Balance is the hardest thing to accomplish for every human, and I mean every human. I don’t care if you are working at a bar or a Fortune 500 company, everyone struggles with having a healthy flow of work, personal time, friend time, significant other time, family time… see my point? In my opinion, I feel like true “balance” doesn’t even exist. It’s more like people consistently strive and work towards balance amidst a constant teeter-totter of work and play. If we continue to have our insecurities drive us wild on an empty tank were bound to cause some seriously horrible consequences for all parties involved.
Having taken off 6 months off of work due to cancer treatment, I came back feeling (semi) refreshed and ready to hit the ground running like a lot of people feel when they jumpstart a new job. However, I still do hit a wall sometimes, especially while I’m still feeling some side effects from radiation — they are supposed to linger for 4-6 months. So, now more than ever, it is so important for me to listen to my mind and body and step away from my laptop when I feel the need to. This is SO much easier said than done. It takes a while to be able to flag symptoms of fatigue and burnout, especially when you are passionate about what you’re doing or are really motivated to succeed at a new job.
I have personally found that taking anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 minutes of break time once or twice a day saves me about an hour of work throughout an 8-hour work day. This conscious productivity trickles down throughout the day and even throughout the week so you can say yes to that spontaneous happy hour or dinner — because you deserve it!!
Some common symptoms that I experience (and you may to) are eye strain and weakness, sore back and thighs, head aches, sluggishness, lack of motivation etc. When you feel these types of symptoms, it’s not going to help you, your coworkers, peers etc. to keep chugging through your work like a maniac. You actually become a bigger burden rather a bigger asset. You also might stop actually caring about what you’re doing because you’re so exhausted — that numb feeling sound familiar? Well, it’s time to change that, or at least, stay ahead of it.
Keep reading for some of the tips I currently use to nix burnout and help re-center my mind to achieve optimal productivity and happiness!
1. B R E A T H E
It seems so simple, but this is one of the easiest and quickest way to calm your mind and body. Whenever you feel sluggish or tired, especially during that 3pm slump that we all know and love, take five to ten deep breathes — and I’m talking DEEP, slow breathes. Feel the tension and exhaustion float away from your neck and shoulders or anywhere else where you hold stress. Taking a minute or two to yourself can help re-center your mind so you can make more calm, collected, and energized decisions.
2. TAKE A WALK
Getting stir-crazy? Take a deep breathe, step away from your computer and go for a quick walk if you —even if its to the bathroom or kitchen. This is all about being more mindful of your body and actions because if you do keep working through burnout, you’ll likely become less productive and more tired, not to mention more aggravated and stressed out.
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We all have heard our doctors and parents tout that we need to drink eight solid ounces of water everyday. It’s scientifically proven that dehydration causes headaches and muscle aches which then in turn causes you to become cranky, unhappy, and, yup you guessed it, burnt out. Staying hydrated can also lead to better overall cognition, to help power through your workday. Try to keep a water bottle with you at work and at home so you don’t have to bring it back and forth and you can always count on it to be there. Shop my fave eco-friendly, glass water bottle brand, bkr, below!
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4. CREATE A HAPPY WORKPLACE
Who wants to work in a boring, stark white cubical with no flair what-so-ever? Not this girl, I’ll tell you that right now. “Nesting” your office space is a great way to fuel more productivity and create a happy work environment that you actually want to spend your day at. There’s a reason that super successful companies (hey Google and Facebook) have over-the-top campuses that motivate people to work longer hours. Start by making it personal, filling it with things you love from your life at home like photos, artwork. Now, don’t go too crazy because you don’t want to over-clutter. Next, buy up some stylish storage because a neat and tidy desk is a happy desk! Lastly, green is good. Bring in some plant life to ground yourself and create a zen, soothing atmosphere. Check out some cute, conscious office supplies to take your work space to the next level.
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If you have the time, hang out and meditate in a breakout room at work or at your desk. If you’re a little embarrassed about tackling this along, chat with your coworkers about it! You could even create a little meditation group with them so you can all motivate each other to take a break mid-day when the sensation of over-taxation is creeping in, but you feel awkward stepping away from your work. There are also plenty of meditations that you can do with your eyes open and at your desk, like this 5 minute meditation that you can slyly pull up on your computer or phone.
Recently, I’ve been reading The White Hot Truth (think the Chelsea Handler of the spiritual world) and Author, Danielle LaPorte, goes on a small rant about prioritizing — in particularly our never-ending to-do lists. She called them directions to the Promised Land (ha!), but seriously, we all get the thrill of crossing something off our to-do list like some sick addiction. “I looked at my Listus Maximus and through, with all this psychotherapy, and reiki, and yoga, I barely have time for myself…” When we have these overwhelming to-do lists it stimulates anxiety and a feeling of failure if we don’t cross everything off (which, lets be real, is a regular occurrence). Now, I’m not telling you to stop writing your to-do lists, because at least for me, these are truly the foundation for my organizational success and, well, my entire life. I’m suggesting your simply be kinder to yourself and be more realistic when putting this pressure on yourself. Prioritize the most important three things at the top that are 100% achievable so you can accomplish your “entire” to-do list in a day. I feel like the queen of the world when I do this. “Damn right, I just ruled that day.”
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7. USE THE MAGIC WORD…
No, I’m not talking about your “please” and “thank you’s.” The special word I’m talking about is “no!” It’s okay to be selfish during times where you are feeling overloaded and tired. It is out of respect for your friends, family, and co-workers (or whoever you’re making plans with) to say no when you are not going to be fully present and having a good time — nobody wants to hang out with a tired, grumpy person. Make a weekly goal for how much time you want to have to yourself in order to feel organized, rested, and grounded — which in turn prevents burnout and promotes happiness and productivity. For example, I try to have 2-3 nights per week to myself — whether that’s to write, workout, sleep, etc. Even if it’s a glass of vino to wind down after a long day — just do you! It’s common to feel guilty or have FOMO (fear or missing out) for not going to a certain event, but most of the time, your friends will completely understand! If they don’t, you should probably reevaluate your friendship and if they have your best interest in mind.