THE Creativity Chronicles
This week’s blog post was supposed to be about the importance of blogging. But that is now having to wait as I decided to write about burnout instead and the ten things that are helping me get through it.
I’m not a wellness expert or a mental health practitioner, but I’m currently experiencing burnout and stress personally and wanted to write something from the centre of the experience about the things that have helped.
None of it is groundbreaking, I’m pretty sure you will have heard it all before but I can hand on my heart say that these ten things are what’s making the difference for me. If you’re experiencing overwhelm or drowning in the workload, these things truly will make a difference, it’s always the small things.
Being at the beach alone is pretty powerful but getting in the water takes it to a whole new level. There is something about freezing cold water which stops you being able to worry about anything else. I always feel a little lighter when I leave the ocean.
It’s hard to see friends right now with the pandemic and I think that’s probably adding to the problem – speaking on the phone isn’t quite the same. This weekend I met a friend at the beach and we went for a dog walk. It was just the tonic. Getting outside AND seeing a friend? Two benefits at the same time.
My old trusty, it never fails. I might not be able to fix everything but writing it down lightens the load. I am slowly processing it all and coming up with creative solutions, tuning in and trusting my instinct. Journaling is my therapy.
Sounds simple right? But when I got stuck in the fog of overwhelm, showers were one of the things I began to reduce (insane logic but I felt like I was saving time). Now I show up for my shower religiously (it helps that I’m sea swimming so much). Time in the shower is a real meditative experience for me. I almost always shower in the dark, I use products that I adore that are uplifting and invigorating and I often eat chocolate in the shower (a friend recently bought me some incredible white chocolate which I had never tried in the shower before). In the shower I feel really present, my senses are alive and I have no emails/phone which is the perfect disconnect.
I’ve also been enjoying actual meditation. I’m not very good at meditation because I’m a little bit manic and always have a narrative running through my head and a never-ending ‘to do’ list. So I need to have a guided meditation but it has helped me so much when it comes to rest and recuperation. I try to do 20 minutes a day and I would say it’s been game changing.
A funny one, planning. Not something I would usually associate with self-care. But even though I naturally plan everything anyway, my diary and to do list was becoming all consuming and was making me sick. Now I keep it much more manageable and I plan things holistically – this means making time for sea swims and space for myself – not just planning my projects but scheduling rest.
Ah, boundaries. It had to be done – letting clients go and having some tough conversations. I had to stop saying yes. I want to help everybody, everyone has a pressing deadline or something they just need me to cast my eye over. But I get 15 messages like this every single day, not to mention the never-ending job enquiries. I know, I’m lucky, right? But I’ve not had time off since last Christmas and I know now that I need to say no. Saying no is hard – I hate to let people down. But in all honesty, I let myself down because I didn’t have firmer boundaries in place. And you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Which brings me to the next boundary – taking set time offline. It’s easy when your work is online like mine is to constantly be on social media or replying to emails. But I know now, time offline is so essential for wellbeing. Therefore I’ve gone back to scheduled times to check and respond rather than being in the app all the time or responding to emails immediately. People can wait, they aren’t needing me urgently. Creating space around digital access makes everything more memorable. Switching off is essential.
Exercise is obviously a no-brainer. For me this means running again (first time in over 4 months) and longer dog walks. Getting off the beaten track and not trying to multi-task by replying to client phone calls during the dog walk, but actually being present and part of the pack.
Something I’m notoriously bad at. I purposefully push myself, staying up until all hours to “get more done”. I know I’m not productive at midnight and also, once the workload became 12 hours+ a day (around children which is a full time job in itself), I realised something had to give and that sleep might be the most productive thing to do. I’m not there yet – I would say I slip up on the sleep side of things around 40% of the time but I’m trying and consciously improving, and that’s progress.
Have you experienced burnout? Is there anything you would recommend? I’m also listening to music (completely changes my mood), pro-actively participating in a lunar practice, trying to read more (non work) which I love and lighting scented candle/burning essential oils for relaxation. I’ve learned some big lessons this year that I plan to take with me for the future – here is to a healthier, happier 2021.