Woman with long brown hair recovering face down on white bed from burnout

What I do when burnout hits and how to recover

I’m feeling a little exhausted. I won’t lie.

I spend a lot of energy protecting my boundaries and planning for a balanced workflow. Avoiding burnout is a bit of an obsession for me. As a mother, business owner and family member, I have to make a lot of choices about how I spend my time. So what happens when burnout hits and how do you recover?

How burnout happened to me.

I’ve been working hard at finding balance for the last decade or so. BUT, I’m human, so sometimes I break my own rules. I recently worked late every night for three weeks in a row. My clients didn’t notice. My team probably didn’t really notice. But I noticed, and my mental health and sense of balance certainly took a hit. I’m disappointed that I let myself down.

Why am I sharing this? As the one year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic passes, I feel like we all need to be reminded to be kind to ourselves. Reflecting on the last few weeks, I realize I was really excited about all the great work coming in. I was operating on the adrenaline of seeing business spring-boarding back from the challenges of 2020. I forgot to keep tabs on my time blocking practise.

Good habits to avoid mental & emotional collapse with work.

It’s amazing how the universe gives us what we need to get us back on track. When a student emailed me this question after presenting in their class at the VIU Design Program last week, I was reminded of how off track I was feeling:

“My schedule has gotten busier and I’m struggling to give myself enough time for self care. Do you have any techniques, strategies or resources to convince yourself to do self care?”

I was honest in my reply. I reminded them that practicing good habits to avoid burnout is an ongoing challenge. Self-care / work / life balance is an ongoing practise, not a goal post. I’m grateful when others view me as an “expert” and I get a chance to respond and inspire. By giving advice, I’m also recommitting to my priorities, and the practices that work for me. This is some of what I shared with them:

I definitely time-block out “self care” in my calendar to remind myself that not all time should be dedicated to “work”. Just because our work can be fun, NOTHING is fun if you’re not taking care of your basic human needs. I’ve learned this over and over again. But it’s worth paying attention to, especially when you design your own work/life balance, you really have no one else to blame, which is challenging too, in its own way. 

I find it helpful to write down what I need to feel happy / healthy and balanced and then literally putting these things in my calendar, in thematic time blocks. It feels simplistic, but it truly works. Much like we create routines for our children, we need routines for ourselves so self-care becomes something we don’t have to think about, or continue to argue to find time for. It all circles back to the larger convo about what does a happy / successful life look like to you? The more you can get focused on this, the easier it will become to make decisions about how you spend your time.

Recommitting to wellness

I’m not sure who else needs to hear this today, but I definitely needed to hear this question. I needed a reminder of my own inner knowing. And some kind self-talk for breaking my own rules. Now, after checking in with my needs and re-calibrating my time blocking, this week is already off to a healthier start. A couple of full nights’ sleep always helps too!

How do you manage your time to avoid burnout and how do you recover? What do you find helpful when you’ve over-committed? Get in touch.