I've had my share of burnouts and as an entrepreneur who actually likes to work, I must establish routines to sustain balance throughout the day. In the recent weeks, I found myself under a tremendous amount of stress over some health issues. Sometimes a change in our health can cause a lot of mental anguish and sometimes, our minds drive us crazy. This past weekend, I got the opportunity to watch a live Second City show in Chicago and it was such a treat. The storyline highlighted anxiety and depression in this day and age and how we can unknowingly or intentionally drive ourselves bonkers. One of the actors (a relative of mine), actually played someone's anxiety and it sounded a lot like mine not long ago.
The internet has a way of scaring us in and out of things. We rely on unnecessary information or information that doesn't serve us any and we try to control outcomes to situations. But we can only control ourselves; how we think, what we do at this moment right now, this second that we have. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to identify when a burnout is coming on until it has happened. We believed we were on top of everything, checking off our to-do lists, entertaining our busy schedules and completing time-consuming tasks. A few weeks ago, I experienced a different kind of burnout, one where I recognized how my thoughts, fears, and anxiety were dictating my actions.
It's so important to truly know your body so you can identify if and when you're not feeling so hot. In light of challenges I deal with as someone with heart (and lung) disease, it's critical for me to be fully present and aware of how I am feeling. Sometimes, it's OK to allow yourself permission to pause, ease off the gas pedal and take a moment. Each day, I work up to 10 or sometimes even 12 hours finishing sewing projects and/or writing. But I also make sure to schedule 'me time,' to relax and unwind. When I realized that a burnout snuck up on me, I incorporated these six simple daily habits and after, I felt like a new person!
Wake up Early
This might sound strange, but if you want to regulate your sleep schedule, you should start by waking up early and going to sleep at least a half hour earlier. A part of burnout can come from losing sleep or staying up late and worrying. Regulation can start on a new day. If sleep has been difficult for you, take roughly two hours before bed to set the tone for bedtime. I stop working every day at a specific time. Setting a stop/start schedule and sticking to it will restore balance in your sleep and will make you feel renewed.
Create an evening routine that works for your schedule
This is something I've never stopped doing, even in the midst of a burnout. Routines keep us from becoming obsessive overwork obligations or any blunders or stressors that interfered with your day. In my evening routine, I do those adult complex coloring books, do yoga, a half hour of deep breathing to clear my head, basically activities I don't 'promote' on social media. I also clean the dishes for ten minutes and my living space for another ten minutes. These activities calm the central nervous system, allowing the melatonin to work in your brain. Doing these things always resets my entire system.
Don't eat heavy meals for a while
It's Ok to indulge once and again, but if you've just had a major burnout, eating easy-to-digest meals for a few days will also help reset your system. How you eat certainly determines how well you'll function during the day and how well you'll sleep at night. Now, I eat a balanced diet and this has made such a difference in my overall health; meaning, I limit carbohydrates (and processed junk) and focus on fruits, vegetables, and foods high in omega3, vitamin B and D (and more). I am also on a beneficial supplement regimen that has transformed my depression and anxiety and healed gut issues. Eating healthy (not detoxing) in the recovery process after you've taxed yourself too much will give you good energy and you'll feel better. After I have a burnout, I make smoothies every day. They make me feel energized.
Meditate upon rising
Early morning meditation has worked wonders for my anxiety. A few years ago, I used to greet my mornings with panic attacks when I'd ponder on what a day could bring. It's not a good place to be. These days, I meditate for about fifteen or twenty minutes while I'm still in bed. Then, I actually stretch and this releases stress and tension. After, I make breakfast and set my intentions for the day. It's a great way to ease into your work routine as opposed to jack-rabbit starting by hitting the ground and running to your hefty checklist. How you start your morning affects your mental and physical energy and also determines how you'll both function and respond as things with work or your social life come up.
I do this in the middle of my afternoon, especially if I've been writing or sewing for a few hours. I take about fifteen minutes to either attend to my pet or write in a journal for a while. These check-ins have broken up my day and give me feedback on how I'm feeling or what's happening in my thoughts. If you don't feel you have the time to do this, try adding this self-check-in on your lunch break or if you take a break on your shift. You don't have to be a professional writer or author to get your thoughts on paper. You can also use this time to take a brief catnap which will renew your energy and make you feel more alert. Naps are another tool for stress management and are essential to your well-being.
Get some fresh air and vitamin D (from the sun)
In the middle of the day, around 2 P.M., I force myself to get outside even though I'd rather sew or write until my eyes bleed (but I don't want that to happen!). It's tough to pull away, but I'm someone who MUST do cardio each day for my health so I take advantage and go for a walk or a powerwalk/jog on a trail nearby. I did this all through fall and winter regardless of how cold it was outside because vitamin D from the sun is the best thing to absorb. Getting that sunlight through your eyes enhances serotonin and when I noticed my depression slipping a few weeks ago, I made this routine again and even today I see a difference (just after two weeks).
These are things you can do easily as you go about your routine. You don't necessarily need to be strategic. If you have time, take advantage of it. I realize some of these may be hard if you're not a stay-at-home entrepreneur, but you can still find ways to incorporate these healthy lifestyle habits each day. For me, it's essential and if I don't do these things, I do run the risk of burnout.
The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!