Alanis is an accomplished singer/songwriter, activist, spiritual warrior, wife and mother. As a successful musician, she is no stranger to overworking and admits she hasn’t always been able to strike a balance between her work and personal life.
She describes work-addiction as the respectable addiction—one that people are praised for. “Rather than working a 10 hour day, I’d work an 18 hour day. Or instead of writing 10 songs for a record, I’d write 30.” Alanis warns: “We can get very creative in finding ways to find relief and to (temporarily) make the pain go away.” Numbing ourselves numbs us from pain, but it often disconnects us from what we really need… and can lead to depression.
Awareness and participating in active recovery (in her case, fueled by her having read Work Addiction by Bryan E. Robinson) is the first step to turning things around, now Alanis makes more time to connect with family and friends. She says of her female friendships, “Sometimes we spend time together getting massages, sitting around eating lunch—whatever it is that we love to do. Just being near each other and having that empathy and that resonance is rejuvenating.”
Navigating between family, work, hobbies, activism and self-care is challenging. For so many of us, it is also guilt ridden. Alanis makes sure to spend enough time with her son and husband during the day, “so that when I’m in the office or out in the world doing whatever I do, I’m not sad and feeling disconnected from them.” She garners support from the community she’s built around her—her friends and family. “There’s so much to be said for village living. The Fijians have it down,” she says with a smile.
Living such a full life, finding alone time can be difficult, but structure helps. “I come home and take a few minutes for myself before I kick right back into family mode. Then once everyone’s asleep, I sneak in time at my altar, time for me.” Her advice to others is to schedule quiet time to journal or self-reflect, and she stresses the importance of sharing authentic time with our loved ones. “If my husband and I are left to our own devices, we’ll fall into a slump of not talking about how we’re feeling. And it gets unintimate and very robotic. So it’s up to both of us to keep that connection alive and keep that intimacy alive.”
Adapted from Helene’s radio show, Dare to Live Fully, episode: How to Stop Overworking
What would you tell your younger self?
I’d tell the younger me that this is a marathon not a sprint, there’s plenty of time, and that I can trust my gut. I would have also invited a little more support around me, as well as making sure I am making the bigger decisions about my career from my true self, rather than from the part of me that is “the people-pleaser” or “the over-extender.”
Which song of yours is most relevant for you today, and what’s the message?
I think for me in this moment “Thank You” is a grounding song for me. Listening to that song allows me to really be grateful for what I already have. It’s like a prayer for me, and I often end my shows with it.