5 Ways to Take Care of Yourself When You’re Suffering from Burnout

“There is no such thing as work/life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.” – Alain De Botton

This past weekend, I took part in a webinar from Uncustomary, a website about self-love, creativity and self-acceptance. The webinar, called “How To Achieve Your Dreams While Avoiding Breakdown and Burnouts,” was hosted by Uncustomary founder Mary England, who holds a B.A. in psychology, and Eboni Allard, a certified life coach who’s been self-employed for 19 years, both ladies have also dealt with mental health issues as well as burnout and breakdown.

If you’re anything like me, you love what you do, no matter how stressful it is. Writing is my life so it’s easy for me to get stressed and while it can be motivating (for some); the shift to burnout occurs when you neglect other aspects of your life.  Symptoms of burnout include feeling, alone, defeated and having a loss of motivation as well as feeling tired and sick (for me, it’s stomach aches, constantly). Burnout chemically occurs when your adrenaline and cortisol are too high for too long a period of time. Some of the symptoms also mimic other underlying issues so it’s important to monitor how you feel.

A breakdown is the adolescent relative of burnout, breakdown is when your external and internal needs are fighting and it’s not making you feel too good, which can also lead to deeper problems.

I have experienced both burnout and breakdown plenty. As a person who struggles with not only a mental illness, but a physical disability, how I feel internally is important for how I feel externally, and lately I’ve been feeling pretty terrible. That’s why when the opportunity to take part in this webinar popped up in my email, I jumped on it. The following things are what I took from my hour with Eboni and Mary:

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  1. Develop an energy budget: I’m an introvert so most of the time I keep to myself, but when I’m invited to do things with people. I think about the amount that what I have to do outside my house will require and once that energy is gone, the day is done and I have no choice but to recharge.
  2. Self-care is important: Contrary to what some might think, self-care does not require money. Creating time for yourself is how you learn what your body requires as well as what it cannot take anymore of. Do the things that make you happy and excite you; that can be anything from baking to swimming or just resting. This recharges your batteries in the long run.
  3. Make “no” a regular part of your vocabulary:  You are not required to keep giving yourself to others when you just can’t. It does not make you a bad friend, sometimes you have to say “no” in order to say “yes”, you have to be your own good friend, before you can be anyone else’s so you might not help your friend move this weekend, but in a few days after you’ve rested or taken care of other needs, you can help them put brand new furniture together.
  4. Sometimes you have to say something: We may not always want to tell people in our lives what’s going on, but it can be necessary. You don’t have to explain every time, with my friends I have a code word and I text it to them whenever I’m not doing too well. This allows me to take the time I need to and allows my friends the space to be supportive and check on me in a few days if they so desire.
  5. Build a Team: Support is important so surround yourself with people who make you feel supported. That could mean you need someone to cook for you because you haven’t eaten in a few days or just someone to come keep you company. (Don’t become completely dependent on them, but acknowledge it’s okay to need the help.) You can even assign titles if you want (my team has a President and Vice President), just make sure it’s people you know care about you and if you don’t have those kind of friends, seek them out, you’ll find them.

Taking this webinar opened my eyes to the ways I need to take care of myself. If I can’t be what I need to myself, I can’t be there for anyone else. I am my first priority and I have to be the one who constantly puts me first, when time calls for it.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

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