Energy is a precious resource. If we continuously spend our energy on activities that deplete us, we risk becoming burnt out. Whenever possible, be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to restoring your energy levels.
Our warning signals are different and if you’re not sure what yours are, that’s okay. When we have lived in a highly stressed state for a pro longed period of time, we may become disconnected with how we feel in the process. You may experience anxiety, the inability to unwind or quieten a racing mind, difficulties sleeping, feeling agitated or a sense of hopelessness.
When I was edging closer to burn out, I felt exhausted, frustrated and had a lack of motivation to do anything – even on weekends. Everything felt like a chore and there would be days when I really struggled to get out of bed. I kept pushing through this until I realised something needed to change. I was anxious, stressed and not enjoying life. My current reality wasn’t what I had envisioned my life to be. Once I understood what was causing the burn out, I made a short term and long term plan. The short term plan was to try and work from home for a few days each week to reduce the time spent commuting. This wasn’t possible so I asked to reduce my work hours by 30 minutes each day and have a consistent roster. Going from having 4 or 5 different work times each week to stable hours helped all while I was focused on my long term goal – finding a different job. This step took a while but it did happen.
The reason why I’ve shared this snippet of my life with you is to show you that it’s possible to change your reality. If you are not happy with an aspect of your life, you have the power to change it. Granted, you may not be able to change it immediately but you can take steps to.
During this time, I also focused on doing activities that restored me. I started to write a manuscript, I took baths, I went to yoga, read and listened to podcasts. With the support of my fiance, I tried to incorporate at least one activity each day which made me feel good. When we took our dog for a walk or play, I would leave my phone at home, I focused on what I was grateful for and listened to short guided meditations.
While these activities weren’t going to change the fact that I needed to exit the job, it did make my situation better. I focused on the activities that restored me after being energetically and emotionally drained at work. We can either allow our lives to be filled with activities that drain us or we can try to implement activities that make us feel restored.
Each of us adapts to the environment we are in. If you have lived in a stressful state for a while, you may not be aware of how you could feel (ie. calm, relaxed). What I’d encourage you to do is to take a few minutes to be still with your thoughts and pay attention to what comes to mind. Pay attention to how your body feels – where are you carrying tension? How are you feeling in the moment?
Reflect on the last time you made time for a restorative activity. Was it recently or longer ago? In the next week, schedule in time for a restorative activity. Whether it’s 10 minutes, an hour or longer, schedule it.
If you’re unsure of what a restorative activity is, it’s one that restores your energy levels. It’s one where you can achieve a sense of flow, stillness of your thoughts and/or get a good rush of dopamine. The aim with a restorative activity is to restore your energy levels. It’s a form of self care and when we have higher energy levels, we perform better. We can show up each day as the best version of ourselves rather than spending our energy on trying to feel better or endure burn out.
It’s time to give yourself space to unplug and restore your energy levels. Some ideas include: yoga, meditation, walking, hiking, running, getting out in nature, time with animals, a road-trip, reading, dancing, singing, a craft or DIY project, baking or taking a bath. Find activities that restore you, it doesn’t need to be an expensive spa day or one that looks glamorous to others. It’s a restorative activity for you.