It’s Sunday night, you’re planning your week, and you write down all the things you’re going to do. Monday and Tuesday are great, but then Wednesday comes and the motivation is gone. You’re tired, you’re erasing plans from your planner, and you just want a day off. We’ve all been there. So, what’s the problem? I say it’s a little something called burnout.
A couple of years ago I really struggled with burnout. I would go SO HARD for 3 days, and wake up on the fourth exhausted, with no motivation to do anything. I was so confused, because I didn’t understand how I could continue to work as hard as I wanted to for more than 3 days. Did I just have bad stamina? Was I lazy? And then I realized I was giving my all to everything I was doing. EVERYTHING. I was hitting 100% all day. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to not work as hard as you usually do, I’m advising you to assess your priorities. What needs 100% and what needs 90%? Below you’ll find what I do to avoid burnout, and still feel like I’m putting the right energy into everything I do.
What is Burnout?
We’ve all definitely felt it, but did we know what it was? Burnout is basically a state of exhaustion. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s usually caused by excessive stress, and can happen when you’re overwhelmed or emotionally drained. It becomes hard to meet constant demands. You literally feel drained. So, how can we avoid this? It’s not fun a place to be. Read on for my tips!
Don’t Overpack Your Schedule
Sounds so simple right? But when we’re sitting there on a Sunday night, we don’t consider how the things we’re scheduling could affect our energy levels. If you tell yourself that you’re going to do a really intense workout in the morning, then go to work all day, then to the grocery, then go out with friends, you don’t really consider how all of that is going to make you feel the next morning (i.e. super tired). So, what happens is we plan another intense day, and then beat ourselves up for not being able to accomplish all of it. You have to be able to plan a realistic schedule. First write down the things you absolutely have to do (work, deadlines, to-do lists), and then fill in the rest of the blanks. This will help you assess what time you have that week to do something for yourself (non- work related). Staying organized and on top of your schedule will help you feel like you are more in control of your week, leading to less of that “overwhelmed” feeling.
Time for Yourself
We just talked about not overpacking your schedule, and now we’re going to chat about prioritizing time for you. It’s hard to say no to people, but you need to know when you have to. If someone asks you out for a drink, but you’re exhausted and know you have a big day tomorrow, do you go? My answer: nope. You need to know when to say no. And saying no is okay! We are so scared that if we say no it’ll affect our relationship or offend someone, but at the end of the day, you are in charge of you. But, on the contrary, you have to have some sort of social life. It’s gives your working brain a break. Earlier I mentioned planning first the things you have to do, and while you still need to do that, you also need to schedule in some fun time for you. Whether that’s getting a massage, going out with friends, going out to eat, whatever! It’s important to give your brain a break. While you’re doing these fun things for yourself, be aware of when work thoughts creep in. Acknowledge them, and let them go.
Know When to Go 110% vs. 50%
In today’s age, it feels like if you’re not going 110% all the time you’re doing something wrong. We glorify overworking, being stressed, and not getting sleep. It’s like “Who can be the most stressed?” If you win, you’re definitely not getting a prize you’ll enjoy. If you put your all into everything you do (not just work, EVERYTHING), you’re bound to burnout. Assess your planner, and pick out the things that need 110% of your energy. Going to the grocery store does not need that. This tip is weird to write, because I keep asking myself: “Am I promoting laziness? Don’t you have to give 110% all the time to be successful?” The answer is yes and no. But once you give that 110%, you’re at 0- and you need to refuel. Find things that work for your schedule to help you refuel. What you need will be different from what someone else needs. Some things that work for me are: seeing friends, yoga, meditation, watching TV, reading, and finding ways to be outside (fresh air!).
Know Your Signs
It’s very important to know how to check in with yourself. Our bodies are constantly trying to tell us if something is wrong, but we miss these signals because we’re not listening. If you’re reaching for that third cup of coffee, are you getting enough sleep? If you find yourself constantly hungry, did you eat enough the day before? I use meditation to help me become more self-aware. Take a few quick minutes to yourself, and listen to your body. One of my burnout signs is lack of motivation. Things I’m usually excited about don’t excite me, and I don’t feel like doing anything. Also, when I’m low on energy it’s because I haven’t had enough good sleep. Getting a full 8 hours is extremely important, a book I recently read called “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker explains exactly why 8 is the magic number. Listen to your body, take care of your body, and you’ll find that it’s much easier to work with your body, rather than against it.
To wrap up, burnout is something we can all avoid. We plan realistic schedules, we take care of ourselves, and we listen to our bodies. Even just talking to someone when you’re feeling overwhelmed can be extremely beneficial. I call my friends all the time to get their opinions on things I’m struggling with. Work hard, but work smart, and you’ll be much happier.