Updated: Mar 26
Y'all. Is it just me, or have the first three months of this year been moving in slow motion?
Some days, honestly, most days, it takes all my energy to get myself out of bed and the house up and running. While I am fortunate enough to have been working from home [even before the pandemic], there never seems like there are enough hours in the day to finish everything... or to get enough hours of sleep to allow me to feel well-rested.
This feeling isn't new. Not to me, and probably not to you either.
This is what we call burnout.
When you google 'burnout', many results return. Most of them are related to work. Something I found interesting was the related google searches that came up:
Is burnout a mental illness?
What are the signs of a mental breakdown?
How do you deal with emotional burnout?
What are the first signs of going crazy?
Not gonna lie-- this breaks my heart. The fact that people are googling answers to these questions means it's a conversation they aren't having with the people in their real life.
So let's go ahead, and talk about it here.
What is self-care?
Self-care is exactly what it sounds like; caring for one's self.
Yeah, Holly, I get that, but what does that mean exactly?
It means taking care of your emotional, mental, and physical health.
Self-care means taking time to celebrate wins but also making space to sit with hard times too.
It doesn't mean you rush through life constantly chasing the next thing. It's important to live into your purpose, but there is a price you pay for neglecting yourself.
Self-care means reaching out if you're struggling. If you're not feeling like yourself and the things that normally bring you joy aren't, talk to someone about it.
It doesn't mean convincing yourself by pushing through things will magically get better.
Things can [and will] get better. Asking for help doesn't make you weak.
Self-care means honoring your body with movement.
It doesn't mean you have to work out hard every single day. This is not about weight loss. Start simple with stretching or a walk. Do what feels good. Exercise is not a punishment.
Why should we engage in self-care?
Before, I mentioned that slow motion, moving through molasses, permanently exhausted pigeon feeling [this is between a morning bird and a night owl]. To stop this feeling from becoming your normal, you need to be practice self-care daily.
Failing to do so will lead you down the road that ends in burnout. How do I know this?
Because I've lived it. Ready for a quick storytime?
Spring of 2009. I took a [temporary] 3rd shift job reorganizing a craft store to pay off my credit card debt while working my regular job and going to school full-time. What actually happened? I didn't pay off any credit cards, instead, I actually increased some balances [thank you 2 a.m. hanger], didn't do as well at my [commissioned] regular job, and slacked off in school.
Fall semester of 2012. I stepped up to a full-time [sales/commissioned] job, balanced being a brand new Mom [to a daughter born in July], and barely squeaked by completing a Bachelor's in Psychology in December.
Summer and Fall of 2014. I [reluctantly] agreed to work 50+ hours at my banking job and become a small business advocate. I felt like I had to prove my worth and show my commitment because I was pregnant with my second daughter then, and nothing was going to slow me down.
Almost all of 2019. Mom was diagnosed with stage IV cancer, and we almost lost her. I mean like she was on and off a ventilator for about 6 weeks consecutively. Of course, I agreed to take on an interim extra responsibility at work because it gave me something else to worry about. Something else to keep my mind from staying in a dark place too long. Ps. Mom is in remission.
The year of which we do not speak [aka 2020]. Well, is there really any other explanation needed?
If you've ever doubted the reality of burnout before, all you have to do is look back on how this last year treated you.
How was your energy?
How was your self-talk?
How was your mood?
How was your mental health?
Most importantly, how can you safeguard your energy, improve your self-talk and mood, and protect your mental health?
By regularly practicing self-care.
How can we engage in self-care?
This is going to look a little different for everyone.
What brings me joy and relaxation might not do the same for you. So I strongly encourage you to take a moment to look inward and [re] discover what you enjoy.
Writing helps me. When I feel like there is so much jumbling around in my mind, it helps me to put it down on paper and just get it out. That's partly how my poetry book came to be.
But you don't have to write a book or a blog for writing to be a form of self-care.
Give journaling a try. Write for yourself. Write about hard things and frustrations.
Write to someone you're angry with or something out of your control.
Write about your goals, hopes, and dreams. Write a stream of consciousness.
Wherever your mind goes, let it wander. Write it all down, and then let it go.
Try sitting in calm.
You can meditate. You can sit quietly without expectation.
I like to listen to Pandora and shuffle through my favorite artist and get lost in their words.
However, is comfortable for you, whatever enables you to relax, go for it.
This is time for you and you alone.
There is no right way for you to practice self-care. What is important is to remember that self-care isn't a quick fix. It will not serve you well or be as effective if you only engage in it when you're faced with a hard season.
To avoid burnout, make self-care non-negotiable. There is so much truth in the age-old saying--
You cannot pour from an empty cup.
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