Battling Burnout: Why You Need to Take a Break

cycle of burnout

Have you ever found yourself battling between what you want to do and what you have to do? Ever found yourself repeating principles and practices that you sometimes fall short of? (E.g. finding a balance between work & play). I definitely have. A few weeks ago, I had zero energy. Yet I was still pushing myself to write more, be more creative, jump into every Twitter chat and spend time with my friends/family.

Sometimes it’s hard when you’re torn between wants and needs. What I actually needed was a break (which I eventually took!) but I found myself constantly pushing in the opposite direction – working harder and asking myself for more. If you can relate read on 🙂

I hope that I can encourage other people who are going through this to see the signs and work towards a healthier work/life balance. Funnily enough, writing this also helps me to work through the issue. Please feel free to share your own experiences in the comments section below!

The Dilemma

Time. There just never seems to be enough of it. There’re the demands of work, connecting & collaborating with new people (which I love), training and attempting to have a social life. I may have successfully managed to squeeze all of these things in. But what I didn’t realise was that doing this was eating into the most important time of every day.

Rest.

Burnout doesn’t happen overnight. It is an accumulation of trying to do too much in one given time. Both mentally & physically taxing yourself to the point that your body quite literally says: stop right now. Yet when this little voice began to appear, I didn’t initially listen. Here’s why;

My Reasons Excuses
  1. I love everything that I do (work, blogging, connecting with people, training as an athlete) and giving something up wouldn’t make me happy.
  2. My expectation of myself is to produce 1 quality piece of content every week and don’t want to let anyone down
  3. If I stop now, how the hell will I manage to pick things up where I left off???
What This Forced me to Realise

You cannot fully enjoy anything that you do when you’re burnt out. All of these things that contribute to my happiness were actually being wasted because I wasn’t able to be at my best. I also noted that;

  1. Being too hard on myself is not going to help me produce quality work
  2. The phrase “make time” actually means you may take away from other crucial daily activities (e.g. rest & relaxation)
  3. I’m human…. not iRobot
Resolving this Issue

Sometimes admitting that there’s an issue is the most difficult thing to do! It is, however, the first step to finding a resolution. As soon as I recognised that I was feeling burnt out, here’s what I did to get back on track:

PRIORITISE REST –  this was literally my saving grace. For two weeks I wrote absolutely nothing, jumped into no more than 1 or 2 online chats per day, spent my entire weekend relaxing & visiting family instead of working. Oh and most importantly, I got at least 7 hours of sleep each night.

My body thanked me for it. My mind was elated. Finally, I started to feel better.

Put Yourself First – There’s nothing wrong with wanting to help other people. You can’t, however, help others if you’re not at your best. Don’t be afraid to say no if it means you will feel better in the long run.

Make a Realistic Plan – Remember the first thing that I said. Was Time the dilemma? It isn’t. Trying to fit an unreasonable amount of work into 24 hours is. Have a shut-off point – if you haven’t ticked everything off of your ‘to do’ list by 7 pm then tackle it tomorrow. Utilize your time well and remember that you will be more productive if you feel good.

Going through this once doesn’t mean that it may never happen again. But at least now I have some steps in place to work through it! If you’ve been through this or are going through it now, please share your experiences. How do you tackle it? What have you learned? It would be great to hear from all of you 🙂

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