Hot & Bothered: Five Ways to Revive After Burnout
Last week I stepped out of my house and it was 114 degrees Fahrenheit. Getting in my car, I instantly felt the heat zap my energy. My skin was dry, the air was hot, and everything seemed to slow down to snail pace. A sizzling, fried up snail that is.
Roasting in the intractable heat for five days now reminds me a lot of the spell I just came through. I was burnt out and a hot, fiery mess. I maxed out on work stress, completing overtime as I transitioned from a meaningful but burdensome job. We had been stranded out of our home for five months, living out of suitcases and laundry baskets. I yearned to give my full energy to my new dermatology job and also to the growth of Hela Coaching, but my tank was utterly empty. My spirit was edgy and my creativity was non-existent.
Noticing the scorch in the air and the feverish thoughts in my head only made me think more about the temperature, both literally and figuratively. I thought about how cold elements can be refreshing and calming, while warm elements can be comforting and nourishing. I thought about how my body doesn’t tolerate cool shocks well, probably because my hands and feet are always chilly. But I also determined that if I’m going to be in the heat, it needs to feel oily and full, not brittle and astringent. I reflected on my emotions and thought patterns - how I love my fiery attitude. It's my passion that continues to push me forward in business, in spirituality, and in learning. It’s when I lose control of the fire that my physical and emotional health go awry.
I was in that exact state of fiery imbalance when I last connected on Hela Coaching. In April all of the dry parts of me broke. And so I let them. I let them break and dry up, so that I could give the soil of my spirit rest before growing new life again. So if your spirit’s feeling parched, grab a cold drink and read on for five ways to revive after burn out!
1. Pause. After I submitted my guest blog post to Yellow Collective, I exhaled the breath I was holding. Then I just stopped. At first pausing felt like apathy, but as I spent less time frazzling my mood began to smooth out around the edges. In my particular situation, I also needed time and space to grieve my career transition. I told myself I would only put Hela Coaching on pause for a couple weeks, just until I unwound the stress. But two weeks turned to four, then eight. And all of the explosive tension inside my brain had time to simmer down and mellow out.
2. Play. Our trip to Seattle came just in time. For the first time in a year I left my laptop at home while on vacation - no work, no writing, no business planning. Another part of play was simply relaxing at home, without agenda. I specifically spent less time planning anything that wasn’t essential. I let myself take naps. I let myself watch goofy TV shows. I let myself go to bed early and sleep in. I let myself get lost listening to new music. Play doesn’t have to be big, grandiose adventures. It can be the little joys, a change in habits, following the spark inside no matter how deep or shallow the activity is.
3. Nourish. My recent imbalance was emotional but also physical. In an effort to rest, my lack of activity eventually turned to idleness (i.e. Netflix binge during any and all spare time). Rest for me is good. But idleness can breed anxiety. So the minute we moved back into our house, I started planning fun, new meals. I started working yoga and indoor cycling back into my routine. And I opened up a new book. I nourished my body and I nourished my mind. Once I did this, I was in a much better place to step back into commitments.
4. Prioritize. After getting some rest and strengthening my body and mind, I took a deep breath. Suddenly all of my business plans felt daunting and scary. Like, how on earth did I do all of this before? There’s some tenacity and drive involved. But even more planning and prioritizing. So I did just that. I asked myself three simple questions:
- What is the most important task to complete?
- What is the first step in completing that task?
- When can I block off time to work on the first step?
5. Relaunch. The most important part of relaunching back into steady work was improving my confidence. When I first thought about jumping back into business planning and writing, I was totally in my head. I psyched myself out and put it off for two weeks. By that time, I realized the only thing stopping me from jumping back in was myself. So while I nourished, I also dreamed. I dreamed big, reminding myself of the vision for Hela Coaching. Perfection and a seamless business plan weren’t the reasons I started. Adventure, creativity, and sharing the hope of healthy life with others is why I started. Reflecting on vision and values gave me the lighthearted, fun boost to dive in again.
It’s so easy for me to think about periods of burn out followed by periods of rest like a pendulum swing. But this time around I’m keeping my steps against burnout in full rotation. In fact, this blog post comes to you from the beach in Mexico! As I look across the balcony, the wind whistles through vaulted ceilings. I'm tucked into a 240 degree view of the coastline and the bigness of the world makes it feel possible. I’m reminded that my work through Hela Coaching is to sprinkle wellness and peace across the routine of everyday life.