If you stop by here regularly you may have noticed I’ve been absent from the blog for a couple of months. I think for the first time in my career I have just experienced a burn out. 2020 has been a surreal year for everyone without a doubt and I think “Covid fatigue” has hit everyone at some point. You can read more about what I wrote on “Post-lockdown slump” here.
However, I took the situation earlier this year n my stride (I like to think!) and quickly adapted my business and lifestyle as much as possible. I was determined not to let the situation ruin my business that I have worked so hard for over the years. I got my head down and powered full steam ahead in to every aspect of my business. Please don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my work and although it is my job I CHOOSE to spend every day working on it for the shear fulfilment and enjoyment it brings me.
A couple of months back however, what was normally productive eventually just stopped being productive. I was no longer present in any task but constantly fluctuating between. Any thrill of multitasking had gone and Instead of the passion and excitement I simply felt anxiety and fatigue.
At first I thought I was just tired and needed to slow down a few days. This didn’t resolve the feelings and so eventually I gave myself permission to put the blog to one side, to stop frantically worrying that I hadn’t filmed for YouTube in a while, and I scheduled time off work completely. No clients, no classes, no article submissions, no deadlines. Nothing.
Whilst I am always striving for more, this really gave me an insight in to how wired my brain constantly is. Without realising, my stress levels were subconsciously raised, I wasn’t sleeping as well as normal, and I wasn’t fully present in my activities. These are signs you need to slow down!
Sleep has never been a problem for me most of the time, so when I was experiencing restless nights regularly and a feeling of fatigue in the morning, I knew something wasn’t quite right. Sleep is important for both physical and mental rest and recovery.
Our sleep cycle goes through various phases of activity. While we sleep we naturally produce human growth hormone, the hormone responsible for physical strength and fitness. This is only produced by getting a decent night’s sleep every night. In combination with this we also repair muscles and promote muscle growth. Cortisol production is reduced and as our body and mind rest we can reduce stress, anxious feelings, and general low mood. Prolactin hormone is also released, which stimulates our immune system, helping to fight any illnesses we may have.
Getting a good night’s sleep can require a good bedtime routine:
- Reduce screen time before bed and avoid taking your phone to bed where possible.
- Ensure your room is cool and dark with no light or sound distractions.
- Aim to head to bed earlier than your “sleep time” so that you have time to unwind and fall asleep.
- Try some gentle, deep breathing once in bed to remove any thoughts, worries, or the never-ending to do lists circulating in your mind.
- Set your alarm and when it goes off in the morning avoid the snooze. As hard as it is this makes it harder overall to wake up and get your morning routine underway.
Less work more play
I took the time to ensure I did more of what I enjoy that was not work-related. I scheduled time in my calendar for things I wanted to do such as read, paint, cook, and watch Netflix! Whilst these are things I would do anyway I recently found I had been neglecting time for myself and putting work first every time. I kept promising myself I would make time next week, but next week never came as I had taken on more work each time.
Having this break not only gave me a moment to slow down, but I think switching off was essential to re-spark my creativity and stimulate the direction I want to take things next year. I’m back to work fully now, however I am still being extra careful about over-committing and I have ensured I have my next set of “days off” in the calendar and I am forcing myself to stick to them.
This is a strange one for me, given I have created my business and lifestyle around exercise. Whilst I was super busy I was finding it hard to make time for my own workouts, which then was leaving me feeling guilty for missing them. Each day I missed a workout the guilt grew and I couldn’t focus on my work for trying to rush to fit everything in. So I officially stopped all workouts to remove the pressure. When the ice rink re-opened here last month I was desperate to skate again and booked in for the opening weekend. This didn’t feel like a chore or forced, I just wanted to skate. I’ve been back skating every week since and I am now scheduling swimming and gym sessions back in slowly. I re-started my morning Pilates & yoga sessions and I am back to enjoying this time rather than rushing to squeeze it in.
How is your festive end-of-year self feeling?
Check in with yourself and have a think about your:
- Quality of sleep & bedtime routine
- Stress levels overall
- Balance between work and things for yourself
- Workout plans and how realistic they are