I had plans this past weekend. Glamorous plans of sitting down at my computer and writing in bursts. In between writing, I had plans to outline, or do some writing research.
They were beautiful plans.
And they didn’t happen.
Instead, I spent the weekend in bed or on the couch with a miserable migraine. I tried once on Sunday to sit down at my computer and realized I didn’t have it in me.
I’ve got through a gauntlet of emotions regarding this. There was frustration. Naturally as someone who’s far too hard on herself, I was mad that I didn’t get my to-do list done. I was annoyed at myself for not even trying to push.
But I realized something.
For the better part of my 20s, I pushed myself far too hard. And looking back, I realize that that’s what helped lead me to where I am now. Had past me learned it was okay to give myself a break, maybe I’d be in a better position to have that as a solid habit.
Instead, I’m working hard to make that a habit here in my 30s. Better late than never, right?
So what can you do if you find yourself in a position like mine? That’s what I’m here to talk about today.
1) Listen to your Body
To me, this is the most important part. Far too often, we get caught up in hustle culture. Writers all over say, “If you want to succeed in this field, you have to write every day.” While there’s an element of truth to that, has this led to the chronic burnout that we’re seeing?
I think it has.
What exactly is burnout?
Psychology Today defines it as: “Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress. Though it’s most often caused by problems at work, it can also appear in other areas of life, such as parenting, caretaking, or romantic relationships.”
I was one that religiously followed the advice to “write every day” in my early-to-mid 20s. Because of that, when I had health issues in my late 20s, part of what led to my mental issues was the fact that I wasn’t writing.
My mind said yes but my body said no. Sometimes for months at a time. And I’d love to tell you that I’m back to the stage where I’m writing fairly consistently again. But the whole point of this post is to tell you the opposite.
2) More Self-Care
Self-Care can be as simple as making sure you allow time to do something you enjoy every day. And I don’t mean writing. While we are in the business of doing this because we love it, it can’t be how we unwind at night.
For me, this looks like allowing time to read, or play video games. Some days, it involves a long hot bath. Other times, it means that I hang with friends. In the last week, self-care has looked like planning a trip I might make next month (that I’m trying my best not to get my hopes up for until it’s finalized).
What does self-care look like for you?
3) Schedule your Time
I have two planners. One for personal stuff and writing. The other is for my job. I write down what’s going on, due dates, meetings, and generally just try to keep myself straight.
I’m not the best at it.
But I’m trying to get better at it because I think it’ll help keep me sane.
If you google “how to prevent burnout,” this is one of the most common answers. There is some merit to it. But it’s something I struggle with.
There’s also a secondary reason for my two planners.
If you’re like me and work from home, putting the boundary between work and life can blur at times. Even though I just started my job, it’s been a different experience for certain.
One thing I wanted to change from last week to this week was that I wanted to make sure I delegated more time to my writing. Ironically, someone else gave me that advice as well.
Even while in the middle of writing this article. I had a friend tell me I need to be better about “chilling” and not feeling like I have to work day and night. It’s a habit that is left from my 20s. In hindsight, that’s probably why I’m in the state I’m in.
4) Reach Out for Help
I’m really bad at this one. Rather horrendous if I’m honest.
But, everyone recommends reaching out for help when you feel overwhelmed. You have people who are willing to help you. But you have to ask, otherwise they don’t know you need help.
Did I mention I’m bad at it?
Because I am. I feel like I have to take everything on my shoulders and then when I hit a wall. And then I burn out…
Oh look, it’s a vicious cycle that I need to break.
In the spirit of honesty and transparency, I went down for the weekend due to a migraine. In the past, when this would happen, I’d let myself nap for a bit. Then, I’d hunker down and write some more.
But this weekend, I didn’t.
I spent most of it in bed. Or the couch. I did some reading. But I also did a lot of resting. Watched some movies. Slowed down in a way I haven’t in a long time.
I’d love to lie and tell you that I awoke Monday morning rested and refreshed. But I didn’t. Even as I write this, I’m shaking off what’s known as a migraine hangover.
In some ways, I think that slowing down this weekend helped. While I’m not completely back to normal, the weekend did me some good. I’m running, and less on fumes.
That got me thinking, which means you got an article about my musings. How can I do this more? How do I establish the balance so that my body doesn’t decide that we need to come to a screeching halt?
I’m going to have to save that answer for a follow-up post. Because I don’t have the answer yet.