Sometimes, life just gets a little bit too much.
I’m a very busy person, I love staying busy and tend to use it to keep myself from falling back into a pit of bad habits and of ignoring myself. Burnout is a real thing, and I tend to forget that.
These past few months (in-fact, since the end of the Carnage filming in March) Zako and I have been jamming our weeks and weekends with STUFF. We’d organise to see friends almost every evening, he teaches Historical Martial Arts on a Tuesday, I do my freelance evening work, on a Wednesday inevitably somebody would stop by to see us, on a Thursday Zako’s mum comes over and has dinner with us, on a Friday we’d collapse in a heap on the sofa… or spend it down the workshop fixing some inevitably broken thing. Weekends were just as full, Saturdays would be day-trips to somewhere interesting OR still fixing the broken Thing. Sundays we tried so hard to make time for family and friends, but would usually be spent working in some capacity. Rinse and repeat. We felt trapped by endless THINGS. The house was clean but rarely tidy and we had bags under our eyes, developing illnesses and felt awful. We’re both #actuallyautistic and thrive on a routine and of course struggle with a lot of social interaction, so it was causing us to go into the worst stages on burnout.
So how did we ‘fix’ this, and how are we making steps to make more time for ourselves?
We joined an archery club on Sundays a few months ago, to force ourselves to be calm and still for a few hours. Did you know its law to practise archery for at least two hours on a Sunday in the UK? Its so impossible to shoot well when you’re stressed out that we look forward to this every week, and if for some reason we can’t make it one weekend its almost as if we’re both wound tightly all week. It gives us an excuse to say to people ‘sorry, we can’t meet up, we’ve got archery club’ and forces us to chill.
Mondays are now Canicross day for me, after work I hook Sketch up to a harness and go out with a small group of other dog-owners. We run together, we chat dogs and we enjoy the forest in the evening. We get to see deer and boar safely and without worry of Sketch chasing as he’s hooked up to me! Zako gets a peaceful evening to play games and do whatever he likes. I get to go out with the dog and meet new people, and Sketch gets to tire himself out and run in a pack. He loves it, I love it.
Tuesdays Zako still teaches, but he has nominated two extra ‘instructors’ who will take over the sessions if he’s having a tired day. Its a two hour session split into halves, and afterwards they all go to the pub together & he gets himself his weekly takeaway. It works really well, during this time I get to spend a bit of time on freelance work and sewing. Sewing is calming.
Wednesdays and Fridays are free. House-days. Family-days. We pick and choose what we do each week, and if nothing is on the cards then SO BE IT. We got ourselves World of Warcraft accounts and can spend time playing together online, our desks are next to each other. We can catch up on films we really wanted to see in the cinema but never went for one reason or another, or we can both just poddle about the house.
We consolidated friend’s visits into something we now call ‘Thursday Club’ – our house is an open house on a Thursday evening, any friend can stop by, have a cuppa and join in with whatever we’re doing. Zako’s mum still comes over and really enjoys hanging with us and our friends. I’ve been able to catch up with a friend I’ve not seen consistently in years, and we’re all so different that we all go away learning something new every week.
Overall, this has been a fantastic move for us. We no longer feel trapped by a routine, nor do we feel like there’s not enough hours in the week. By taking a step back from life we’ve been able to appreciate it more when we do do something and start to feel OK saying to people ‘sorry, not tonight, we need us-time’. Its not perfect, but its a start.