To read Part I of Battling Burnout click here.
I wish I could say I didn’t have to hit “rock bottom” before I decided to care about my well-being. I am still working on forgiving myself for ignoring the many signs of over-exertion but I’m grateful for the wake-up call.
Listening and Reflecting
I wanted to be very intentional with the changes I made.
Rather than turning my life around on a whim, I began to show up and listen to myself. I started by asking myself some hard questions (which I’ve turned into journal prompts for you) and this empowered me to advocate for my well-being.
Asking myself these questions gave me insight into where I found joy and what was making me unhappy.
Deciding to Change
In doing this, I realized that the biggest changes I needed to make were to:
- my understanding of productivity
- my daily routine
“Life is not meant to be a series of to-do lists”
I repeat this mantra to myself daily.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re introducing yourself to someone new, you typically start by telling them what you do for work?
I’ve always attached my personal value to the amount of labour I was able to produce for someone else. My identity became my job and I felt worthless when I wasn’t being “productive”. So, I’d forego most things (like comfort or sleep) for praise or the chance to get ahead . I’d take extra certification classes, take on more responsibility at work, break my back for my employers…
I began to question why I was putting myself in these situations:
“Who and what was I doing all of this for?”
I quickly realized that nothing I was doing was for me.
After saving up enough money, I decided that I was going to quit my full-time job**. Spending time healing and nurturing myself was imperative to my well-being. I needed the space to understand who I was outside of my productivity and I needed a clean slate to do this.
My Daily Routine
This goes hand in hand with my productivity habits.
I had grown accustomed to putting my own physical, mental and emotional needs on the back burner for other people or things. At the time, I didn’t see anything wrong with friends/family, work or school taking precedent, but after I quit my job, I realized how unsustainable my actions were.
My first full day as a semi-unemployed person (I work freelance now), was the first time I’d slept in. I remembered to stand up every hour to stretch. I took my dog for a long walk, ate full meals, and re-incorporated exercise into my routine. It was only in doing these things that I realized how much my body had been craving self-love and attention.
Isn’t it crazy how easy it is to forego taking care of yourself? I swear life gets crazy and the first thing that goes out the window is all of your self-care practices.
Creating Sustainable Changes
Much of my relationship with myself is trial and error. I have no idea if everything I’m doing is beneficial, but I’m trying my best!
Right now, I’m working on creating healthy, sustainable relationships with rest, nutrition and movement so that when I do go back to a full-time job, I have a routine that works well for me. I’m not focusing on being perfect; I’m focusing on listening to my body and showing up for myself where I can.
I created this little guide to help me create some healthy habits and I hope it inspires you to keep yourself accountable.
Re-establishing an effective self-care routine and leaving a situation that no longer served me has only benefitted me. I’m getting to know myself again and understanding what I like and WHY I like it. I’m finally maneuvering through life more intentionally and taking time to understand WHY I make certain decisions. For once, other people’s needs don’t take precedent over mine.
This is a gentle reminder from me to you that the body keeps score. Listen to those little voices telling you to say NO, to rest and to recharge. You are deserving of care because you are a PERSON. You do not need to check off everything on your to-do list, read a bunch of productivity books on power and persuasion or have your own TED talk by 30 to have value.
Rest is a right NOT a reward.
**a note from me: Having the luxury to quit my job is something that I do not take lightly. I recognize that I am in an incredibly privileged position – due to my wonderful community of family and friends – that has awarded me the ability to make these decisions. Not everyone is in the position to leave their full time job and I am NOT encouraging you to quit your work on a whim. Before quitting my job, I made a plan of how long I would not be working for, my expenses, etc., If leaving your job is not feasible for you that is OK! There are small ways to incorporate self-care practices into your day that will leave you feeling less depleted.