your oil changed, file your taxes, grab coffee with a friend, take your dog for a walk, meal prep for the week and complete a 5-step skin care routine all in one day, THAT’S OKAY; You DO have tomorrow.
Advocate for Yourself: Going back to feeling crappy when we say no - often times this is followed up with unnecessary and profuse apologies on our part. Don’t do this. When you start to apologize for your actions, your mind starts convincing you that you’ve done something wrong. Now, if you haven’t ACTUALLY done something wrong, this puts additional undue stress on our emotional balance. Stand firm in your decisions, you don’t have to explain them away or apologize.
Rest (at night AND during the day): You need to take a break. Without breaks, we don’t allow our brain time to process and function properly. We often have the misconception that rest is only for the evening. Although ensuring a full night’s sleep is one step in getting rest, we also need to take breaks during the day. Introducing a few minutes’ worth of breaks during the day allows for a quick recentering of our mental faculties, helping us feel sharper and more able to take on tasks. Set an alarm on your phone twice a day to spend one minute taking deep breaths or taking a lap around the office.
Rejuvenate: This may sound similar to rest, but actually it is not! Rest is one form of self-care, while rejuvenation is another. What activity revives you? Is it artwork? A walk in nature? Spa day? Whatever it is, this is the classic example of self-care where you allow yourself time to do what you love. Make sure whatever you choose, you are doing it for no other purpose than self rejuvenation. If your rejuvenation is sketching, drawing a portrait that a friend asked you to make does NOT count as self care; it needs to be for you and you alone with no strings attached.
One note about self care. The thing is, self care is not about avoidance of or changing our feelings. It’s about soothing our existing emotions; letting them be and then allowing them to pass. In order to do that, we first must be able to recognize and acknowledge that our emotions exist and are affecting us. THIS is the whole point of these posts. We need to be aware of our experiences and our emotions in order to protect ourselves. Without awareness and understanding, we go through life blindly, and we just might trip right over that ledge. Think about driving down the highway at 60 miles per hour and hitting a big, muddy puddle. The mud splashes up on your windshield, and you can no longer see. Without the awareness that your vehicle has windshield wipers, you would be SOL in this situation! Furthermore, without the understanding that windshield wiper fluid would more quickly clear the mess, you would be in even deeper trouble. Without this knowledge your likelihood of falling over the ledge increases exponentially.
Overall, I hope these last two posts have helped you understand why hitting your emotional, mental and physical limits are so problematic. I also hope you’ve learned specific ways to identify when you are approaching that limit, and how to help back yourself away from that ledge. I have only hit on five warning signs and five ways to help; there are many more ways that may be specific to YOU. I encourage you to spend some time self-reflecting either with yourself via journaling, or even together with your therapist, and create your own personal warning signs and safety nets. Use these lists as starting points, and get down to the nitty gritty specifics for you.
Until next time!