Key strategies for avoiding burnout and optimising wellness.
“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” – Audre Lorde.
The concept of working a 9-5, Monday-Friday work week is something which feels strangely foreign to me. For as long as I can remember, I have worked in roles that have demanded a lot of my time and energy. To add the podcast, this blog, brand partnerships, coaching and consulting on top of an already demanding full-time job could easily become a recipe for disaster.
I have been working harder this past year than I ever have in my life. My schedule is so full that I am typically working 16+ hour days, plus Saturdays and the occasional half Sunday too. Let me be clear – I am not mentioning this for sympathy, or bragging rights or because I am recommending overworking to anyone. In fact, I don’t recommend overworking at all- especially if there isn’t a clear purpose or intention behind it. Burning the candle at both ends is something that I have experienced one too may times, and has often resulted in me experiencing sickness, exhaustion and severe burnout.
I am constantly seeking new ways to optimise my routine and put measures in place to handle my workload, avoid burnout and optimise my mental wellness. Here are a few practices which I’ve found hugely beneficial:
I have practiced daily meditation for around two years now. Every morning, I start my day with 10 minutes of guided meditation using the headspace app. This practice provides me with a sense of calm and control, and helps me to focus on the present moment. When I start the day with a sense of calm rather than chaos, it really does set the tone for the rest of the day.
Incorporating breathing and cold water showers as part of my morning routine has become amongst some of the most beneficial practices I’ve developed. I practice breathing using the Wim Hof Method, and highly recommend to anyone who is looking for more energy, calm and mental clarity in their life. Whilst breathing is an unconscious process and something we inherently do, the benefits of conscious breathing are exponential. As Wim Hof says:
“Breathing is the easiest and most instrumental part of the autonomic nervous system to control and navigate. In fact, the way you breathe strongly affects the chemical and physiological activities in your body.”
Some of the benefits of international, controlled breathing include:
Since incorporating Wim Hof breathing and cold water showers in my daily routine 9 months ago, I have not experienced any sickness or burnout.
In our new ways of working, I have found scheduling in breaks to be more important than ever before. It is so easy to get consumed in a screen for hours at a time. Scheduling in a designated time to get up, stretch your legs and get some fresh air is so important.
According to Psychology Today, regular breaks are essential for your physical and emotional health. Regular breaks can prevent decision fatigue, restore motivation and increase productivity and creativity.
I make it a point to get out for 15 minutes mid morning to get a coffee, and also go for a walk at lunchtime. I also usually do a workout around 5 or 6pm in the evenings, before I log back on to work for the night. You can read about my work from home routine here.
Saying yes to too many things can be a source of overwhelm and consequently a cause of burnout. One thing I have actively worked on this past year is learning how to say no. Saying no can be challenging for many of us, specifically when people when people-pleasing tendencies have been engrained in us.
One thing I have learnt is that saying no isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. If I said yes to every request for coffee or invitation I received, I simply wouldn’t have the space to do the things that really matter. I’m referring to those needle moving tasks that make the greatest impact. Or spending quality time with the people who fuel my soul. Or simply making time to self-care.
Saying no and learning to create structure and parameters around the things you will do vs. won’t do, is necessary if you want to avoid burnout.
Taking time to self-care is paramount. There is nothing quite like carving out time to destress, decompress and do things that are good for your soul.
There are a few ways I like to self care, and I have a full article on this topic which you can read about here.
What are some of the ways you avoid burnout and optimise wellness in your life? I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions, please leave your comments below!