Practical Tips for Dealing With Burnout
A couple of weeks ago, I ended my Friday with heavy “to-do list” remorse, stressing about everything I hadn't gotten to.
My husband, his arm around my shoulders, reassured me that everything important would get done and that for now it was time to clock out until Monday morning.
By 10 p.m. that night, I was achy, nauseous and chilled.
The Universe had an even more unmistakable message for me, in the form of a summer flu: “Get some rest already!”
I crawled off to bed, hoping I’d miraculously recover and wouldn’t have to cancel our fun plans for the next day, a picnic with friends in Barcelona.
The next morning was dazzlingly hot, and I could only imagine what the Mediterranean city would feel like with a fever and sweaty baby in tow – and finally I succumbed.
All the to-do’s, personal and professional, would have to wait. I would have to acknowledge that the world would not end, and that everything in its time would get done (or not).
And I would sleep.
By Monday I felt better, and also newly re-committed to taking better care of myself and my energy.
For those of you who have been following me for some time, you probably know that self-care and paying lots of attention to personal energy is a key part of my coaching.
Because it’s near impossible to follow through on any significant change in your life if energetically you're barely scraping by.
So when I start working with a client, one of the first things we do is an assessment of their energy boosters and energy drains. It’s one of the new bonuses that I’ve started offering with my 4-month coaching program.
How’s your energy right now?
Here are some most common areas where you can increase your energy and well-being. Take a look to see if one can support you right now.
Plug those energy drains
1. Tolerations – Basically this is anything that you're putting up with in life. A toleration can be as small as a light bulb that needs replacing in your kitchen to your boss at work who doesn’t seem to understand what it is you do. In this very satisfying exercise, you do a brain-dump of all the tolerations you’re currently dealing with, and then decide which you want to tackle first.
2. Negative self-talk and stories – Here’s what I’ve noticed about our energetic low-points in life: they are always rich in negative self-talk and biased interpretations of the past. To get unstuck and start moving forward, I recommend learning the techniques of self-compassion from the best, Dr. Kristin Neff.
3. Insufficient boundaries – Boundaries are essentially about you and your interactions with the world. Are you generally happy with your relationships or do some people seem to take more from you than they give? Are you generally content with your pace of life or are you perpetually over-committed and busy?
This type of drain can have psychological roots.
If you’ve been struggling with it for a long time, consider getting additional support from a therapist or coach to understand and improve it. Given how big these drains can be, the investment is worth it.
Take care of these issues and you’ll see the benefits for the rest of your life.
Prioritize your energy boosters
1. Daily habits – Simple, and hugely effective: Cultivate the daily habits that bring you loads of energy and eliminate the ones that don’t. Practice tracking your daily habits for a few weeks until you’ve found the three habits that have the biggest positive impact on your day. Then make them non-negotiable. Read more and download my simple habits tracker here.
2. A fun hobby – Your hobby of choice can be perfectly oddball. The only thing that matters is whether it lights you up. We often think of energy as limited but the fact is that when we tap into something that really brings us joy, it has unmatched energy generating power. Find your source, whether it’s square dancing, mountain biking or snail hunting (a real thing where I live: after a big rain, snail enthusiasts come out at night with headlamps and buckets, then take home their spoils to eat, ick).
3. Morning routine – When you’ve got kids and a commute to deal with, it’s easy to start the day frazzled and in reaction-mode. Even if morning chaos is unavoidable, you can still take some time out at any point to bring some peace and intention to your day. Experiment with what time, place and activity is possible for you. Possible elements of your routine: a 5-minute journal session, a gratitude practice, a page of free writing, a delicious cup of coffee or walk outside, meditation, or yoga.
Ever since my bout with the summer flu, I’ve put more attention into my daily energy habits – especially making sure that I get out for a walk each day. I’ve also made a list of tolerations that I’m trying to chip away at each week.
It would be so great to start September full of fresh energy!
How about you? What could help you to boost your energy this week?