A few weeks ago, I shared a post informing you that I’m taking a break from writing this blog. The reason? Burnout. As I’m slowly getting my feet wet again at writing and sharing content, I am still healing from the burnout. Some of the symptoms I’ve been experiencing are waking up with extreme anxiety, a sense of dread for the next day, hopelessness, sadness, irritability, defensiveness…honestly the list could go on. Even as I’m writing this, I feel a heaviness resting on my heart and in my throat. That’s how I know I haven’t fully healed yet. The good news is that I’m definitely on my way, however slow the journey is. In the event that you feel even just a little like I do, here are some things that are helping me on my recovery.
This is huge for me because as someone who prides themselves on efficiency and getting things done, my mind was often in multiple places at once. I could be working on one project while mentally planning for the next one. I would have an endless to-do list and erratically jump from task to task. I’d be writing an email and then remember that I wanted to create an infographic for my class. I’d quickly, without even thinking, switch tasks and leave the email unfinished. This would happen several times throughout the day. I couldn’t keep my mind still and as a result, I’d be on edge all day, running on pure adrenaline. I finally revisited mindfulness, a tool I’ve been utilizing on and off for years. When I get the urge to suddenly switch tasks, I ground myself back in the present moment and make myself finish what I’m doing. The other task will still be there, I remind myself. I focus on my breath. Sometimes, to help me return to the present moment and the task at hand, I just look at my hands resting on my keyboard. I’ve also incorporated guided meditations back into my day again, specifically in the morning after I wake up. I wake up with anxiety and the guided meditation helps me be reminded that I am safe and that I have everything I need right there in that moment.
Spreading my to-do list
Oftentimes, I would have an extremely long to-do list just for one day. Did everything on that list need to be finished that day? No, but I treated each and every item as the highest priority. Even if I had time to complete something later in the week, my mentality was to use every single free minute of my work day chopping away at this damn to-do list. No more! I now look at my calendar and strategically plan my tasks according to when they need to be completed and when I have actual free time to do it. Rather than working on something during every free 5-minute period I had between appointments, I can now rest easy knowing that I have already set aside time to do it later. It allows me to take those 5 minutes and just sit. Sometimes just sitting, when I could be doing, is uncomfortable. I feel restless at first. But the more I’ve been practicing, the easier and more restful it’s become.
Embracing “good enough”
I can be a perfectionist a lot of the time which is something I do not pride myself on. Perfection is not only unattainable but seeking it is dangerous. It’s dangerous to my mental and emotional wellbeing. In fact, I spend a great deal of time during my lessons reminding my students not to strive for perfection. Especially during these most uncertain of times, it is okay, needed even, to embrace “good enough”. Doing so has not only saved me time and energy, it’s also helped the healing process from burnout. Embracing “good enough” has also forced me to be kind and compassionate and loving towards myself even when something isn’t perfect. I am still a good person worthy of love if my work is far from perfect. I am still a good person worthy of love if items are left on my to-do list. I am still a good person worthy of love if I get nothing done at all.
I am worthy, just by being.