I am the queen of burnout, if it was a country, I would be its ruler. I have mastered the art of battling burnout so well, that it’s becoming a dangerous occupation for me.
When you’re trying to balance a 9-5, along with the commute that comes with it and make sure you’re going to the gym regularly AND making sure you’re working on your solopreneur business, things become a little messy in the brain box.
My brain is hardwired in a very manic and high-speed way. It likes to think about 1000 things at once and I’ve tried everything to slow it down… nothing ever works.
It’s easy to say ‘just slow down’ or ‘just put some things to one side’, but for some of us, it’s just not in our nature, so what can we do?
Finding productive downtime
I’ve struggled with mental health problems for all of my adult and teenage life, so I’ve tried every single mindfulness and breathing technique in the book. I’ve tried to integrate meditation into my every day, I’ve tried placing myself in the middle of nowhere without a phone signal, I’m even on anti-anxiety medication, but the best thing I’ve found to ease my high-speed brain is to trick it.
Me and my brain have been at odds for years, I liken it to Jekyll and Hyde or Bruce Banner and the Hulk. There’s the cool, calm and collected side of me that just wants to sit and binge on Netflix, then there’s the busy part that needs to constantly be doing something. Unfortunately, they busy brain wins out most of the time.
It took a while, but soon I found a way to be ‘busy’, but also have that downtime and unplug from the digital world. I tricked my manic mind into thinking I was getting sh*t done, but in reality, I was having the most relaxing time of my life.
Finding a productive hobby
Setting yourself a task to do something you love or something that relates loosely to the growth of your business has worked wonders for me.
I often get comments on how busy I am, what with having a full-time 9-5, this awesome blog and an art side-hustle. The thing is, even though the art brings in a little bit of cash, it’s my downtime. I may be painting a commission for someone, but it’s just me, my brushes and my tiny Bluetooth speaker, locked away in my spare room.
The same applies to blogging. It’s only the admin stuff that feels like work. The actual creation and writing of the blog is the most relaxing thing to me. Again, I can just pop my headphones in and block out the world. I don’t even have to be online, I can go into offline mode in Google Docs and not be disturbed by the external noise of social media or emails.
What’s the difference between burnout and stress?
Now, let’s get real for a second. I’m not claiming to have it all figured out.
I get burnout at least once every three months, something I’m working on decreasing! I’m working to a very big goal and I’ve got a bunch of awesome things coming up over the next year, so I’m working hard now, to have an easy life later.
I reckon a lot of you are the same. Working hard on building your creative business, so that you can have a more flexible and freeing life in the future. The thing is, you have to remember that life isn’t just that picture perfect idea you have for your future, it’s happening right now!
Taking some time to just stop and ‘smell the roses‘ is the most important thing you can do for you and that picture perfect life you have in your head. To build anything amazing, you have to have strong foundations. That life you dream of can only be built on the one you are taking care of at this very moment.
You will be stressed, you will feel rundown and like everything is taking its toll, but managing stress can help to prevent burnout. Burnout is the end result of not managing your stress levels and paying attention to your body and mind.
How to identify burnoutIf you’re wondering how to identify burnout, here are a few things to watch out for:
- Low energy levels
- Irritable mood
- Lack or increase in appetite
- Little to no interest in activities and hobbies
- Feeling week both mentally and physically
How to combat burnout
To prevent burnout, you need to manage your time and be more intentional with your everyday tasks. If, like me, you are constantly running around and hopping from one task to the next, make downtime a part of your list of things to do.
I have had such a chill afternoon! Went for a walk and just sat on top of a hill, no music, no artificial sounds, just freezing cold wind and a 10 minutes breathing exercise. 🌿🌿🌿 I also cracked out this baby. It’s been sat on my shelf for ages, filled with colour film and still 10 photos left to snap. If you’ve never tried film photography, it is the very best way to get back in touch with the true meaning of photography. Plus, you never know what it’s going to look like once it’s developed. ❤️
For example, yesterday I wanted to get my new website live, but when it got to around 3 pm and I realised I hadn’t gotten dressed or left the house, I made it a task for me to turn off my computer and head out for a long walk. It was a break I desperately needed and once I got back home, I felt more chilled, had a clearer mind and could actually sort out my to-do list more effectively.
Managing stress and preventing burnout
There is no one-size fits all solution to managing our mental health. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned from years of ‘professional‘ help. No matter how many tried and tested techniques these doctors threw at me, hoping something would stick and I would be magically cured, it really came down to me and figuring out what worked and what didn’t.
I’m still figuring things out and I hope that one day I will be a pro at handling my stress levels and preventing burnout. For now though, tell me what YOU do to manage stress whilst building a business, do you have any special techniques or tools you like to pull out of the bag in times of need?