Whether or not you’re participating in the back-to-school rush, September can be an incredibly busy time. There is something invigorating about shifting into a new season — one full of goals, plans, and new starts — especially after the lazy, hazy days of summer. But that buzzing energy can also bring with it the risk of burnout. So what do you do when backyard barbecues turn into parent-teacher conferences, client meetings, and jam-packed new routines?
Writer and speaker Brene Brown (one of our faves!) says that living with stress has become the new default for many of us. If we aren’t operating at a fever pitch, it can begin to feel like we aren’t being productive. But maintaining that level of activity can lead to acute stress, illness, and an inability to connect with the people in our lives. Learning how to properly manage not only our schedules but also our emotions is an ongoing process. As Brown says, “To really recover from burnout, we must change not just our schedules but also our thinking. We must accept that what we produce and contribute is not our value—and get clear on what is.”
Ready for a recharge? Read on for three ways we’re re-examining priorities, making time for ourselves, and finding balance in a busy world.
- Find your quiet place. Recharging isn’t just about taking time away from stressful activities: you need to give your brain the chance to completely shut down. Rather than picking up a new activity (pottery? rock climbing? cross stich?), use down time to indulge in something mindless. That might be reruns of your favorite TV show; meandering walks at dusk; or long, slow lengths in a community pool. Take the time to shut down and let your mind wander. You’ll be amazed at what gets cleared out.
- Because you’re worth it. Often, burnout is a product of feeling like nothing you’re doing is good enough. You’ll never be able to make it to all those dance recitals, and you’ll never know the answer to every question from your boss. But you might be an expert smoothie maker, your dog’s favorite fetch partner, or the person your coworkers turn to for advice. This fall, start the practice of a gratitude journal. Each night, make a point of writing down three things you’re proud of, and three things you’re grateful for. This simple act might be all it takes to calm the hamster wheel in your head.
- Unplug. We know it’s easier said than done, but burnout is only exacerbated by the sense that everyone else is doing better than you. Now that we have access to every Insta influencer, Twitter personality, and Facebook album full of accomplishments, it’s easy to believe you’re the one falling behind. Not only that, but the constant barrage of light and activity from our smartphones has been shown to disrupt sleep and prevent relaxation — two major causes of burnout. Next time you’re feeling stressed, make a point of shutting down early. Turn off your phone and your computer for a few hours each evening and work towards being present. We promise: you won’t miss it.