Feeling overwhelmed, whether by work or life in general, can be a vulnerable and lonely experience, and this is how many people are feeling as we charge toward the end of this, the “rebuild” year. We started the year with hope of a better year, a post-pandemic year of rebuilding, of new beginnings, of prioritising our quality of life and wellbeing, and the reality has been somewhat anti-climatic to say the least. After all, so many of us made conscious life changes that we believed would improve our lives – we made career moves, worked from home, moved to rural villages in the country or at the seaside, focused on nurturing and nourishing ourselves, and more. So, this year should have been easier and we should be feeling stronger and happier as we reach the end of it. Right? Well yes, and no. This is why…

Yes, the fact that we’ve made these changes is great and they have or will improve our quality of life to a greater or lesser degree now and in the future, and they will help us grow. So why have so many of us struggled? Yes, the external factors like the economic, climate and political crises that have played out on the global stage have played a role, but mainly it’s because any change, even the changes we make voluntary with eager anticipation of a happy, paradise effused, idyllic way of being, comes with unexpected challenges and requires us to change as well. A new way of being requires exactly that, a new way of being and that requires new or different skills and resources.

Let’s take the mass migration out of the cities to rural and seaside villages as a case in point. So many people, moved to their ideal holiday destination to live and work expecting it to feel a little like a permanent holiday, expecting to feel happier and healthier and less stressed. What they discovered was that even this chosen move was difficult. It didn’t feel like a holiday; in fact, it brought additional stresses and strains they had not anticipated, and this lead to feelings of despondency, anxiety, failure and shame. But before we pack up and move back to “our old life”, there are a few things to consider.

Firstly, there is no going back. This may not be what you want to hear, but its true. Your “old life” moved on and made changes of its own this last year, and whatever you go back to will still require a new way of being. It will still require work, and even though you may be feeling that there is nothing left in the tank, and you just can’t face doing the work; you can and you will. You don’t need to do it all in one go, you can do it bit by bit and you can ask for help. It is okay to admit that things aren’t going to plan and that you’re feeling out of your depth and that you need help. You’re not alone in this – there are many people feeling this way and your admitting it may well help others to feel less alone too.

Secondly, those new skills and resources I mentioned before are within you. You may need help identifying them and accessing them, and you may need to strengthen and develop them, but you’ve got this. Your “new life” can be what you want it to be, if – and it is a big if – you’re willing to do the work. If you’re willing to reflect on the changes you’ve made honestly and openly with compassion and kindness. How have you responded to the challenges that have arisen? What are you grateful for? What have you learned? How can you do it differently moving forward? By creating this kind of self-awareness, a mindful self-awareness based on honest compassionate reflection, we allow for new perspectives and a new way of being.

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