It’s so easy to get lost in our work and the constant flow, the hustle of working.
Setting ourselves targets, striving to achieve them, and deadlines to meet.
Being a workaholic has always been a thing, however – lately it seems like everyone is just working to live.
You spend 35+ hours a week in the job you either love, tolerate or hate.
Where’s the balance?
So many jobs require of us our whole undivided attention, our energy, long hours, overtime (most of the time unpaid) and busting your ass off for the boss or people above.
Unless of course, you’re self-employed, your own boss or a nomad/entrepreneur.
You make your own rules, working hours, conditions and deadlines.
Either way, it’s still easy to get lost in your work and forget about having fun, relaxing, switching off for a bit.
I know for a fact, that I work better and feel more myself when I’ve had a short break from working.
3 days is a minimum to feel completely anew, to recharge my batteries. Normally that involved spending time in nature, being away in a totally new environment and forgetting that my desk even exists.
How do you prioritise and make time for a rest to avoid burnout? and When do you know you’re sinking into that burnout hole?
Life’s all about balance – work hard, rest hard.
Finding the Time to Reset
I’ve been there – completely wrapped in my to-do list, which seemed to be just growing each day.
Even though I was ticking things off of it, I was adding more to it, so it felt like I wasn’t making any progress because it was constantly full of things I had to accomplish.
I often get so busy, filling every free/spare minute with a bit of writing, or a bit of research, because I’m constantly so desperate to make everything work, forgetting about my own mental health, resting and having fun.
I then end up cranky, stressed and burnt out.
Finding the time to rest, to have fun can find its way to the bottom of your to-do list, when in actual fact it should be built into a daily routine.
How do you find the time?
When you have a million things to do in a day, you get up early to make it all work, and the day doesn’t seem long enough for the things you have to do, and that’s without adding the fun/rest part into it.
The problem lies within this new culture of glamourising burn-out, being over-the-top busy.
Working day, night and weekend is the new hardcore. The new norm, and standard…
Stress and overworking has become a culture that’s glamorised on social media, on films and seems that it’s the only way to reach success.
Although that is the image that we see on the tv, social media and real-life, working hard and ignoring your body’s signs of stress, anxiety and tiredness, are not values to aim for.
Something I read recently really stuck with me and made me click:
Work smart to be successful, not hard.
Prioritise, make the right decisions, take time to breathe, re-focus, re-adjust. Use resources available to you, ask for help, take time to think.
We have accepted that to be seen as successful, we have to be running around like maniacs, filling every spare minute with work, working long hours, skipping our lunch break, to feel and look successful.
How does that actually make us feel though?
I don’t feel any more successful when I’m close to breaking point or like I’m about to have a meltdown.
Too much stress and work makes me cranky, tired, stressed.
Then, even the smallest little jobs feel overwhelming, too much, a real struggle and how the hell am I going to fit that into my schedule when it’s already so full?!
I remember watching the Devil Wears Prada, and Andy completely over-working herself to death, constantly plugged into her phone, thinking about work, running around not able to even leave the desk for a toilet break.
I also remember thinking – what a cool job!
Forgetting that Andy was probably on the verge of a panic attack, completely overwhelmed and burnt-out.
An an empath, I know now that this kind of lifestyle isn’t for me and I need balance, a rest, for my mind and body to recharge.
I’ve been in a job that required me to work long hours, evenings, early mornings, just to meet the deadline.
I remember feeling stressed and anxious like never before. My mental health really struggled, I had no time for myself, even though I was working from home.
It was a lifestyle I saw as glamourised and thought, I wanted.
In reality, I was angry, tired, stressed, frustrated and without the time to reset, I would take it out on people closest to me.
I turned to food and alcohol for comfort, drinking my weekends away to take work off my mind, recovering all day Sunday and getting that overwhelming feeling and dreading another week of work, every Sunday night.
Which would normally include tears.
You may relate to some of the above (let me know in the comments if you do) so how do you find the time to break? To rest?
How do you recharge your batteries, or better yet – find the balls to turn your life around for a happier one.
It took me a while to realise what I had to do. Having been in that position, here are my 6 tips for balancing your work-life structure:
That’s right, just stop.
Sit in silence, for a whole afternoon after work. Or in a park, or anywhere you can find some peace and quiet.
Try looking at your life from a different perspective, through somebody else’s eyes.
Forget your routine for one day, hell – if you need to take a sick day.
In this quiet, stop time, analyse the quality of your life.
Are you getting enough sleep/rest?
Are you making the time to eat well?
What’s making you stressed?
What do you need to do to not feel so overwhelmed or burnt out?
Are you making the time to have fun?
Do you live and wait for Friday to arrive to have a glass or bottle of wine, jam-pack your weekend full of activities because you have to keep going, keep moving?
I recommend you meditate, because the best of realisations come to us when we’re quiet, and don’t think about anything at all.
During your stop time, try and be still without feeling the need to get up and send an email.
Analyse the quality of your life, and whether you’re treating yourself fair.
Is this the life you’ll be happy to look back on when you’re old and wise?
What would the old and wise you 20/30 years from now tell you?
Write down your thoughts. You don’t need to prepare anything for it, not even a topic or what you’re going to write.
Simply think about the quality of your life, the life-work balance, and write anything that comes to your mind.
I find that some hard truths come out when I’m journaling and I come to serious realisations about how I’ve been treating myself and where I’ve been sort of, blind.
It’s a good way to wake up out of your auto-pilot mode.
If burnout and overworking is affecting your mental health, exercise will be your best friend. You’ve probably heard it before but this time, make you you do something about it.
An overworked brain affects the body and soul, which means you can’t function properly.
If you can’t function, that means only a part of you is present, only a part of you is conscious and able to do the job.
Movement boosts our happy hormones, releases stress and provides a great reset button for our mind, body and soul.
If all 3 are balanced you’ll feel a lot more energised and refreshed.
4. Make Time for Fun
This is a big one.
I know you have a million things to do in the day or week, but you have to prioritise your own happiness and mental health.
Your job and success aren’t being completely jeopardised or thrown away the moment you go out and do something fun.
You shouldn’t feel guilty for making time for fun either.
You are simply prioritising yourself, not your job, to feel better and as a result, work better.
Take the afternoon off and go and do something you’ve been dreaming of doing for a while or haven’t done in ages.
Trip to the sea, camping for a weekend, rock climbing, a meal at a new restaurant, whatever fun means to you.
5. Analyse Your Choices
This could be a life-changing step.
Be honest: Do you like your job? Do you enjoy what you do every day?
If not, what don’t you like about it?
What would make your life or job better?
Would you be happier making your own rules and being your own boss?
Do you feel valued at work?
Is your work appreciated?
If your friend was always skipping their lunch break and prioritising workloads – what would you tell them?
You might say:
“you need to think about your own happiness before anything else! A lunch break is there for a reason, for you to step away from that screen, nourish your body with food and reset your mind, you’re not even getting paid for that lunch break!
And if you feel the need to work through lunch because your workloads are crazy, then you should speak to your boss about your responsibilities and how much you do, or change your job if she/he is being a dick about it. They shouldn’t expect you to work during your break.”
You’d give your friend good advice because you care about them. You need to give yourself that same advice, you’re important and cared for.
What’s led you to this job now? Could you easily change it?
Do you know enough about the industry to go and create your own business?
Does your job interfere with your own, personal plans? Like starting a family, or making the move to the country etc?
It’s time to reassess your choices, decisions and routines because life is just too damn short to stress, burn out and be unappreciated.
Does your boss know your struggles and how stressed, burnt out you are?
Probably not… So who are you working so hard for?
6. Take Time Off
If you need more time to analyse your life and be still/quiet, take time off work.
1-2 weeks, change your environment and completely switch off. Switch your phone off for a few days if you can spend time in nature, walking and maybe even go abroad or check local attractions near you on TripAdvisor.
Spend some time just with yourself or your loved one, move yourself away from your everyday environment.
This will help to clear your head, give you time and the space to think and re-evaluate your life, choices, routines, and what you need to change (if anything).
Time and space to think can be life-changing, allowing you to reevaluate what actually matters, where we put our time and effort and what makes us happy, stressed.
It puts work in such a small picture when you look at life overall and what really matters to you.
The same thing happened to me, when I was on furlough for 3 months, I had an awakening and completely adjusted my priorities and now I know exactly what makes me happy, what I need to do to stay focused and how to stay true to myself, and not get lost in my work.
Let me know in comments below how burnout has affected you and any realisations, remedies you have come to…