Burnout, Meltdowns & How to Avoid Them
A couple of weeks ago I experienced what some would call burnout. I will just simply say I crashed. I reached a point where I literally could not move. It took every ounce of energy in me just to walk to the bathroom. I thought to myself, how in the world did I get here? I am constantly preaching to my clients about making time for self-care and getting your rest, and eating well. And, here I am so run down that I literally can’t even get up out of the bed?!
So, a number of things happened. I moved for the umpteenth time in the last year and a half. And I kept going like the most stressful thing wasn’t going on behind the scenes. I took no time off from work, at all. I was literally unpacking between client calls. And then I added two, no, wait, THREE gigs to my plate (not business related) the very next week, all of which did not allow me to take my normal time off during the week. In fact, fulfilling those commitments actually forced me to get little sleep during the week.
And I kept going. Because I can do this. But along the way I forgot to take my vitamins. So, consequently…fatigue set in, then my iron dropped super low and BAM! I crashed.
I had a complete, embarrassing meltdown and was encouraged to take a week off. In my mind I was like, a week? Like 7 whole days? Yes…a week. And, I did it.
I will admit, I did do some work during those 7 days. Actually I got a lot of stuff done! But, I did it all from my bed. And, I forced myself to stick to a schedule that included LOTS of sleep. I also completely disconnected from my phone and social media. Do Not Disturb was my very best friend. And it was during my time away that I learned a very valuable lesson.
But before I go into that lesson, I went to an event toward the end of my week off. I know, I probably wasn’t supposed to be there but, go with me here. During this event, the presenter mentioned something about time scarcity. How when we’re not intentional with our time, and not planning ahead, we find ourselves in this time scarcity. We’re constantly feeling like we never have enough time. We’re always running low on time. We’re always running out of time.
And I thought…OMG…energy scarcity. I’ve been experiencing energy scarcity! I’m constantly feeling like I never have enough energy. I’m always running low on energy. I’m always running out of energy.
How does this happen?
So, consider this analogy. When someone spends more money than they have coming in, it’s usually because they’re not aware of how much they’re spending. They have no budget. Or, they greatly underestimate how much things are going to cost when they do budget. And so, there’s always a scarcity of money. They’re always in lack.
It’s the same thing with our energy. We may consider how much time something is going to take…but do we consider the energy that it’s going to take? (click to tweet!)
I once scheduled myself to do something the day after I got back from a trip home to Chicago. Of course, I regretted it. I asked my mom, “why in the world did I schedule myself to do this the day after my trip?”. She said, “Because you had tons of energy when you were scheduling it.”
We sign up for things, and say yes to things, and start new things, all while we have tons of energy to do them. But when the time comes to do what we said we would, we’re like…why’d I do this to myself?
So now, back to my lesson…
I learned that I have to be even more vigilant when it comes to maintaining my energy. I now am not just asking myself, do I have enough time to commit to this? I’m also asking, do I have enough energy to commit to this? Is this a good investment of my energy? Do I have the time it takes to restore my energy after fulfilling this commitment? Do I have the time it takes to build up my energy BEFORE fulfilling this commitment?
Asking these questions now changes the game. It’s more realistic. And, it’s more loving and respectful of myself. I can take care of myself better. I can give myself what I need to be my best self.
But, this also requires being clear about what you need to maintain and restore your energy. What are the things you need on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis to keep your energy high? (click to tweet!)
For me this means:
-quiet, alone time during the day
-daily prayer and meditation
-a day off every week
-sleep by midnight
-absolutely NO WORK OF ANY KIND after 10p
-eating healthy meals everyday
-drinking plenty of water
-allowing 3-4 hours between meals
-eating no later than 9p
If I’m going to commit to something, I look to see if I have enough time to fulfill that commitment AND I look to see if I’m able to give myself what I need energy-wise. If that means I have to plan time to prepare my meals for that day, or take some time off, etc., then I do that. If giving myself what I need isn’t possible, then it’s a NO.
This experience has helped me take work/life balance to a whole other level. I’m feeling much better because of this experience and I’m hoping that by sharing my story, it helps you too.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!