By Chelsea Lynn
We go through many different stages in life, each contributing to the person we become. Life-altering changes are valuable lessons, but they can also be hard to navigate. We become overwhelmed by the new unknown, losing pieces of our life that once were.
Whether it’s becoming a new mama, landing your first professional job, or going through a hardship, life becomes busy, overwhelming, and it often seems we have no time to just be.
I Was My Biggest Priority
Going through a lot of recent changes of my own, I was left with so many more responsibilities than I was used to and so little time!
In all honesty, I was used to making myself a priority. Between hour-long workout sessions on the daily, cooking healthy meals from scratch, seeing my friends often, spending a lot of time with Allah in worship and seeking knowledge, and curating my passion of blogging and freelance writing, I was pretty happy with my schedule.
At Some Point, Life Kicks In
And then, life hit. A lot of changes happened in a short time. I went through a separation which led me to a new job. I was working full-time overnights at a homeless shelter, a noble but incredibly challenging job.
Between the overnight shifts, the high-stress nature of my work, and sometimes working beyond 40 hours a week, I was left completely overwhelmed. I had trouble sleeping during the days, and even when I did sleep, I couldn’t escape the constant exhaustion of third shift.
I couldn’t muster the energy to workout, or even cook. My diet and exercise went right down the drain, leading to more fatigue, guilt, and stress. I was struggling with the idea of having to give up my passion for blogging and writing. And worst of all, my faith suffered deeply. I felt as though I was a robot going through the motions.
Life was taking over, and I didn’t know how to stop it.
How I Bounced Back and Created Balance in Life
I eventually bounced back, though I’m still a work in progress. I’m in a new job with much better hours and A LOT less stress. I’ve figured out how to rework my schedule to include what’s important and live out my values, without being completely overwhelmed.
Here are the steps I took to bounce back from burnout and renew my body, mind, and soul.
I was trying so hard to hold onto everything I once had, to DO everything I once did. Unsurprisingly, that led to me being burnt out. I was overwhelming myself by not allowing change to happen; I was stuck in the life I once knew, my life of little responsibility and an open schedule.
The first thing I had to do to overcome the overwhelm, was to accept where my life was. I had new responsibilities, I had a lot less time than I was accustomed to, and I wasn’t going to be able to do it all. Once I finally accepted where I was in life, I was able to make some much-needed changes.
2. Modifying My Schedule & Making Difficult Decisions
After acceptance, it’s time to start putting some changes into action. We can’t do everything. It’s a hard truth to grasp, but once you do, your life will become a lot easier, in shaa Allah.
I had to prioritize by cutting out what wasn’t absolutely necessary, and cutting down on others. It wasn’t easy AT ALL and is something I still struggle with. But, when we want to put our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness first, we have to be willing to sit with those difficult choices and cut back what’s not serving us.
3. I Changed Jobs
It was a difficult decision, knowing that I was in a field that felt noble and fulfilling. But between the late-night hours and the challenges that I didn’t feel equipped to deal with, it was wreaking havoc on my life and emotional wellness. I weighed the pros and cons and moved onto something that allowed a better work-life balance.
4. I Became a Morning Bird
I used to hate early mornings. Being up before the sun rose was so hard for me, and I used to always get right back into bed after Fajr prayer. Now, I start by days around 5 am. Taking advantage of those blessed early hours to pray, get in a workout, and work on my blog has been such a game changer for my productivity.
5. I Focused on the Positives
For a while I was caught in such a negative mindset, focusing on all that could no longer fit into my schedule. I had to make a tough mindset shift and begin to focus on what I COULD do. Practicing appreciation and gratitude has made things a lot easier for me.
6. I Put Things on Hold
I have a lot of dreams; there’s so much I want to accomplish. There are so many things I wish I could do RIGHT NOW, but I had to learn how to be ok with waiting. We have Allah to call out to, but we must practice sabr and wait for His timing, not depend on our own. You don’t have to give up on your dreams, but you may have to set a few things aside for the future.
7. I Hold Tight to My Morning’s with Allah
I don’t have the time to spend at the masjid like I used to, so I cherish my early mornings with Allah. I am sure to make dhikr, recite the 3 Quls, and read Qur’an every morning. It might not be much, but I strive to do what I can to forge and maintain that connection.
8. I Turned My Responsibilities into Acts of Worship
When we’re constantly running between work, being a parent, being a spouse, keeping in touch with family and friends, cleaning the house (and the list goes on), it seems as if you’re choosing dunya over deen. That’s how I felt for a while. And then I was reminded that 1) Allah knows my situation and 2) by simply setting the intention and saying “Bismillah” before I begin any task at all, it turns into an act of worship, alhamdulillah. When I know WHY I am doing the things I am doing, I know and accept the responsibilities that He has given me, and then I am determined to fulfil them with love and a present heart, awaiting reward from my Generous and Appreciative Lord.
Taking advantage of these small opportunities for reward and for connecting my action with my ultimate purpose brings a sense of satisfaction to even the most mundane activities, and brings with it untold barakah and momentum to keep doing more; it fills the soul with optimism and a hunger to take advantage of the moment.
There is a Hadith of Prophet (SAW) in which He advised a man while saying:
“Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth, before you become old; and your health, before you fall sick; and your richness, before you become poor; and your free time before you become busy; and your life, before your death.” (Tirmidhi)
This hadith holds so much importance, and I now realize how precious time really is. Let us choose to renew the balance in our lives today, to take advantage of the blessings we have today, to move forward today in a way that will make us smile tomorrow when we meet our Lord.
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