Burnout can hit us all. For some of us, it hits way more often than we’d like. There are many reasons for it, but being a person that can hit burnout very quickly I know that for the majority of times it’s all self-inflicted. I had a great cycle of work flat out then burnout, which usually hit me every 2-3 months where I pushed so hard my poor little body couldn’t keep up. I got ill, slept most of the weekends, and felt lethargic and overwhelmed the rest of the time.
If you suffer from burnout then figure out what it is that triggers it for you
Very likely, you will find that you’re trying to be all things to all people, perhaps trying to be the most resilient person in the world, almost taking on a martyr role. That sounds harsh, but it is often our people pleasing that gets us into the pickle in the first place.
Yes, there are demands that others put on us for one reason or another, there are also crazy demands we put on ourselves, but there is also the best word in the world that can be used in response to those demands. NO. That brings me onto tip number one;
Get clear on your boundaries and say no
If you take away nothing else from this post, take away the word NO. It is one of the key things that will really help you in your busiest of busy times. You think that by saying yes to ‘just one more thing’ is the right thing to do, when inside your sensible self is screaming, ‘What on earth are you doing?’ Notice when you respond to someone how it feels. Is your jaw clenching, is there a knot in your stomach, is your mind racing at the thought of how you’re going to fit in yet another thing? Those are your clues that the word NO is needed!
So, what boundaries do you need to set?
To avoid burnout you have to make choices. You can choose to take on more work, or choose to set boundaries by gently saying you’re not able to take on more work right now.
You can choose to stop and look after your self-care, even if it’s just a quick 5 minutes squeezed in between your next client and that pressing thing on your to-do list.
You can choose to take time out to get really clear on what your priorities are, and allow others to support you.
If you were to make better choices what would they be?
So, onto tip number 2;
Get it all out of your head
When working with clients on overwhelm, which can often be the beginning signs of burnout, (well it is for me anyway) I get them to get all of their tasks down on paper. Getting everything out of your head is a great place to start. You can begin to make some sense of them, by grouping things together. Once you’ve got them down on paper then prioritise them in level of importance.
When you run your own business you often have this thing where you think you’re the only person that can do things. I know of no big company that works with a single-handed business owner, without any support network whatsoever, so why would us small business owners not need a hand from time to time. It’s unrealistic. So one of the quickest ways to come out of overwhelm is to focus on one thing. Then focus on the next one thing once that’s done. Try this if you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything.
- Do a brain dump – Get everything down on paper (blank sheet on next page)
(buy dishwasher tablets, decide on birthday present, book hospital appointment, feed the cat, finish project, hold meeting with someone, call someone, tidy office, deal with paperwork, fix back door lock)
- Divide your list into groups
(i.e. categories like ‘home’, ‘house bills’, or you can use priorities such as ‘must be done’, ‘should be done’ or even deadline dates, ‘this week’, ‘this month’, next month’)
Going back to your brain dump what are the key areas that you really want/need to focus on?
Remember the rule: Does it have to be done? Does it have to be done by you?
And the final top tip, if you haven’t figured it out already is to make self-care a priority.
Make Self-Care A Priority
If, like me, you make a decision (key words – make a decision) to make self-care a priority you will find that it doesn’t need to be this way. I still push very hard, but now I know my triggers. I have set very clear boundaries and ensure that no matter how busy I am there has to be a buffer of time for me to step back from my business. We think that we have to keep pushing but the time lost in burnout could be prevented if we acknowledged that self-care is vital.
Self-care shouldn’t be a quick fix that only kicks in when you’re at your most overwhelmed and burning out. It needs to be practiced consistently. We often go back to self-care when we need to be able to cope with all of the demands placed on us (whether by ourselves or others). You need to practice self-care on a continuous basis in order to prevent the burnout in the first place.
Self-care needs to be a maintenance strategy, not a coping strategy
Self-care can fit into 4 key areas – Physical, Mental, Emotional & Spiritual.
Here are a few examples for each area;
- Physical – Healthy & regular eating, exercise, general health & wellbeing, rest & relaxation, sleep
- Mental – unplugging, learning new skills, boundaries, problem solving, fulfilling work, goal setting, finding purpose & meaning
- Emotional – Relationships, friendships, community, mindset, forgiveness
- Spiritual – Connecting with nature, mindfulness, singing, creativity, self reflection, gratitude
Which of the 4 areas do you think you need to work on?
Choose one and commit to working on it as an area of self-care this month)
If you’re someone that suffers from burnout then I’d highly recommend you head over to The Burnout Queens website. Those ladies are the gurus on burnout and they share some fabulous tips, all in a really fun way. Check out their blog post on super copers, it’s called Red knickers and a cape. It talks about those super powers we think we have, or at least we think we should have. I know the last time I looked I didn’t have knickers on over my dress, but then it has been a very long time since I’ve been on a night out haha.
So to summarise 3 top tips for avoiding burnout at the busiest of busy times are;
- Get clear on your boundaries and say ’no’
- Get it all out of your head
- Make self-care a priority
Your call to action this week: Take action on one of these areas, and if you still feel you don’t have time for that then just start practicing the word, ‘no’. You’ll be amazed at how much more gets done when those two little letters are used.