Life has become busier; life is faster paced, we try to fit in more things and wonder where the year has gone. Social media sucks us into comparing our lives to others, believing we need to do more, to achieve more, all to the detriment of our health. Eventually, we burn out. How do we know we’re burnt out? There are a number of different burnout symptoms including social withdrawal, lack of energy and feeling helpless.
It’s time to start being kind to ourselves. Here’s how to prevent burnout and work towards a positive year.
Create a schedule
In your schedule, include everything from sleep, rest, eating, exercise, work, relaxation, appointments; everything that’s important to you. Now, I like structure because I can easily get sidetracked so I schedule a time for everything, making sure I stick to the times and the length of time I’ve set for each task. Alternatively, if you feel you can stay on track but need more of a flow and less rigid guidelines, schedule the priority tasks first and then let the rest of your day flow. As you go through your day, check off your tasks.
Make your list the afternoon or evening beforehand and decide whether you’re going to do self-care tasks first or after obligatory tasks like work or appointments. Reduce your expectations, don’t expect to do it all and work on balancing out your day.
Get your morning routine right
They say that if you can start your morning off on the right foot, the rest of the day is likely to flow the same way. I’m a big fan of reading motivational quotes to start the day with a positive mindset; you might want to write a few things that you are grateful for or write in a journal.
Starting the day on a positive food almost always leads to a positive day because of your positive energy.
Decide what’s important to you
Sometimes we tend to put way too much time and effort into things that aren’t that important. Stop and think of what is important in your life and build your life around that. How do you figure out what you value? Think about what makes you the happiest, the proudest and the most fulfilled.
Learn something new
This is one of my favourite self-care strategies because I find it so enriching and part of my personal growth. I find learning something new extremely empowering, and I love the new perspectives I develop. Learning something new goes beyond bringing economic benefit though, like getting a new or better job. Lifehacker explains the scientific side of learning something new, it essentially helps us rewire our brains and builds confidence.
Learning something new can be anything from reading a book, listening to a podcast, watching a documentary, taking a short online course or taking a class.
Moving your body is a self-care strategy that will create endorphins that’ll keep you positive, focused and avoiding burnout. I’m not saying you have to sign up at the gym and workout every day; I just mean you need to get your body moving, whether it be a brisk daily walk or a home workout in the lounge room. If you think about exercise as reaching a goal instead of losing kilos, it’ll make it even more enjoyable too.
Take time for you
If you’re anything like me, you put everything and everyone else first and forget about yourself. Whether it’s allowing yourself ten minutes to sit and enjoy your cup of tea, scheduling in a yoga class or meeting your friends for a drink, make sure you add this self-care time to your schedule (point 1).
One of the key points to avoiding burnout is stepping away from the busyness of motherhood or work or home life to enjoy time with yourself and essentially reset yourself. Remember, pampering yourself is healthy not frivolous.
Take a holiday
Are you one of those people who has loads of holiday leave banked up but you’re either too worried to take it or too busy? Well change that thinking right now.
Organisational Psychologist Julia Knight explains this as the ‘Psychological Contract’, an unwritten set of rules that you have created, it’s what you deem reasonable in your workplace and set of rules you have made in your head. Knight shares an example as someone who is concerned they’ll leave their co-workers in the lurch if they go on leave; they don’t want to break the psychological contract, they’d feel too guilty. Knight explains that some people feel they’re too busy to take leave, worrying that everything will fall apart if they leave. Ms Knight urges people to ask themselves, ‘Is this really true?’
If you’ve got plenty of holiday leave saved up then it’s time you use it and go on a holiday, there is no psychological contract, just your physical work contract that says you ARE entitled to this leave.
Disconnect from digital
I’ve referred to this ‘digital detox’ in a lot of my articles and can’t recommend it more as a self-care strategy. Disconnect yourself from all things digital – the television, social media, the internet. It doesn’t have to be for months but taking time from tech for a few days each month or week is necessary in our fast-paced tech world. Being connected all the time is a huge drain. In addition to disconnecting, ensure your notifications are turned off too.
This is something that has taken me a while to learn. I have always wanted to do everything straight away and end up finding myself overwhelmed because I’ve taken on too much and have unreasonable time frames. Look after yourself by taking small steps and doing what you can.
Find a creative outlet
When it happens, it’s quite obvious that burnout interferes with our ability to perform well but it also increases rigid thinking, and decreases our ability to think accurately, flexibly, and creatively. (Noworol, et al., 1993) Having a creative outlet outside of things like work or parenting will ensure your mind is engaged and your motivation levels are maintained. If you don’t have a creative outlet or don’t know where to start, read my article on ‘How to discover your inner creative guru.’
If you’re looking for a fresh focus this year after a year of overwhelm, perhaps this guide to prevent burnout is the best place to start.
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