Recently, a pal tagged me in an Instagram snap about burnout. It listed some of the symptoms as persistant fatigue whilst sleeping lots, withdrawing from friends and social circumstances, brain fog that doesn’t seem to lift, and to name a few. It didn’t really surprise me that I recognised every listed sign, I’ve known for a while that I’ve been teetering on a knife edge of burnout, but it was the first time I realised that actually, I needed to do something about it.
Maybe that sounds kinda crazy to you, but when you live with chronic illness, sometimes it’s easy to blame things on your health rather than circumstance. And I think it’s certainly fair to say that some of my symptoms ARE due to my health, some of them are due to me pushing myself too far, doing more than I’m capable of, and overpromising myself.
When I’m burnt out, I’m more prone to mood swings, depressive moods, anxiety + withdrawing from my friends. I tend to stop eating properly, and losing interest in the things I normally love.
It’s also worth noticing that some of my health issues link directly with stress. My thyroid is all out of whack, I struggle with adrenal fatigue, I’m severely anaemic and deficient in just about every vitamin there is. Because of my health I need to be a little more careful, it’s easier for me to push myself too far, so I’m trying really hard to fix it. Here are some of the things I’m doing to try and correct the balance.
Prioritising my morning routine.
It’s time I admit the truth, I’m not a morning person. Even when I’m well, and NOT teetering on the edge of burnout, I struggle with mornings. Forcing myself to be up and productive first thing in the morning just doesn’t work. Instead of pushing myself to do what hurts my health, I’ve started setting my alarm a little later, and starting my morning’s slower. I know for a fact that my days are happier and more productive when I start my day with a solid slow morning routine, a little stretching, a healthy breakfast and some journaling with my first cup of coffee. Obviously changing your schedule may not work for everyone, but even if you can make a small change that would help, like five minutes outside in the morning, it’s worth doing it.
Not making social plans.
Obviously, saying no to ALL socialising isn’t always practical, but on this occasion, I’m cancelling or saying no to anything not compulsory. It’s sad but true, socialising is one of things I find most mentally and physically draining, so right now, I’ve put it on hold. Luckily, I’ve got a circle of great pals who get it, and who are also happy to limit our social interaction to the occasional impromptu coffee date.
Fresh air, every day.
It’s hard with this terrible ‘summer’ weather we’re having in the UK, but even if it’s just sitting in the armchair in our bedroom with the window wide open, I’m trying to spend 10-15 minutes getting some good fresh air every day. In an ideal world that looks like an evening beach walk or a morning lap around the gardens behind our place, but even if it’s just sitting by the window, I feel better for a few minutes focusing on my breath with the fresh air.
Routine and relaxation.
One thing I definitely need when I’m burnt out is routines. I’m trying to stick with a pattern when it comes to sleeping, eating and work time. I’m also trying to enforce real downtime, single tasking, and less phone time.
Finding movement that works for me.
Whilst cardio isn’t in my wheelhouse at the moment anyway, my body is way too weak for it, cardio also causes a cortisol spike, which is the last thing I need right now. Instead of intense workouts I’m looking for something more balanced and slow. That means yoga, pilates, and walks in nature, and so far that works for me.
List accomplishments, not just to dos.
The chances are you definitely have a to do list. But do you have a lift of things you’ve accomplished recently? No matter how small, take a little time at the end of each day to list the things you’ve achieved. Some days for me, that’s as small as getting dressed, and cooking a good dinner, but that’s okay. Focus on the good, not just the still to dos.
Have you ever been burntout?