How do you recover from burnout? Last time I experienced it I was writing out a blog post and my mind was reeling. “Did I post on Instagram today? I think I just got an email, I hope its a new client. Did my check arrive in the mail yet? Have I checked the mail? Yes, twice. I think. Omg what am I even writing, who will even read this?! I’m such a failure…” I hadn’t realized, but my heart was beating out of my chest and my breathing was quick and heavy, I was feeling dizzy but I kept typing… determined to finish writing out that blog post.
“Are you ok?!”, my husband, Keal was at my side with this worried look on his face. I got irritated and started yelling at him. Couldn’t he see that I was in the middle of writing a blog post? I was on a schedule and he was interrupting. He told me I was breathing funny and I shot him a death stare that made him walk away slowly and that’s when I saw my reflection on the window. Dark circles under my eyes, crazy frizzy hair, yoga pants and a ratty shirt, mountains of half drunk drinks on my desk, my dog in a corner looking at me with a quizzical expression and the worst look I have ever seen on my face. I had burnt out and didn’t even realize it.
I had been having tiny panic and anxiety ridden attacks without knowing it. I refused to acknowledge that I was taking on too much and had lost myself in the process. I had become this irritable and unhealthy sad sack. Even the most menial tasks had become something related to climbing Everest. The thing about burning out is that you don’t really see it coming. You become so determined to accomplish things that you work yourself dead while chugging down copious amounts of coffee and sporting a resting bitch face in a non-stop blur of accomplishment.
Basically, you’re losing it. You’re exhausted, visibly plumper (or pre-skeletal) and in a perpetual state of grump. Burnout is a bitch. Now I’m not here to tell you that you need to “be less stressed!” or “take long walks on the beach!”, “life is about balance”… I’m here to tell you actionable and reasonable steps you can take to get out of the funk and kiss burnout goodbye.
I call it… the 5 Step Chill Sesh! AKA The 5 steps to recover from burnout. It’s designed to help you chill and get back to being yourself while getting rid of that horrible state of burnout. Ready?
Chill Sesh Step One: Step Away From Your Tech
First get rid of the problem. Once you realize you have burnt out and cannot continue any longer, step away and leave your tech behind. If you have a full time job, do this on a weekend. I mean it, no tech whatsoever, no Insta or Snap or anything… You need to detox so eliminating the outside world is a must. You need to focus on yourself and what’s goin’ on inside. So anything that will re-focus your attention to the stress of business or comparing yourself to strangers on the Internet must go.
Chill Sesh Step Two: Cleanse The Bad Juju
Once you eliminate all technology, it is time to focus on you. First, get your butt in a bubble bath (if that’s not your thing, just take a long hot shower). Theres certain meditative properties about doing a relaxing and grooming activity. The physical and mental act of taking care of your body literally lifts your spirits up and helps you recover from burnout. It’s cleansing! Imagine after months of being burnt out, and focusing on your stress and worries, that energy builds up and creates a block. Practicing self care will make you feel better about yourself and the act of actually cleaning away all the bad juju helps clear out any blocks too. You can clear out your space, clean your house, organize, take a long bath, anything that makes you feel like you are practicing some cleansing self care.
Chill Sesh Step Three: Self Reflect
In order for you to minimize the chances of burning out again, you have to do some deep reflecting work on why it happened in the first place. For example… the last time I burnt out I was ugly crying on the floor feeling sorry for myself repeating over and over that I just wasn’t enough. There was only one of me and I had to do everything on my own. How was I supposed to blog and pin and Instagram and create e-courses and tend to my clients and think of strategies and ads and taxes… I had become overwhelmed.
My mom (who is a very cool therapist), had me write down all my worries and reflect on them. She had me prioritize things and think about what evoked bad feelings and what made me happy. I loved this exercise. There was something about seeing it all on paper, my thoughts, my to-do lists and everything in between, that released the power they had over me.
To self reflect, grab a piece of paper and create two columns. On column one, write out everything that you needed to do that stressed you out, what caused the burnout, your to-do list. On column two, imagine each item separately and notice how your body reacts. If you feel tension, jaw-clenching, or uncomfortable fidgeting, vs, a spontaneous smile, sighs of relief, muscles relaxing, or just peace, write it out on the column.
Self reflection helps give some clarity and a better understanding of how you feel. At the end of the day, know that you are one person and you should be kind to yourself. From your column pick the things that are most important for you to accomplish and just stick to that. For example, I put Facebook and Twitter on the back burner so I could concentrate on Instagram and Pinterest for now.
Chill Sesh Step Four: Go Out Into The Real World!
There’s something about leaving your environment and venturing out to new ones that gives you perspective. Sometimes all you need is to go somewhere new or talk to other people to start feeling like yourself again. I know when I take breaks I try to hang out with friends I haven’t seen in a while. I love hearing other people stories and struggles, not to compare them to my own, but to feel less alone, less of a freak that just had this horrible meltdown. Hearing stories, or even reading them on the internet, brings me back down to earth, it takes me out of my bubble. Even walking my dog around the block and getting some real fresh air is good. Being present in the moment, seeing the trees and connecting with nature is good for the soul and helps recover from burnout!
Chill Sesh Step Five: Go To Sleeeeeeeeep!
Chances are, you’ve had terrible nights due to burnout. You either haven’t had a decent sleep tossing and turning all through the night or you just haven’t slept at all. Catch up on some zzz’s! Did you know sleep makes you smarter, better-looking, and more creative? It’s why it’s called beauty sleep! You need a solid 6-8 hours, so get to it! Naps optional 🙂
If all else fails, meditation is a great, easy and totally free tool that helps regulate your life.
Have you experienced burnout? What do you do to overcome it? Shout out in the comments below!