The 4th of July holiday this year gave me a gift. I hit a point of burnout and knew I needed time to do nothing. As the holiday got closer, I could feel the energy shifting and my focus diverting to what I needed most – rest.
Life has different seasons. Sometimes it’s a lot of rest and small bits of action. Other times it’s a lot of action and small bits of rest. I have processes I use to avoid burnout but sometimes life sways the other direction and I eventually have to simply stop.
When I knew it was time to stop, I did. I sat and read for many hours. I took walks outside, chatted with my husband, journaled, meditated, sat and stared, sat around a firepit with my family, and sat around another firepit with our neighbors. It was blissful.
Instinctively we know when we need a break and we don’t always have the opportunity to do so. When I felt my burnout coming on, I looked ahead at how I can create more time for joy and rest. Below are ideas I pulled from what I’ve used in the past as well as some new ideas I’m putting into place.
Build in rest: When I say yes to doing things, I look at the whole month. When I have a lot scheduled during the days and nights, I say no instead of yes. I leave room for flexibility on both ends – meaning if something comes up last minute and I’m feeling good, I’ll say yes, or vice versa. I’m currently working full-time and am running a side business. Because of my choice to do both of these things, I have less yeses during my current life season.
Keep the communication honest and open: If I’m in a busy season, I tell people I’m in a busy season. Not everyone gets it but I know the ones who understand will be there when I’m on the other side.
Go outside: I love exercising so you’d think that going outside would be easy. Once I’m out, I enjoy myself but I have to push myself out the door. I eat lunch at my desk more times than I’d like and it’s easier for me to sit inside and read than to go for a walk. The fresh air and being in nature clears my head and helps me shift perspective. My body and brain feels rejuvenated after spending time outside.
Keep it social: Laughter and connection help me thrive. During the busy times I’m not able to make all the events and get togethers that I do when I’m not busy but I do make sure I still make time to laugh and connect with others. Outside of meeting up with friends on the weekends, I build it into my work day by scheduling lunches and coffee meet ups.
Stop with the phone: I love technology and I love my phone, more than I’d like! A few months ago I did a five day challenge to not look at my phone for the first hour in the morning. I have gone back to using my phone for meditation in the morning and am much better about staying off of it for that first hour, outside of meditation. I leave my phone in a different room when I relax and am going to build in more separation from it because most of the time I’m not missing anything important when I’m not looking at it.
When I’m facing a busy season, my body, mind, and spirit appreciates my ability to shift focus to downtime and relaxation. Life is not always exactly the way we want it to be but we get to choose what we focus on and prioritize as it happens and that is a gift.