Self-Care and Burnout
The decision to look after your self, identify and then provide what you need is what is referred to as Self-Care. My feeling is that a lot of people (including myself) struggle with self-care especially during times of stress.
It is during times of stress that we believe it is more important to just keep going, soldier on, and get things done. We tell ourselves that we just need to get through the next phase and then we can take care of ourselves later.
On the surface this makes a lot of sense, we do in fact need to rise to whatever challenge we are facing and then deal with the other less pressing stuff later. When we include self-care in the list of “non-pressing stuff”, then the thinking becomes essentially flawed.
Have you ever tried to use your car to get to an urgent meeting with absolutely no fuel in it? You may have noticed the reading on the fuel tank go down, reminding you that its time to refuel, you may have also decided to ignore it for a few days thinking “I’ll do it later, I don’t have the time now,” until the fuel runs out and you’re stuck on the side of the road in need of rescue and assistance.
When that happens to your body and emotions it’s called Burnout. Burnout is a condition that is becoming more and more common in our world today. We have glorified being busy, considering it as a sign of power and success. Burnout is usually a condition that results from exposure to extended periods of stress. It is also a result of the stressors outweighing the resources available to handle them. To counter that extreme state of stress, we often resort to over indulgence and find ourselves living a life of extremes.
Burnout is most common in occupational settings but it is definitely not limited to that. Parents also experience burnout when they are unable to step away from their caring duties to recharge and take care of themselves. Burnout can even result from just living in a city that drains your energy without being able to replenish it in some way.
The tell tale signs of burnout include:
Physical and emotional exhaustion,
Fatigue, physical illness, troubled sleeping,
Irritability and anger,
Decrease in performance and productivity, the same activities take you longer to accomplish,
Difficulty concentrating and remembering important things.
What are your cues that it’s time to recharge? What do you notice in yourself that indicates you are running on low fuel?
Beating burnout is all about the basics.
Eat and Sleep. Literally going back to basics! During times of stress and activity we often forget to eat! And then hunger kicks in and we find the nearest edible thing and ingest it, with absolutely no consideration for whether it is replenishing or will make our body feel worse in a matter of minutes. Give your body some real fuel in the form of good food and enough sleep to help you maintain your energy and enable you to keep going.
Find time for yourself. Whether that is taking time to practice meditation, reading a book or just extending your warm shower by a few more minutes all in an effort to just SLOW THINGS DOWN.
Unplug. While technology allows us to stay productive and in touch, it also keeps us alert all the time, whether we are using it for work or even if we are just mindlessly flicking through social media. Turn off all screens at some point during the day or at the end of it.
Learn to say no. Know that it’s okay to say no and that you cannot possibly do everything, much less do it perfection.
Letting go of perfectionism! Brene Brown writes, "Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimise or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It’s a shield. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking ﬂight."
Ask for help. That can be as simple as asking the kids to help you load the dishwasher. It can also include knowing when you need attend a support group or speak to a professional.
Send me your self-care and recharge strategies and follow this space for more to come on self-care.