I get it, life can be tiring at times. It seems we live in a society that glorifies being busy and normalizes being overworked, overwhelmed, and burned out!
As a former social worker and psychotherapist, it’s very easy to get caught up in the mundane day-to-day operations of personal and professional duties or obligations. It is super easy to become overly exhausted by our daily duties.
As an empath or helping professional, it’s also very easy to feel compassion fatigue which can also lead to burning out quicker. Burn-out whether at home or work is avoidable if you’re willing to prioritize some self-care, self-love, and self-maintenance. If you’re feeling tired of life, overworked, or overwhelmed here are 4 simple things you can do today!
1. Re-evaluate Your Calendar And Quit Comparing
Being quoted as “booked, busy, and blessed” has become quite the trend. When I work with my healing coaching clients, it’s often difficult for them to recognize when they are overworking themselves. It’s as if any blank time or “free time” on their calendar or schedule MUST be filled or else they feel inadequate, lazy, or under-productive.
I often tell my clients to re-evaluate their schedules. What I realize, from a psychological standpoint, is that there is a level of comparison that occurs for them. They tend to feel as if they are quoted, “keeping up with the Jones” by keeping a generally often filled calendar. They often fear a sense of judgment, shame, blame, or guilt if their calendar isn’t as filled as their neighbors, colleagues, relatives, or friends. Additionally, they feel a sense of unworthiness if they are not meeting the perceived expectations of those around them.
I often tell them to get out of their own heads and get back into what their bodies need. Remember, just like what we think of others is none of other’s business, it’s also none of our business what others think of us!
Letting go of cognitive distortions that show up such as mind-reading what others think of us can be a huge help in re-evaluating their calendars and schedules. Additionally, remembering the quote, “comparison is the thief of joy”, can also support you. Understand that it really doesn’t matter what so and so is doing versus what YOU need to do for YOU! Take a hard look at your calendar and re-evaluate what things are necessary. Reassess your wants versus needs.
I tell my clients (and myself) “you can’t try to put a buffet on a little tapas plate, right? So, why overload your schedule for the purposes of filling in gaps in your schedule with unnecessary tasks, events, and perceived obligations that you seriously don’t need on your plate?” This is literally, self-induced burnout and it will manifest in not only the mental and emotional bodies but also the physical bodies as physical conditions or ailments and cause psychosomatic symptoms when you get too overwhelmed and overworked.
After you’re done reading this, be sure to go re-evaluate your schedule, and most importantly, quit comparing!
2. Set Boundaries And Say No
Part of being able to re-evaluate your calendar means being able to assess your boundary-setting skills. Remember that sometimes, we have to, “say no to good things so we can say yes to greater things.”
When we have difficulty saying no, our schedule gets overfilled with things that are truthfully unnecessary, don’t serve us, are not mutually beneficial, and are things we genuinely don’t want to do.
Releasing any guilt, shame, blame, and /or judgment that shows up from saying “no” and keeping boundaries is key. A coach like myself can help you work and sort through this or you can use what I call “mindful mantras” or positive affirmations such as, “I know my heart and I know my intentions”, to help support and/or release any guilt associated with saying “no” especially with loved ones.
Remember that while setting boundaries is key, it’s also just as important (if not more important) to reinforce your “no” and the boundaries you set- each and every time.
Unfortunately, some people will try to take an arm when we lend our one hand, so it’s very crucial to reiterate your boundaries and keep saying no every single time!
We truly do teach people how to treat us. If you’re setting boundaries and not reinforcing them or going against your own word, you are literally teaching people that your word is not your bond. It’s similar to seeing the kid in the grocery store with the parent who sets boundaries stating they are not going to get any candy near the check out line, then the kid has a tantrum, and out of fear of judgment from others or guilt, the caregiver gives in and goes against the boundary they initially set. That caregiver just taught that child that when they say “no” there are loopholes. This kid now learns that “no” doesn’t really mean no.
Remember, the only people who become upset about the boundaries you set or when you say no are the people who directly benefit from you not having a boundary in the first place! Setting boundaries and being able to practice saying no is going to be crucial in avoiding burnout in life: whether at work or at home.
3. Schedule Self-Care, Self-Love And Self-Maintenance
When we are overwhelmed, overworked, and on the verge of burning out, we need to stop and not only re-assess what we are putting on our schedule. Also, stop and assess how much self-care, self-love, and self-maintenance we actually have carved into our routine.
If you have ever been on airplanes, the flight attendants always advise you to put on your oxygen mask, in case of an emergency, before you help someone else with theirs. I tell this to my clients and remind them they can’t pour from empty cups.
With that said, what do you actually have on your schedule that is in fact filling up your cup and serving you before you serve others? Do you have a morning routine or a night routine dedicated to you? What are you doing daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly to tailor to self-care, self-love, and self-maintenance? You can’t just schedule a nail salon or hair appointment and think that alone is self-care — that’s actually self-maintenance of the physical vessel.
What are you doing to self-care for all 4 bodies: mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically? Self-care can be choosing to take a mental health day or spiritual health day and take yourself to the beach; while self-maintenance can be scheduling a manicure or a pedicure; and self-love could be scheduling time to be compassionate with yourself, practice positive affirmation, scheduling a good shower cry, or a yoga session for yourself where you literally hug and kiss yourself in the last pose-savasana.
I usually challenge my clients to look at their calendars seasonally and book self-care, self-love, and self-maintenance in advance throughout the year while also scheduling days where you literally do nothing.
The “do nothing” days have to be treated like appointments. If your boss asks you to take on another project that requires off-work hours, or if a friend invites you last minute to and event, you really have to say no because on your calendar, you made a commitment to yourself to do nothing. You must treat that appointment like a literal obligation you can’t miss or flak out on.
While you’re taking a look at your schedule, be sure to not only carve in self-care, self-love, or self-maintenance; but in addition to this, be sure to carve out “do nothing” days. This will help to alleviate some burnout and the long-term effects such as exacerbations of mental health including depression, anxiety, or relying on substances to cope.
4. Sensory Deprivation
In today’s society, we are on sensory overload. We sit with devices on all day long. We overconsume things via our sight and sound.
When we are feeling overwhelmed or burned out, somatic work, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance techniques such as mindfulness-based stressed reduction practices, breathwork, social media and digital detoxes, and literal derivation of the senses can be very helpful to calm the onset of burn-out.
Sensory Deprivation Tank Therapy
Over the years, there has been an increase in wellness studios with sensory deprivation services such as float therapy tanks that can help to support stress relief. Float tank therapy is a small tank or open pool of water with Epsom salt, which is also known to having healing properties and health benefits. The Epsom salt in the water creates buoyancy, so no worries about sinking. The idea is to place the body in sensory deprivation mode while floating in the water.
Some sensory deprivation or float tanks offer blue led lighting, soothing sounds, and dim lighting to help support the decrease of external stimuli versus full sensory deprivation. The goal is to be able to ween off the use of the over compounded senses such as the 5 senses of feeling/touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight. While decreasing sight and sound is optional, it is very beneficial for the body to alleviate or decrease external stimuli.
Grounding Sensory Deprivation Technique
If you’re not open to trying float tank therapy, grounding sensory deprivation technique is another technique I would recommend in times of overwhelming feelings related to burn-out.
Here’s how to do it:
- Sit quietly.
- Ground down the 4 corners of your feet into mother earth or the floor beneath you.
- Take some slow deep breaths.
- Place one hand to heart and one hand to belly, and breathe. As you inhale and exhale, notice your natural normal breath and the rhythm of the rise and fall of your belly and your chest.
- Tune into the present moment by inviting your energy to be here and now. Invite your energy and thoughts to be here and away from what you have to do after this and away from what you were doing before this.
- Scan your 5 senses. What do you hear, smell, see, taste, and how do you feel?
- Now take the palms of your hands and slowly and place them over your ears to decrease the use of the sense of hearing audibly while still focusing on your breath.
- Allow yourself to sit here for a few slow breaths.
- Now, take the palms of your hands and gently put them over your eyes without apply pressure to the eyelids, and allow your eyes the chance to pause and rest as you sit here for a few moments.
- Continue to notice the rise and fall of your belly and chest with each inhale and exhale.
Do this as many times as you need to throughout the day. If you feel comfortable try this activity in a quiet dark safe space for a few breaths or minutes. Feel free to set a timer.
If you’re truly feeling tired of life, I highly recommend consulting with your primary care doctor and/or seeking support from a mental health professional to help you navigate life.
As always, I am here and here!
Featured photo credit: whoislimos via unsplash.com