It’s not the nicest of words, burnout! But sadly it reflects the state of mindset of how someone can be if they are consistently working and ‘being busy’ without giving yourself the necessary selfcare that I’ve come to learn in my 40s, is so important for a healthy life and a healthy mindset.
MY FIRST BURNOUT
Now I know what you are thinking by reading this title, first?? Did I not learn my lesson! Well the first time it truly happened to me, was at the age of 29. Working very long days and weeks, missing out on the fun of friends and family activities and celebrations.
You see I was on a mission, a mission to prove I could afford my own home, own my own space and I needed money to do that. I worked for a company then, that the more output you delivered, the more you could earn – this ticked the boxes for me financially, but it took a huge toll on my health.
I was then a workaholic – wanting to delivery all the time, every day had to be super productive or I was a failure.
Complete burnout meant that I ended up having five months off work; I chose to travel (which for some of you reading this would think this is a fab thing) but it actually took a good three months of the five to get back to the real Lizzi, the Lizzi who enjoyed life.
I took my learning from this, and made changes that I try very hard fifteen years on to still implement today, because I have realised that the burnout situation can easily come back, if you don’t care about selfcare.
CAN BURNOUT HAPPEN AGAIN?
Yes, as I have come to learn. I now call myself a workafrolic – this means you are not working every hour for the sake of it (you know the rhyme: Work to live, not live to work) Back in my twenties I was the latter, but I now very much ‘work to live’ as I focus now more on the work that I love to do. The ‘frolic’ means the fun of it!
But still constantly being productive and not giving your body and mind a time to rest, can result into things happening that you can’t control, for me this was vertigo and panic attacks. Both of these health issues came separately but both lasted weeks, and the more you try to control it the worse it actually gets.
What was the remedy? Complete rest and relaxation – that’s the hardest medicine for me, and so now I focus on R&R weekly to avoid any build up to burnout! Well I try at least.
MY TIPS ON HOW TO AVOID BURNOUT
We are all different people, and so we need to understand what works for one person may not necessarily work for someone else. However I am hoping that if you can implement some of this into your daily lives, I truly hope you will avoid burnout too.
Set rules around working times – now this is more aimed at those that work from home. The home environment I feel can be challenging because time flies at super fast speed (it never goes that quickly in the office at work!). My biggest tip here is to set a finish time, come what may, even if you have not completed your ‘to-do’ list, tough – it has to move to the next day.
A good way to make this happen, is promise your dog a walk or book yourself an exercise class or get a date in with a friend
Don’t miss out on friendship – Coffee dates, lunch dates and then dinner dates they all seem to come at once, but I now do not cancel on anyone. At the time of organising you have the chance to organise yourself, if you do that properly there is no reason to cancel. Make the time, as you don’t get this time back and friends, who are there to support you, make you laugh, tell you that you are stupid and that you work too hard – and that’s the fun of it!
Eat healthily – Brain food that’s what you need, good nutrition that keeps your body fit and healthy. When we are busy we grab and eat, in fact we tend to eat at such great speed that our brain doesn’t even register it! And that’s when we gain the weight. Or it’s the other way, you don’t make time to eat and then this impacts your energy.
My advice is to prepare as much as you can in advance. I take a pack lunch into my corporate office, that way I know what I plan to consume, I make sure it’s healthy and it’s taken the issue of ‘what to eat’ or ‘I’ve not got time to grab food’ all out the way.
Care about Selfcare – You have to look after you. Only You can be responsible for you. And Me-time is such an essential part of looking after yourself. The more you organise it the easier life is to fit it in. Hair appointments, nail appointments, facials, spray tans etc (or book ‘beauty time’ in your own bathroom).
Sleep is also a huge important factor – I’ve learnt you cannot catch up on it! So I try very hard to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time – even on a weekend. I’ve personally found my body copes well with routine sleep.
Don’t always be available – Your phone makes you available 24/7. This is a new world we are living in.
In my twenties this wasn’t an issue for me because Social Media, Messenger and SMS just wasn’t around or used like it is today. Here’s what I do with my phone:
- Don’t be on it for the first hour of the day – I get up at 5.30, the first time I am on my phone is 6.45 to post my #ootd on Instagram just before I head to work
- I walk my dog without my phone – most of the time, if I’m going on a very long walk then perhaps not, but if it’s just up the road then I don’t take it.
- Leave it in another room – If I want time away, then I just simply leave it in another room or put it away in my bag. Having it on you or next to you makes you easily grab it and then you found another 30 mins has gone – be proactive if you need to get stuff done, put it away.
- Turn it off – when I just want peace and quiet that’s what I do, mentally I think f*%K it, my own Me-time is far more important!
MY FINAL TIP
Work is very important to the people who can reach levels of burnout. Telling people of this mindset not to work is completely pointless. I wouldn’t give up my work. Even if I won £millions on the lottery, I would still be working – it’s in my DNA. And you know what – I LOVE IT!
So my final tip would be ‘to be in the moment’ – so many of us work, live, eat in a daze. I see it all the time, as people are being busy. If you can’t remember what you’ve ate, who’ve you spoken to etc then you are not actually living.
Have fun and live in the moment. If you are in conversation with someone, listen and be there. Because we all need support, especially when we do….burnout.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you will consider the tips
All the photos in this post were taken by Sarah Rider Photography