I grew up with a single mother, who worked harder than anyone I have ever met. When I was younger, I watched in amazement as she managed to get up at 4 in the morning, workout, and get us off to school, only for her to be the first to arrive at her office. And every afternoon, as five o’clock rolled around, she would greet my siblings and I in aftercare with a big smile and open arms. Once we would return home, we would have dinner together and discuss our days.
In a sense, it all felt perfect. Maybe perfect isn’t the right word, because Dad was still dead, it just felt safe. But because of this safety, I glamorized my mother. I admired her strength, resiliency, and ability to conquer it all. So much so, that I developed the same work ethic, determination, and perseverance. It wasn’t until I grew a little older, and wiser, that I learned what it cost her.
And, similarly to my young, naive, 8-year-old-self, society glamorizes doing it all, but never portrays the whole picture. Yes, my mom did it all, but she did so while grieving, losing sleep, forgetting her own self-care, and running herself to the ground. But we never seem to want to talk about the blazing crash that follows the pursuit of perfection, whatever that may mean for you.
Burnout is real and finally we have begun discussing it. However, it is also time we address it. We shouldn’t be waiting until we reach burnout to finally be doing something about it. We need to begin preventing it before it’s too late.
Unfortunately, taking spa-days, week-long vacations, or even having a night to yourself is not possible for everyone. So, the following are very small things that most can address and may not even recognize contribute to burnout.
- Don’t diet – being in a caloric deficit is a stressor to the body. If your body is already at a high level of stress, it will make it difficult to effectively combat stress in other areas of your life.
- Go with the seasons of your life – if you are feeling drained and eating out or skipping that workout will be better for your mental well-being, do that. Wellness is not just about eating balanced or getting workouts in, it is also about rest, recovery, emotions, and connections.
- Focus on one goal at a time – it is scientifically proven that humans are not capable of multi-tasking effectively, so choose one goal to invest in. This goal should be something that allows for you to grow, evolve, and succeed. And as scary as it may sound, give yourself grace if this means you can only give around 20 percent to other things. Not everything is as important is it seems.
- Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for support – maybe it means asking a friend to cover a shift, or asking someone to watch the kids, or letting someone in, whatever it is, don’t be ashamed to ask for support if that is what will keep you safe and sane.
- Prioritize sleep – this usually means logging off of social media or shutting down electronics but is also about discovering a nighttime routine that allows for you to feel rested. It is not just about how much sleep you get, but the quality of sleep, as well.
Most importantly, remember this: we either make time for rest now or are forced to make time for it later.
None of us are superhuman. And that’s okay. It’s honestly a beautiful thing, trust me.