TAKE TIME OUT BEFORE YOU BURN OUT
For a lot of people, July and August are going to be months of finally taking a summer holiday. How are you doing in anticipating this long-awaited time? Are you trying to rush rounding up things at work, in your household or planning the holiday? Or are you taking things slow? If not, you might be forced to (thank you, universe!)
Last week I have been forced to slow down by external circumstances, even twice. In this blog post, I would like to share with you my experience of slowing down and the strategies that helped me and could be helpful for you as well.
From rushing to moving slow
Firstly, on Monday, right after giving an evening yoga class, I sprained my ankle. I missed a few steps on the staircase at home when walking (read: rushing) downstairs. I was in a hurry to do some cleaning (at 9 pm, so probably not a good idea anyhow).
This incident scared me a lot: between the moment it happened and the moment I ended up seated on the floor, the whole life went in front of me. Would I be able to teach yoga ever again? How about my summer holiday in a few weeks? What if I broke my leg?… In the end, it was just a sprain and it was not that bad; the cracking sound of the sprain was scary but the actual sprain was not that bad. I was eternally grateful (to the universe?) that in the end, it was an easy sprain, not a broken bone. However, for a few days and until now, a week later, I was forced to literally move slower, being mindful when walking, cycling or doing yoga.
From overload to taking it easy
The second time I was reminded to take things slower, was a few days after the ‘ankle incident’ when I got my first covid vaccine. It was on Wednesday when I got a jab and I felt tired until Sunday. I have expected that I would experience some mild symptoms of sickness, but for some reason, I have not considered it in my agenda initially and have planned quite a few things with friends and tasks for work.
Already before these two incidents, I felt my energy is running out. I was easily irritable, I felt more tired, could not focus so well. No wonder, because the last two months I’m been juggling quite a few things in parallel: demanding projects at work, new projects for yoga and mindfulness business, and to top things off – renovations in the house. The latter one gave me lots of stress in particular. Home-working and renovation don’t go so well together. Anyway, I thought I can do it all, but the universe decided otherwise.
The ‘old me’ of a few years back would have pushed through all the pain and exhaustion, trying to work and perform as usual. But I have grown up from that ‘me’. The burnout I went through three years ago, had taught me to priorities my physical and mental health first.
Yes, it is still a work in progress to plan my schedule wisely and not to overestimate my capacity. But at the same time what I now know is to recognise the signals my body and mind are giving me I allow myself to stop and re-think what can I take off my plate or what self-care activities can I add.
How did I get back on track?
Time out before you burn out. This is a quote from someone I’ve heard a few years back, and this is exactly what I did: I paused, recognised the situation and made changes in my planning.
What I changed
- The biggest and the most difficult one: I admitted that the renovation works we wanted to accomplish before the holidays were causing me most of the mental pressure and physical exhaustion. So I decided not to do some of the works before the holidays. My husband was relieved as well!
- I cancelled a few social appointments with friends, and they understood completely! I’m learning not to feel guilty for this one, but it’s not always easy.
- I adapted my to-do list: I spread my household chores for a few days forward and also asked my husband to help more. Surprisingly, I did some other household tasks that I have been postponing for a while. This is because I finally had the energy and motivation to do them. At the same time, I didn’t work myself till exhaustion.
What I added as extra self-care
- I dedicated one evening just for myself: I followed a yin yoga class and I did a meditation RAIN of Tara Brach. This is my go-to meditation when I experience difficult emotions and can’t really pinpoint why. You can find it here: https://www.tarabrach.com/meditation-practice-rain/
- I slept longer: sleep is healing and I felt I need a couple of days when I slept half an hour longer; it made a huge difference!
- I practised yoga Nidra during my lunch breaks: it works like magic and better than any power nap! I have some yoga Nidra recordings on my website which you can find here: freeflowmindbody.com/meditations
- I reconnected with my husband: we finally went on a date. For the last few weeks, we have been so busy with renovating and discussing all practicalities, that we almost forgot to connect on a personal level and simply ask each other how we are really doing.
Now it’s your turn!
Do you feel as if your head is spinning around, the body is exhausted and the to-do list is endless? I invite you to spare 20-30 min, take a pen and paper and reflect on what’s happening in your life with these journal prompts:
♥ What is giving me the most mental pressure? If it’s difficult for you to identify, do the meditation of Tara Brach https://www.tarabrach.com/meditation-practice-rain/
♥ What am I trying to control in my life?
♥ What can I remove from your plans? Who can help me? What can I delegate at work or at home?
♥ Why do I need to accomplish everything on my to-do list? What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t?
♥ What can I do to replenish my energy? What favourite self-care activities can I do? It can be as simple as taking a day off, sleeping longer, or finally following that yoga class.
How do you feel about this reflection exercise? What can you remove from your to-do list already today?
What can you add as an act of self-care already today?
Don’t forget to celebrate this important step of slowing down – it’s very brave to admit that you need a time out. But by giving yourself a break, you replenish your energy to be able to do more for yourself and others around you. You can’t give if you don’t have any inner resources left.
P.S. Bonus – Practice with me!
If you read this post till the end, you will find my Mind & Body Reset class recording. It’s a 45-min practice combining standing mindful movement and yoga Nidra. Do this class in the evening and you will sleep like a baby!