Self Care

Completely Burned Out

Have you ever heard those stories of people at the turn of the century being hospitalized for exhaustion? They were either admitted to the hospital for several days or weeks to rest, or sent to a retreat resort in an idealistic mountain setting and are told to rest and recover.

Exhaustion. It has happened to me for the past two years at the same time of the year. I hit a wall. Hard. I have nothing left to give. I’m done. And my business screams to a halt. But the year isn’t over. I still have clients. I still have projects. And the to-do list keeps getting longer and longer. So now I’m exhausted and anxious.

I am sick. It hurts to move. I feel nauseous. No amount of rest seems to help. I am completely and totally burned out. I want to be sent to the resort in the mountains to recover. What exactly is the insurance billing code for “Exhaustion?” Does Blue Cross Blue Shield cover this?

Has this ever happened to you?

This year instead of just suffering through it alone and feeling sorry for myself, I reached out to my community of friends to get their advice. I just want to say that my peeps are amazing. Sure, my Facebook friends and Instagram followers Like and love the pics of my kids, the silly cat memes, pictures of my dog and some of the other fluff I put on my social media outlets. But when it comes to the really serious stuff – you know, when you really need help and advice – these people come out of the woodwork to offer support and advise. I feel truly blessed to have such amazing people in my life.

Here are a few of the tips they shared for recharging your soul:

  1. icon-hikeGo take a hike. As in literally get up, put on your walking shoes, and head outside to take a walk. Exercise helps work off loads of stress and negativity. I swear sometimes I can feel the stress flowing out of my fingertips. And stepping away from your work, even just for 30 minutes to an hour – can help you refocus and get clear.
  2. Check what you’re eating. Healthy foods recharge your mind and body. I know when I get really busy, I start eating out more which means bigger portions, more queso and chips, and dessert with every meal – things I wouldn’t normally make myself for dinner if I cooked at home. When I take the time to cook healthy meals at home I have better control over what goes in to my body. (Sadly, that means less queso.)
  3. Go green. Green juice helps clear out the toxins that have been building up due to stress.
  4. Take time for yourself. If all you do is give, you never have a chance to take care of your self. This could include a walk (see #1 above), a pedicure, going to the movies by yourself in the middle of the day, visiting an art show or museum. Do something that you like to do, just for you. And make it part of your regular routine.
  5. icon-meditateMeditate. I’ll admit I’m not good at this one. But even if you’re not a Buddist meditation master, you can set aside time each day to just sit and breath. Clear your mind, concentrate on breathing in and then breath out the stress.
  6. Wine and dine. Catching up with your friends can be a great way to recharge, and what better way than over dinner and a glass of something yummy. I know when I am at my busiest, I tend to isolate myself because I’m trying to get it all done. Look up, pick up the phone, and arrange a night out.
  7. Stretch yourself. Do something outside of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s something you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t yet. Maybe it’s something that scares you, but you know it wouldn’t hurt you. We have an indoor skydiving company here in ATX. I sat by and watched my kids do it. Scares the hell out of me, but I think me and the hubbster are going to take it on for our next date night.
  8. icon-strawberryChocolate and music. I love both. And together they are even better. Both help soothe and satisfy an aching soul. Crank up the tunes, bust out the extra dark organic chocolate and savor the moments. Ahhhh, that feels good.

 

Thanks to advise and input from friends and the support of my family, I’m almost back to 100% full steam ahead. But this time I’ve tried to put some safety nets in place to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I’m learning to ask for help instead of just doing everything myself. I’m learning to watch for the signs that lead to my becoming exhausted, so that I can take action before I hit the wall. Only time will tell if these things will help. Guess we’ll know about this time next year.

Have you ever burned out? What steps did you take to recover? Please share your thoughts below in the comments.

Confessions of a Serial Killer

I am a serial killer.

I go out and try to kill it in my business every single day. I pride myself on being available for my clients. I provide them when high quality designs, quality programming. I use my 20 years of marketing experience to find ways to help clients grow their business through their websites and social media. I create engaging print materials to help my clients express themselves with a consistent message and brand across all their marketing platforms. I’ve even been known to spend 1.5 hours on the phone doing email tech support. I am not an email tech support person. But I do it because I want my clients to have the best possible customer service that I can provide to them. I kill it at customer service!

I am a serial killer.

MinecraftI try show up and be present every day for my family. I rouse kids out of bed. I make breakfast. I clean the kitchen, straighten up the living room, and sort through school papers too numerous to count. I make lunch. I shuttle kids to swimming, soccer, baseball, golf, lacrosse practice …. whatever is the sport du jour. I drive kids to piano lessons amid complaints of how this is such a waste of their time! And each time I tell them they will thank me some day. I listen to endless stories about MineCraft and Five Nights at Freddy’s with interest and enthusiasm – even though sometimes I think they are speaking a different language. I counsel and guide them on how to better communicate with the neighborhood kids. “You shouldn’t slam the door in the younger kid’s face. Just politely decline his invitation to come outside to play.” I play mediator between brothers who both want to play games on the Xbox at the same time. I take out the trash. I play nurse to scrapes, bruises, growing pains, bloody noses. I make dinner. I clean the kitchen. I grump and growl to get them to take a shower and brush their teeth. I tuck kids into bed.

I am a serial killer.

I try to bring my very best to everything I do and kill it!

But there are some days when I just can’t bring 100% to my work and family. There are some days when you’ve worked a 14 hour day staring at little tiny pieces of code on a computer monitor and all you want to do is curl up on the couch with a glass of wine and decompress. There are days when you wake up and it’s cold outside and you just don’t have the energy – the spark – that you know the day is going to require. There are days when all you want to do is not do anything.

It has taken me a long time to realize and acknowledge that there are days when my best self just isn’t going to be the person that shows up. And, that it is okay to have these days from time to time.

I’ve learned there is a pattern to when these days show up. They show up when work has been particularly busy and stressful – like when I’ve been working nose-to-the-grindstone to get a big project launched. I put all my effort into making sure these projects launch as smoothly as possible, whether that means extra hours behind the computer or on the phone with tech support, or emailing clients at midnight to let them know that the last items have been checked off the list. The project is completed. The project is finished. The stress level is reduced. And the body and mind shut down.

In the past I’ve tried to push through these days. I’ve tried to force myself to work through it knowing there is another project ready for me to work on, another load of laundry to do, more housecleaning that needs to be done, more errands that need to be run, more phone calls to make, new clients to win over. There is never not a to-do list. Ever.

But trying to push through these days is like trying to swim in mud. I takes a lot of effort and you don’t get very far.

 


 

Instead, I embrace them. I celebrate these days. I acknowledge that I am feeling run down and exhausted because I gave my best to my work and my family and know it is time to take care of ME. I know that I need to rest to recover so that I can get back to killing it at full strength in less time that if I just “worked through it.”

 


Moscow Mule

Recently, one such recovery day presented itself. I woke up exhausted mentally and physically. In a five day time span I launched a big website, launched a new business (Soulful Mompreneur), took a short road trip, nursed a sick kid back to health, and celebrated a friend’s birthday with a river party cookout. I rolled over in bed that glorious Sunday morning, looked at my husband and said, “I’m not doing anything today.”  I celebrated by staying in my PJs all day long. I didn’t even put on a bra. I never left the house. I binge watched a show on Netflix. I made & drank Moscow Mules. I relaxed. Every so often my husband would ask, “Hey you wanna go do ______?” And my answer each time was, “No, thank you. I’m taking a day off today.”

My friend Katie celebrates these days a little differently than me. She leaves the family behind and goes on a hike in a remote area or on a little known trail. She takes water and some nibbles. She goes into the woods and takes the time to look, feel and listen. She notices the pattern in the bark. She watches the squirrels play in the tree tops. She stops by a stream and listens to music of the water as is flows past her. She reconnects to nature as a way to reconnect and recharge herself.

Here is my challenge to you. The next time you find yourself run down, disconnected, over tired, over stressed, or whatever state of being you find yourself when you can no longer give your best to your work and your family, take some time just for you. It doesn’t have to be a whole day. Maybe a few hours are enough for you to recharge and take charge again. Always remember that you have to take time to take care of your self. Otherwise, you can’t be there to take care of the other important things in your life.

What do you do to recharge? We invite you to share in the comments below.