Stop Trying To Be The Energizer Bunny!
It is so important to listen to your body to determine what you crave physically, emotionally, and spiritually. However, sometimes we are so “Go! Go! Go!” that we miss the flashing signals indicating it is time to stop, take a step back, and pay attention to what we truly need. When we don't acknowledge these needs, it can wreak havoc on our body: increase our stress levels, impact our sleep, and lead to inflammation and a slew of issues including burnout.
We are being pulled in so many directions – work, family, friends, volunteering – it can become overwhelming. However, it’s strange that we somehow “find the time” to do all of these other things, but can’t “find the time” to take care of ourselves. But I’ve got news for you: the time will never appear unless you make yourself a priority and create the time. If you continuously push yourself to the limit and constantly choose completing tasks over nourishing yourself, you will eventually burn out – and doesn’t that defeat the goal of being more productive?
I get it, trust me. The adrenaline rush you receive from marking off your to-do list provides a sense of accomplishment; and if you are unable to complete every task, you may feel like a failure. In many cases you may also feel guilty for taking time away from these tasks to focus on you. Therefore, you end up working harder and longer, but that means something else has to give – that “thing” is usually yourself.
This topic hits close to home as I recently had my own burnout experience. As a coach, it is so important to make sure I nourish my body and mind so that I can be at my best for my clients and everyone else in my life. Due to some recent personal challenges, I was being pulled in various directions and did not realize the toll it was taking on me. Yes, I was still making the time to go to the gym, but it took more of an effort to do so due to a lack of energy. Yes, I was eating a primarily whole-foods based diet, but my cravings increased. I was extremely stressed, sleeping poorly, breaking out, experiencing a decrease in motivation, and my overall health was suffering.
I hate to admit that I actually felt guilty for thinking of taking a few days off, but hey, I’m human. But I knew the only way I could truly show up for others is if I put myself first. I made the decision to put a halt on major projects so that I could unwind and recharge for a few days – and boy was it beneficial!
Pay attention to where you are right now. Have you been experiencing a lack of energy or increased stress? Have you paused to analyze how you are truly doing? Ask yourself the following questions:
“Each day do I make sure to consider my feelings and needs?”
“Am I on my to-do list every day?”
“Do I often say yes to others and no to myself?”
“Do I feel guilty when I take time for myself?”
“Have I been continuously going non-stop?”
Chances are at least one of these questions provided an “aha” moment because unfortunately, most of us have been there at some point or another. Now I know you may be thinking, “Talya, I can’t possibly just pause my life and take a vacation now!” I hear you. The good news is there are many things you can do daily to nourish your body and mind, so you can be your best self and avoid burnout.
Create time for you first thing in the morning - Do NOT, I repeat Do NOT check your email right away. Before you begin the daily grind and get caught up with starting your to-do list, carve out time for you. See what works for you whether that be: a walk, exercise, journaling, drinking a cup of tea, or listening to a meditation. Perhaps just start by taking a few long body stretches in your bed.
Do a mental check-in every morning - Ask yourself, “What do I need today to fuel me physically, emotionally, and spiritually?” Then look at your agenda and see where you can add yourself to your “to-do list”.
Set aside time to relax – To help reduce stress, choose a relaxation technique that makes you feel good. Go to a yoga class. Read a good book. Sit in silence. Listen to music. Create a piece of art. Plant flowers. Do some deep breathing. What brings you relaxation and joy?
Stop to fuel your body with whole foods – Take a break to eat a well-balanced fiber-rich meal and be fully present. Rather than scarfing your food in front of the computer, step away from what you are doing, savor the meal, and chew thoroughly.
Breathe Deeply - Slow down your heart rate, and get grounded. Inhale to the count of 4, hold, and exhale to the count of 4. Play around with the length of the inhales and exhales until you find what feels best for you.
Exercise regularly– Carve out time to do some type of movement each day to get the blood flowing, declutter your mind, and recharge. Acknowledge that there are days that it may take a bit to get started, but once you complete your workout you will feel ready to take on the world! Think about your “why” and the motivation to feel energized.
Keep moving – Set reminders to stand, stretch, and move around. This will help clear your head and reenergize you without the coffee.
Set boundaries and ask for help – Don’t overextend yourself—learn to say “no” to others. Repeat this mantra: “I matter. My wants and needs are just as important as anyone else’s. I am allowed to say NO to others and YES to myself.” Ask for help and delegate tasks; you’d be surprised how much help you will get if you just ask for it.
Take off your work hat – Rather than running into the house and immediately starting your evening chores, sit in the car for a few minutes and recalibrate. Listen to a good podcast, get lost in your favorite song, relax with a meditation, or take a few deep, long breaths.
Set a technology cut-off time - Set a time each day when you completely disconnect, unwind, put away your laptop, and turn off your phone.
Make sleep a priority. You need to recover and rejuvenate. Allow yourself to unplug and disconnect for the night. Give yourself full permission to turn off your brain. When you sleep better, you will think more rationally in the morning, you will be more energized, you will make better decisions, and you will be able to respond to situations more calmly.
Tell yourself you have done all you could today – Be kind to yourself and acknowledge all of the positive things you have completed versus focusing on the items you didn’t finish. Trust the universe and know that you are at the exact place where you need to be at this moment in time. Things can wait until tomorrow.
Most important, release the guilt when you choose to take the time for you. Get rid of the thoughts such as, “this is a waste of time, or I should be doing something else that is more productive.” You ARE being productive because you are nourishing your body and mind. Change your mindset from “I don’t have the time for me” to “I will create the time for me.” You do not always need to be running around like the energizer bunny, or your battery will die. I challenge you to reclaim your health and put yourself first. Prioritize the most important thing that matters, YOU!
When you make the time for yourself, you will be more focused, increase your energy, and be more productive – Triple win! So when you face the choice of completing a task that probably can wait versus taking the time for you, I challenge you to choose yourself!