Sunday, February 5, 2017

Self-Care Sunday: How I Beat Burnout

January was a challenge for me, and while I loved it, I did find it to be ... well, exhausting. On the eleventh, I talked about the Pomodoro Technique and how it works for me in an average workday as an author, but what I didn't confess to is that life as a blogger is different - at least, for me. When I'm focused on a book (which I promise I will be this month), the Pomodoro post linked above is an example of what a successful novel-writing day looks like - but I'm not only a novelist.

I'm a blogger too, and that means taking breaks from novel writing to build and create content for this site, as well as maintaining my social media presences around the internet - but I'm not only a blogger, either.

More importantly than anything else, I'm a mom, and while my kids are the biggest blessings of my entire life, they're a lot of work, too. Motherhood in itself is a job, with constant demands, high pressure, and - sometimes - very little return on investment.

Generally, I like to think I'm pretty good at balancing the demands of my various careers, and I can definitely say that doing what I do (despite my issues in my struggle to maintain mental wellness) from home makes things a lot easier than they otherwise would be, but while working at home definitely has its benefits, I'm willing to admit that it also has its drawbacks.

It's a fragile sort of lifestyle, and it all gets unbalanced so easily. It gets hard to do it everything myself, hard to keep everything going - and growing - in a way that I can keep believing in, especially on the days when no one seems to believe in me. I get tired and beaten down, I push myself too hard to prove myself. I get burned out. I lose focus - or faith.

Somedays I have just regular normal problems - worrying about finances and career choices, worrying about whether I'm doing right by my kids as their mother, worrying about my own health and mental wellness, worrying about how long until my van needs another oil change.

Other days, it's worse. On those days, I feel like I'm failing at motherhood because one of my kids is in trouble or sick or being a brat. I feel like I'm failing at adulthood because my income isn't what most people would call "successful," and because my career, while very fulfilling, is still based on a dream I'm not sure will ever come to fruition. I feel like I've failed as a daughter because my father and I are estranged, and because I still can't take care of my mother (who is in very ill health) the way I would like to. I feel like a failure as a person because I mess up just like everyone else, and I let my self-discipline slide - or I'm simply too exhausted or depressed to maintain it - and then my whole life gets out of whack.

Sometimes I need to take a break. Sometimes I just need a little extra self-care. Because I know we say this all the time, but in life, it really is the little things that make all the difference - it's too many early mornings, too many late nights, too many skipped lunch breaks. It's not enough rest, not enough fun, not enough downtime. Not enough faith.

It's burnout. And I know it's best to maintain a balance that prevents burnout, but it can't always be prevented - so when it hits me, here's how I beat it.


When I don't have a lot of time but I just need a little boost, I keep things simple with a cup of coffee. If I'm in a hurry but I need a little extra indulgence, I'll add a packet of hot chocolate to the cup before brewing my usual coffee - that extra little bit of sweetness makes my regular cup of coffee feel much more indulgent, and it's a way to spoil myself that doesn't take anything extra from the day. But if I suddenly find myself blissfully alone with a few minutes to spare, I'll change things up with a nice strong cup of my new favorite coffee, Folgers Gourmet Selections, in Mocha Swirl. Now and then, I'll step it up another notch - I'll add whipped cream to the top, and sprinkle it with cinnamon so it's pretty. (You may remember seeing one of these self-indulgent, spirit-building brews at the bottom of this post.)

And once it's finished, I'll slip away for just a second and hold that mug in both hands to soak in the warmth. I'll bring it up to my face, inhale the smell of it. I'll take that first sweet, cinnamon-scented sip and I'll sigh over the deep chocolatey taste. And then somehow, if the coffee is right and the baggage isn't too heavy that day, my life will seem to set itself right again, and I can go on.

Sometimes coffee doesn't work though, and I need something ... more.

On those days, if I'm not alone, I let the kids hang out together with video games or a movie for a while, and I retreat to my bed. I spray everything in the room with something comforting, which used to be regular Febreze until just recently, when I fell madly in love with Febreze ONE in Orchid scent. So I spray my room, take a minute to inhale and breathe, and then I curl up in bed with my favorite devices. Depending on my mood, I might watch YouTube or WWE on my phone, surf Pinterest on my tablet, or just read a book on my Kindle. Knowing my kids are in the next room assures me that they're alright entertaining themselves for a while, and taking the time to relax makes me a much better mother when I'm up and running again.

When I am alone and have some time for a full-blown self-care day, I go all out and really indulge myself. I make that special cup of coffee, the one with all the good stuff in it. I stop to really enjoy that first inhalation of the smell of it, take that first delicious sip, and then carry it upstairs. I'll change my phone to a fresh battery, grab my tablet and Kindle, and carry it all into the bathroom, where I run a bath. I'll use my phone to play music (I love the Classical Light station on Slacker Radio!), and I'll read while soaking in a bathtub filled with body wash bubbles that smell like heaven. I'll shave my legs, not because that's particularly rare or luxurious, but because freshly shaved legs feel good. I'll exfoliate. I'll use a hair treatment. I'll take the time for lotion. I'll give myself permission to skip work for a WHOLE DAY, which is rare for me, and I'll make myself go to bed early for some extra rest.

These things feed my soul and bring my spirit back up. They're small indulgences, but when piled one atop the other in this way, they give me fresh hope and renewed energy. They make me more patient, more loving, because they make me less overwhelmed, less world-weary, less troubled.

They beat my burnout - while helping me to nurture the flame of my determination to succeed. Because as I said before, it really is the little things that make all the difference.


Questions For The Comments Section:
  • How do you beat burnout when it hits in your life?
  • We all know an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so what's your favorite way to prevent burnout from hitting in the first place? Do you have one, or do you just try to treat it when it comes, like me?

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64 comments:

  1. Whenever you do your best and everything seems not to be okay, that's the time when I feel burnout and I don't like the feeling. That's why when I feel that I am about to have one, I treat my self to see the things that make me happy and to try something new. I usually go to theme parks in the the Philippines or eat in food parks.

    To know more of the things that I do to destress you may check my blog/diary at www.traveleatpinas.com

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    1. Thanks for your comment - I'll have to check out your blog!

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  2. These are such great tips! I get burn out too with all the posts I have to do so I'll keep these in mind :)

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  3. Very good tips . Being a homemaker I always get burnouts ..Now I know what to do;) thanks for you :)

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    1. My favorite thing about these tips is that they're cheap/free - so they relieve the burnout without adding other financial stressors.

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  4. I like to diffuse some essential oils like jasmine or lavender and hot herbal tea to relax from a hard day on the computer.

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  5. I do the exact same thing when i've feeling burnt out!! Nothing is better than a nice bath, a glass of red wine, face mask, i might do my nails, light a candle, and maybe watch some netflix. I felt relaxed just reading this article. I usually try to leave pampering nights until the weekend, but sometimes you just need to do it on a weeknight as well!
    Amanda xx

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    1. I agree. Most of my pampering sessions are on weekday mornings - that's when I can take advantage of my kids being at school. Their dad isn't around a lot these days, so it's really the only time I have to myself.

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  6. Yes, we all need self-care, otherwise we'll go nuts. I usually read a book when I need a break. It helps.

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    1. Me too! I love being able to zone out with a good book.

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  7. Self care is so important m! It's crazy how many people go without taking care of themselves. Taking time out for yourself will make yourself more successful in the long run

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  8. You need to learn how to take care of yourself. With you I mean ALL of us. I generally take a bath and listen to relaxing music or I go to my boxing class :)

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    1. Ohh, boxing! I bet that really releases the pressure of daily life in a whole new way!

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  9. I agree. Self care is very important. I am glad to hear you beat your burnout. Finding balance is the key to success. I still can't believe you posted a blog post every day in January. I am sometimes burned out posting twice and week and their is two of us working on our blog! I also make sure that I read a book on our travels (Trains, planes, etc.) I refuse to look at my phone during these journeys. It is my relaxing time.

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    1. Yeah it was definitely challenging to blog daily in January - but it was actually quite fulfilling, too! I was proud to have done it, because it really was a lot of work especially with other life stuff going on in the background.

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  10. Sometimes that simple cup of coffee and sitting for a few minutes is the most perfect self care. I think its awesome that you are taking a little time for you so you can give more of yourself.

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    1. Well, you know what they say - you can't pour out from an empty cup.

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  11. I appreciate your honesty! I too allow the kids to spend the on their devices so I can go escape in my room for a bit. No shame in that!

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    1. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. I'd rather let my kids hang out and entertain themselves with some screen time than to keep them away from something they like and we all pay the price for their boredom.

      I do try to make sure that the apps they use and the shows they watch have some educational value though.

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  12. I am experiencing major burnout right now. It is unbelievably frustrating because I want to continue to do thing for my readers and my family, but I just don't feel like going. I like your coffee idea, it would be nice to have a nice cup of coffee alone sometimes. I get burnout on being mom all the time too. I need to figure out how to get a little alone time in my weeks so that I can prevent it and feel recharged.

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    1. Take advantage of the weekdays when kids are in school - or even the few minutes each evening after they go to bed. Or before they get up in the morning. It is so important to find time to nurture yourself, too - even if it is only a few scant moments at a time.

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  13. Its funny. Being passionate and committed is awesome, but there is a risk of burnout. Love these tips on connecting with our passion but beating the burnout risk.

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  14. I am stay at home mom and I do my work from home too so I can relate to this. Thanks for the tips!

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  15. This usually happens when you have too much going on. I don't like dealing with burnouts but they're inevitable. I think it's awesome to give time to yourself when this happens.

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    1. I definitely tend to have a lot going on - it's like my whole world is in overdrive sometimes. Maybe I thrive under pressure ... although I certainly don't always feel like it!

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  16. Self care is very important, it allows you to relax and unwind. Work can be stressful especially when you're trying to multitask.

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  17. I don't want to talk about burn out because I am currently experiencing one. Sigh.

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    1. Ha! What I'm hearing is, "Thanks! I found this post at just the right time!" *wink*

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  18. One thing I do enjoy is to take care of myself. With a small child I don't get to very often but I try to set aside time atleast once a week.

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    1. You just have to - otherwise you come up short at some point and realize that you no longer have anything to give.

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  19. Great tips and great reminder for ourselves... I ll definitely try it out :-)

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  20. These are great tips! I know that I burnout more than I would like to admit.

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    1. Me too. I push myself until I can't anymore, and then have to drop into self-care mode until I get my mojo back.

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  21. Living with Lupus I get burnout a lot quicker than I used to. It has been quite a learning process to force myself to slow down and realize the signs that I need to take a day for me. I do always try to take a few minutes each day to get focused rather than let everything get out of hand (otherwise my mind is going about a million different directions if I let it get out of hand lol). On my really bad days there really is nothing better than a good cup of coffee and a good book though.

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    1. Agreed. There's something about curling up with a good book that just makes the world feel like a better place to live.

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  22. Great ways to beat the burnout. It's so easy to loose that balance in life and have a burnout, I have been through many in my life.

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    1. Thanks! Me too - more than I care to admit. I'm usually pretty good at treating my burnout stage, but prevention is a whole other story.

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  23. Sometimes It is so easy just to loose it. You have great ideas. I am in a burnout mode right now. Have to get it together and do the best I can.

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    1. I recommend you go hard with my tips! They really do help.

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  24. As an author and a blogger as well, I feel your pain. We all need an escape from our reality even if it is for a small moment to ourselves.

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    1. Sometimes that's all it takes to get me back in the right mindset again - just a moment to rest in the quiet.

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  25. I think the hardest thing about working from home all the time is the isolation. When I'm starting to feel beat down a little, I make sure to get out and meet up with someone to help me from getting too isolated. Sometimes, I'm able to withdraw and just enjoy time alone, but most of the time, that's not really an option.

    With my new year's goals, I started getting up about an hour to hour and a half earlier for some alone time where I can just read and reflect while having my first morning coffee. This has really been a life saver for me as well!

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    1. I so need to get back to this! I used to always wake up an hour before I woke my kids up, but more often than not these days, I snooze button until the last minute. I'm always sorry I did it, and I always swear I won't anymore ... but then tomorrow comes too early again.

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  26. I'm a full time mom and work at home mom these past few weeks I experiencing this burn out

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    1. Give yourself a day off! If you're working hard enough to burn out, then you've earned it!

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  27. Mmmm that coffee sounds soooo good! I really need to find more activities to escape burnout. I feel like I'm always tired at the moment! I haven't been on a holiday in a while so that could be it.

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    1. It really is a heavenly cup of coffee. This is my absolute favorite right now - it even kills the Starbucks craving!

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  28. Thanks for writing this. It has forced me to think of the ways that I handle being stressed. Mainly I just ignore it and try to keep going. No longer!!

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    1. I do that too - until I'm so exhausted I physically don't feel good anymore. I push too hard for weeks, then need several days to recover - which I often feel terribly guilty for.

      But I'm learning to be more patient with myself and my own need for rest.

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  29. it's so important to take care of ourselves. We can often forget to give us a break and not push so hard and to take that needed break.

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    1. I forget all the time, and then wind up burned out and exhausted. But it just takes a little self-indulgence to refill my tanks again, which is definitely a good thing.

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  30. I love this idea and I do "Self-Care Sundays" for myself as well. :) and so true it can be simple gestures that feel big inside.

    KatrinaJeanCarter.wordpress.com

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    1. Sometimes it's the smallest things that make the biggest difference!

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  31. I love Sundays. I take time off Sundays so that I am rejuvenated for the week.

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    1. I try to take one or two "easy" days a week - but it's rare for me to go a whole day without working, even when I have life stuff going on. Building a brand is tiring, but I'm a one-woman show for the most part, so there's not a lot of "off" time to be had. I hope one day there will be though!

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  32. It's so important to put ourselves first sometimes and take care of ourselves. Some me time is a must!!

    http://lovekimber.com/

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