I broke a fingernail and it was the end of the world

I get my nails painted about every four weeks. This phenomenon started about three years ago when one of our children got married and I decided that my outfit would be enhanced with painted nails. I had so much fun getting them painted at the time and chatting to my new best friend Lucy, that I decided that this was now a thing for me. A bit of fun and some time out from my busy schedule.

To be honest I am as rough as guts and I tend to chip my freshly painted nails pretty quickly.  Lucy gets a good laugh out of how bad my nails can look at the end of four weeks.

And sometimes I break a nail, which is annoying but not the end of the world. But sometimes it is. Sometimes my reaction to my broken nail is completely over the top.

You see, I have a number of balls in the air all the time and I tend to work a lot. So I put myself under quite a lot of pressure. (Do what I say don’t do what I do). And when I get really tired and run down, I can become quite stressed. And when I am a bit more stressed than usual I can start to catastrophise and overreact (trying not to exaggerate here) about small stuff, like a broken nail. In these instances I might suddenly becoming that yelling person who finds fault in everything, I thump at my computer and I might cry about things that I would not normally get upset about; I also tend to suffer – a lot.

Fortunately, my family understand that when I am dramatically carrying on and on about a piffling thing like a broken nail, the internet going slow or someone buying the “wrong” brand of toilet paper – that I am just very stressed and they don’t take my behaviour personally.

And it is fascinating, because as soon as I start blaming everyone around me for everything going wrong, yelling at the Universe to be kind to me, finding fault with everything/everyone other bad things tend to occur.  I often lose my keys, get parking fines, lock myself out of the house, stop sleeping well.  That is usually a very clear indication that I may not be in a good spot right now.

I usually know that when I have got to this point that I need to stop, breathe, go for a work, take a day off – do something for me.

Many of us live very fast lives. Our days are full. If we are self employed, we often work all day in the business and all night on the business. It is hugely stressful.

So my challenge to you is to find ways to take care of yourself and to practice them.  But more than anything – be alert. If you suddenly find yourself catastrophising over a broken finger nail – chances are it’s time for some proper time out.

Taking on too much is my kryptonite

I am run a micro business and I do nearly everything in my business. I am slowly but surely getting some help with the business; in the last twelve months I have outsourced my bookkeeping, taken on a virtual assistant and get help with my social media. But I still struggle with delegating tasks, so I wear most of the hats in my business and it’s full on.

I often think that sole traders and micro business owners are like super heroes. They do everything. They are amazing at working in the business; and then they put in these super human hours and work on the business. I have so much respect and admiration for small business owners.

But we are not invincible. And I learnt that the hard way this year when I agreed to help manage a great and successful project that was not part of my core business.

I agreed to take on this project in February and the project got properly underway in June and was at its most frenetic in September.  I am pleased to say that the project was hugely successful and it brought a lot of joy to a lot of people. So it wasn’t a bad thing, it’s just that it took me time away from my main game from June to October. And I was completely exhausted by the end of the project.

It was one of those times when I got distracted by shiny objects and flattering comments. I thought I was super human, that I could manage to take on even more work and responsibility. I thought I could do everything.

But I know that I didn’t manage this project as well as I could have because I was constantly juggling my other responsibilities – such as running my own business and spending time with my family.

By once again saying yes and agreeing to undertake work that was a distraction to my main game, I put at risk my goals and aspirations.

But what was even worse is that it affected my sense of well being and it impacted on my health. I have spent the last three years practicing self care.  I now have a number of non-negotiables in my life such as running/walking every day, making sure I take a day off each week, going to bed early and eating nutritious and healthy foods.

By taking on this non-essential project, I put all of that risk and by the end of September was starting to feel terrible. I became tired and stressed out again.  In the last six weeks of the project I barely ran or walked at all. My diet suffered because I have so little time to prepare food. My stress levels were up and despite being exhausted I couldn’t sleep. Suddenly my non-negotiables became negotiable again.

But at the end of the day I have no-one to blame but myself. I should never have said yes.

I love to work. There is no doubt that l am a workaholic. But even workaholics have their limits and I just reached mine.

The good news is – I’ve learnt my lesson. I won’t do that again. My non-negotiables are firmly back in place and I am able to sleep again.

None of us our super human. We have to look after ourselves. No-one can do it for us. We have to set our own boundaries, our non-negotiables for good health. We have to protect ourselves from ourselves. And we know that all superheroes have their kryptonite.