When Exhaustion Wars with the Important Thing You Want to Do

I’m sitting here, supposedly writing this post for you. My nerves feel frazzled, my mind is spinning.

I want to write something useful, something that will bring a little ease and comfort into your day. But, right now I’m having a really hard time accessing those qualities for myself. Totally lacking ease and comfort in myself, how can I hope to write anything that inspires these qualities in you?

Perhaps you can relate? Perhaps you’ve been in a similar place yourself? A place where you want to help, to serve, but are yourself depleted and exhausted.

I wonder, what do you do in these situations? Do you push through and continue meeting the needs (real or perceived) of others? Do you stop and meet your own needs first? Is there, perhaps, some combination of both that happens?

Tonight, I feel drained. Tonight, I’m going to practice some self-care. Tonight, you get to watch. And perhaps, through me meeting myself first, you will be able to better meet yourself when you are in a similar state.

So, first, the overview:

I’m tired. I want to write this post.

What needs are being met through writing this post?

  1. To be reliable, trustworthy, to keep my word. I set a public intention to post (and send out a newsletter) on the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month.
  2. To serve through sharing suggestions, perspectives, and techniques that I’ve found useful.
  3. To contribute to a community dedicated to gently, kindly interacting with themselves and their pain.

What do I need in order for this post to be written?

  • Reassurance – that this post doesn’t have to be perfect or useful or some work of greatness. (Which, of course, is what I think it should be). And, reassurance that it will be ok if I don’t get it done; if I don’t meet my deadline.
  • Permission – to feel drained, exhausted, and utterly incapable of offering anything of value.
  • Acknowledgement – both of the exhaustion AND that writing this post is important to me.
  • Time – to check in, to see what my body needs and to spend some time attending to those needs prior to actually writing this post.

Interesting. This task is definitely not a should. It is something that meets all sorts of needs for me.

And, just writing down that I need reassurance, permission and acknowledgment somehow allowed me to give them to myself. Sweet.

The need for time to check-in with myself is still there. So, that is what I’m going to do next.

My 4-level check-in. What’s happening in my:

Body in general? Exhaustion, a sense of being drained and depleted.

Emotions? Anxiety definitely. Otherwise, I feel pretty emotionally cut-off right now.

Thoughts? Oh boy. Yeah. There are thoughts. “You should have started earlier. What kind of a business woman do you think you are? Not a very good one, obviously. You only have this small window of quiet to get this done and you’ve already almost missed it. You’re not going to get it done on time and even if you do, it’s going to suck, it’s not going to be useful and no-one will like it (or even read it).” Etc.

Sensations? Eyes feel stuck, locked, fixed in my head. Total tunnel vision. There is pressure behind my eyes. They feel as if they are straining forward, attempting to escape from their sockets. Neck feels ‘poppy.’ Every time I turn my head, my neck pops and cracks. My neck muscles feel tight, unbalanced, strained. There is this heavy, sinking sensation in my stomach. My breath is shallow, constricted.

Woa. It’s amazing how helpful it is to just do something simple and quick like the 4-Level Check-In. I already feel more connected to my body. Although the exhaustion is still there, I’m no longer resisting it. It’s there and that’s fine.

From my check-in, it is obvious that my eyes are holding the majority of my stress. Just the thought of looking at the computer or writing anything feels overwhelming.

Time for a little self-care.

My eyes feel stuck. And, I’m more in my head than in my body. So, I shift into wide-angle vision. Owl Eyes!

Note: You are going to be hearing a lot more about Owl Eyes soon. So, be prepared. And, overjoyed! Because it’s awesome.

Being in Owl Eyes means that I consciously relax my eyes until I am in wide-angle (or peripheral) vision. It makes everything look and feel a bit softer. It makes me more aware of all the space around me. It gives me a way to hold myself as I pay close attention to what is happening in my body.

And now, I sit. And, I speak Sensation.

I tell my eyes that I notice how strained, tense and locked they feel. I reflect the sensations of heavy, of sinking, of empty pit to my stomach. I let my neck know that I am aware of how tense, tight and misaligned it feels.

As I continue to pay attention, to speak with my body in these ways, my body begins to speak back.

The tension in my eyes releases a bit. I tell my eyes that I now notice less pressure and more of a floating sensation in them. My breathing deepens. I reflect that back through acknowledging the sense of increased lightness and space in my chest where before there had been only constriction and pressure.

The dialogue continues…

And, throughout it all, I stay in my Owl Eyes.

Why? Because being in wide-angle vision makes it easier to notice, to witness what is happening in my body without getting pulled into (and then overwhelmed) by the sensations.

This whole process, by the way, only takes about 10 minutes. At the end, I feel renewed. Not exactly energized ;) but definitely calmer, more present, and more at ease and comfortable in my body and in myself.

I am ready and able to sit down and write. Which is what I do.


  1. Leila says:

    Wow. Amazing!

    I still don’t know how you manage to write so well with such an abundance of feelings as you’ve described. But I guess I must try this exercise first myself in order to ‘get’ how it can help to release the anxiety and pressure to ‘perform’.

    A really great post too because it helps us to think about and practise tuning into our body and acknowledging it’s many needs and voices.

    Beautifully expressed and in really very useful stages.

    Baby steps is what I need sometimes. SO thank you for this.

    Lovely post.

    Much thanks,


    (@SunflowerLeila on Twitter)
    Twitter: LeilaLEvelyn


  2. Larisa says:

    Hi Leila!

    Thanks for the comment.

    I highly suggest writing things out the first time you give this a try. When I try to just notice everything, it is pretty easy to get overwhelmed (at least when doing the initial check-in).

    Writing out what I’m noticing on the 4-levels makes me pay closer attention *and* gives some space around all the feelings. It is easier to notice/observe what is going on in me versus being totally caught up in it.

    Does that help?
    Twitter: larisakoehn


  3. Leila says:

    It sure does. All very helpful and insightful Larisa.
    Huge thanks,

    Twitter: LeilaLEvelyn


  4. Roslynn says:

    I agree, another marvelous sharing. I can’t wait for your blog posts :). I am hitting the exhaustion edge myself this evening. Will make this my journaling practice tonight.

    Hey I looked to connect with you on Twitter…didn’t find you by your name. Are you on?

    Wishing you great things!

    Roslynn (@roslynntellvik on twitter)


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