Stress. Overdrive. Fatigue. Collapse.
A few weeks ago, I posted on Instagram that I’m burnt out. Between my job, boyfriend, our house, friends and family, this blog, other projects and ventures, making sure we have food on the table every night, and trying to squeeze in a workout here and there, I’m exhausted. And all of you with kids? I don’t know how you do it. You amaze me.
But really, these feelings I’ve been experiencing are no different than ones you’ve had, I’m sure. We’re all busy! Stress happens to the best of us. I simply took on too many things too quickly—a classic tale that’s left me feeling like I’m not doing a good job at any of them.
You know how, when your computer is overheated, the fan runs constantly? That’s what’s happening in my head lately. I can’t cool it and focus on one thing at a time anymore. As a result, I’ve been thinking a lot about balance and how to find it. I set out specifically looking for achievable modifications that can help me make a big lifestyle change, rather than a temporary fix, like going on vacation (though that sounds great too!). I narrowed down the top 10 practical adjustments I’m going to try, so I can get myself back on track.
- Let go. Admit that feeling burnt out doesn’t mean you’re weak, or that you failed. — I’m a natural workaholic; it’s hard to let go and relax. But, it’s also impossible to do it all. And that’s ok.
- Prioritize. — It’s important to recognize what can wait. If I don’t get around to cleaning the bathroom today, so be it. Life goes on. But, I do need to eat and sleep. So, while to-do lists can help (both written and mental ones), not everything on that list needs to be done right away.
- Become more selfish. — Take time to focus on me. Put creative energy into personal projects that I want to be doing and will help me feel fulfilled. Say no if need be.
- Exercise. — Ok, ok. I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. I recently found out that when our heart rates rise, our bodies naturally go into fight or flight. The more you exercise and get your heart rate up, the more your brain will recognize the fast heartbeat as normal. Fascinating, right? Even though it’s sometimes hard to fit it in, I’ve already benefitted from adding exercise into my regular routine and hope it’ll help to curb my anxiety and stress.
- Just do it. Nope, this one isn’t a Nike commercial, and it’s not about sex. It’s about overthinking. I sit and look at my daunting to-do list, or a list of blog posts I want to write, and become paralyzed. I find myself focusing first on the menial tasks that I know will be quick, and then never get to the substantial stuff. Time to change that, to stop thinking and start acting. Big things await!
- Remember and repeat the mantra, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” — World’s biggest perfectionist? Guilty. And I need to get to the bottom of it. Why do I care so much about doing everything perfectly? Does anyone else even notice? What is perfect anyway? How much time am I really wasting worrying about small details? To overcome this one, it’ll be necessary to get a little introspective, I think.
- Journal. — I’m a little skeptical because part of me thinks this is just something else that will take up those fleeting spare minutes, but I’ve read a lot about the benefits of journaling. Sometimes, I just need to get something off my chest, and journaling is great for that. But, an even more helpful way to journal may be to record accomplishments, concerns, and so on. Tracking the things that I’m overwhelmed by, including how much of my time they take up, could help me figure out why they stress me out so much in the first place. From there, I can take steps to figure out how to move past them, or stop doing them altogether. And, on the flip side, I can focus more on the things that do make me happy and fulfilled.
- Reframe my thinking to be more positive. — For one reason or another, my brain tends to first assume the worst. It may benefit my burnout to reframe negative situations or circumstances, and give people the benefit of the doubt. For example, instead of assuming someone is ignoring me, and subsequently worrying about it (“Did I do something wrong?”), look at alternative reasons as to why I haven’t heard from them. They have other things going on, and it might not actually be about me! (Gasp!)
- Practice meditation and/or yoga. — Plain and simple, my anxiety has escalated since I’ve been feeling burnt out. Although it’s hard for me to do, I need to allow myself time to unwind. Burdened by a crowded mind, I never thought I’d benefit from meditation, let alone enjoy it. But, I started using the meditation app Headspace and practicing some beginner’s yoga with my girl, YouTube yogi Adriene, and I feel incredibly relaxed after both. I’m working on adding these into my routine, even if only for 10 minutes a day.
- Plan ahead and try your best to stick to a schedule. — I don’t want to lose all spontaneity by setting my life to a strict schedule, but in order to get myself back on track and accomplish the things I’ve been avoiding, it might be necessary to create a loose schedule. I plan to start using Google calendar to fill in slots for dedicating time outside of work hours to various projects I’ve been needing or wanting to do—including rest and relaxation. Otherwise, I’ll waste away, allowing myself to be overwhelmed by all the things I need to do and continue agonizing over where to start. But, no matter what, I need to remember that interruptions happen. If the schedule doesn’t always pan out, so be it. The plan is to help guide my time, not restrict it.
Have you tried any of these things when you were feeling completely overwhelmed? How’d they work for you? What other ways do you find balance while juggling a bajillion things in life?