Let's talk about BURNOUT.

Burnout. It's something that you've probably had to deal with a few more times than you'd care to admit. And when searching the topic online, it's disappointing to find that few people are offering decent solutions to burnout.

I've come to the conclusion that burnout may well be just another cycle - one that we should try to understand and manage, rather than avoid altogether.

As entrepreneurs, we often go through cycles of extreme productivity, productivity that outpaces most people we know. And then, we go into a cycle of extreme UN-productivity. Its something I've lovingly coined, the "low productivity cycle." And so, I've banished burnout by looking at the whole cyclical process differently.

I don't know about you, but my Type-A self isn't willing to let go of the idea that I could somehow improve. That eventually, I can lead a burnout-free life.
This most recent time I experienced burn out, I sensed its approach. In preparation, I asked for a vacation day off work in 2 weeks in advance. I finally gave myself the respect that I needed to do some introspective work that I think is going to make a big difference for the future.

But sometimes, burnout can hit you right in the face. In another example, some unexpected family health issues combined with an exhausting week at work left me emotionally crippled and unwilling to get out of bed. Who knew?

So I finally took a step back and analyzed what was really going on. Even though I don't have it totally under control, I want to share with you some of the things that I have found have helped at least to mitigate the stress and anxiety that comes from the low productivity cycle.

Here are 3 ideas that can disrupt those negative thought patterns and ultimately free you of the burnout you're experiencing.

1) Accept Your Situation and Give Your Brain Breathing Room

Respect your need to give your brain a little bit of breathing room, and give your emotional self a little more space.

How can you ever identify and treat the root cause of an issue, if you have so many variables going on? This is the time to go on a low-information diet. Meaning: turn off the tv, get off your phone, and turn off the podcasts, radio, etc.

I limited my interactions with anything that I thought could bring me down. That means - news, internet, and even conversation. As I began to find calm and made peace with how I was feeling, I gradually reintroduced these variables. This space allowed me to identify the cause of the burnout and discover what type of burnout I'm experiencing so I could move forward with recovering.

2) Get Back Into Your Body

Recently, in one of my most extreme cases of burnout, my husband purchased me a spa day. He even found a great deal – which helped me feel even less stressed about it! It came just in time. 

There are so many ways you can do this:

Have a Spa Day >> A good solution for emotional burnout is actually getting out of your brain and into the physical. Whether through a spa day like what I experienced, so some other form of calming physical activity, getting out for a walk and really taking in soft sounds of nature, get back in touch with your physical self through all your senses being awakened gently.

Work it out! >> For real anxiety relief, one of the things that I have found helps is not just getting into the physical by way of treatments, but actually moving. Doing physical movements such as tai chi, Zumba, or dancing help me to be rid yourself of the negative energy that's weighing down my mind. In fact, working in daily morning stretches helps me feel more calm and balanced in social situations throughout the day. 

Spend time with an animal! >> In states of overwhelm, I feel best when I spend time with animals. I really saw this in action recently at the airport. There he had a dog in the airport, and it wasn't a bomb sniffing dog! It was actually there just for the emotional well-being of people standing there waiting for after you get out of the security line. Going through security is extremely stressful! But the moment I will locked eyes with that dog, everything changed. And I was truly delighted to find out that we are allowed and encouraged to pet him. 

Make Art >> Emotional, physical, all types of feelings can be helped through art. If you really don't know what's gotten you down, making simple piece of art to represent that emotion can really help you distance yourself from it. Even if it turns out ugly. Important thing is that you created something physical, that shows you that how you feel is separate from who you are.

3. Adopt Powerful and Healthy Habits

As someone who is always producing material it pays to remember that sometimes you can really start running low on inspiration. Without realizing it, your mind could shift into trying to force the inspiration and this really wears you out quick.

This is why front load my days and seek out novelty in the evening.

The best time to set up habits is when you're in your high productivity mode. At the beginning of a high productivity cycle, you may find that you don't even have the time to get every idea that you have down on paper. You may feel so strongly inspired, that you feel it giving you even more energy, sometimes working into the wee hours of the night. Or, like me, being willing to get up at 5 AM just to be able to manage all of the ideas that you want to see through to completion.

4. Seek Game-Changing Inspiration

I think that as you come out of the high-inspiration and feel that residual energy waning, you need to pour additional inspiration into yourself.

Structure time for high level inspiration consumption to complement your high level production. That means a time of instead of producing inspiring things, you should be consuming inspiring things. By consuming inspiring things, I don't mean simply pursuing on Pinterest for your next DIY idea. That just adds even more to your to-do list.
What I mean is, getting out and doing something truly novel.
  • Going to a museum. 
  • Watching something unbelievably unpredictable like Cirque du Soleil
  • Or, spending time with people that are greatly different from you. Be inspired by the people around you and how differently they live. 
  • Do something of real cultural interest. Go to a new city. 
  • And while you're there don't work, just take it all in.
  • Or... Just do everything little bit differently. Dress differently! Do whatever you can to experience something really novel in a healthy way.
When novelty doesn't work- find new inspiration in the familiar >> Sometimes, when you feel like you don't have any control over a situation, I have found it's very helpful to just spend an hour walking around a favorite store, a place you can turn off your brain. My favorite place to go in this situation is Target. I recently went to target with 30 bucks in hand and was able to spend an hour or an hour and a half just browsing. I really enjoyed looking in the seasonal section!

You know, just being in a place that you recognize and that has an expected orderly appearance with staff that are helpful, but not intrusive, can really help.

Reap inspiration by sowing seeds of gratitude >> Witnessing excitement and gratitude from something that you've done feeds back into your self energy that gets sacked out over time. Often times, in our work especially if I work is online work. We really don't reap the fruits of gratitude. So get it elsewhere by giving in a new way, like volunteering at the local food bank.

 I have found that these things are the things I've discovered about myself the reflection. Here's to attaining that healthy balance! I know you can do it!

If you have any other suggestions, or if any of this has helped you, please let me know in the comments below.

Never stop learning, growing, and reaching.


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Content by Laura Gabriele