The term “burnout” was first coined in the 1970s by American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. He used it to describe the consequences of severe stress as it pertained to certain professions.
But unless you’ve been living under a rock, burnout now goes way beyond just job stress. It doesn’t just affect those who work full-time jobs – it can affect anyone and everyone. It makes us feel exhausted, empty, stressed and unable to cope. A lot of the times, we can’t even pinpoint what’s making us feel drained and burnt out.
And that’s exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago. Adam and I were vacationing in Italy and there were some days where it took everything to get me out of bed in the morning for our jam-packed day ahead. When we got home back to Chicago, I noticed how off I really felt. I didn’t have any motivation to do anything, I wasn’t excited about work and I wanted nothing to do with Lipstick & Ink.
It took me a week or so to figure out that I was burnt out. After months and months of piling things on my plate and then being on the go our entire vacation, something just snapped. All I could fathom doing was laying on my couch and binge-watching TV.
I’ve found that I go through spurts of being the Energizer bunny and non-stop being on the go that I just end up breaking down. I’ve realized that it’s because I get myself into some bad habits and I don’t always properly take care of myself. Now I’m at a point of recognizing and acknowledging that and where I have been in my burnout. And let me tell you, I’ve been making changes and it’s helped tremendously!
If you’re feeling a little burnout yourself, take a read below to see the changes I’m implementing into my life to get myself back on track.
Talking About It
The first step to me recovering from this burnout in particular has been simply talking about it. I’ve tried my best to be open about how I’m feeling (even when it’s irrational) to Adam, my family and friends and the Lipstick & Ink community on Instagram Stories. I think it’s important to talk about it because I know others are feeling or have felt similar things.
I’ve made it a point to also talk about my burnout with my business coach because I wanted her to know Lipstick & Ink wasn’t a top priority the last few weeks, as much as I had wanted it to be. I knew deep down I had to take care of myself and get things back on track before I gave time to my business again. It’s not easy to talk about your feelings and to share you’re not okay, but I’ve found it’s connected me to others on a deeper level. I’ve had so many wonderful people (including those from the L&I community) reach out just to ask me how I’m doing, offer advice or to simply tell me to take care of myself. If you’re feeling burnt out in the slightest, make sure you’re verbalizing it.
Switching Up My Routine
I’ve prided myself in being a night owl for YEARS. I’ve always thought that I work better at night so I would force myself to stay up into the wee hours of the morning writing and working on Lipstick & Ink while I balance a full-time job. I’d still get a decent amount of sleep, but found in the morning that I was groggy and not very quick to get out of bed.
I’m not required to go into the office and can work from home whenever I want, so I usually work from home two to three days a week. Those days, I got into a bad habit of waking up and checking email on my phone the moment I woke up. I would then go straight to my laptop and begin working, sometimes before I even got my morning coffee or had breakfast. There would be some days where I didn’t even leave my condo (especially those Chicago winter days).
Because of all this, I’ve felt more stressed and anxious the last year and I think a big part of it is attributed to this routine I started. Needless to say, the last few weeks especially, I realized things needed to change. I’ve been kicking my night owl ways to the curb and slowly introducing habits to become a morning person.
I’m notoriously known for hitting the snooze button but no more! I’ve been waking up the second my alarm goes off and start with writing three things I’m grateful for in a journal that I started. A few of my friends do this already and swear by it. I think it’s been a positive change to include into my new morning routine. Instead of immediately reaching for my phone and being reactive to what other people are doing on social media, my first thoughts of the day are about gratitude. I’ve also begun writing and working on Lipstick & Ink in the morning prior to even checking email or social media (and leaving my phone in a different room). I’m aiming to have the time I dedicate to tasks be focused and productive, instead of erratic and distracting.
Making Self-Care a Priority
Part of my problem is that I don’t always make time for myself. And even when I do, whether it’s getting my nails done or going for a walk, I’m so distracted and thinking about my list of to-do’s and everything that’s stressing me out. Not so “relaxing” in the slightest. So, I’m making it a point to soak in those moments of relaxation and train my brain to ignore everything else it’s telling me to do. Mindset matters and it’s a work in progress, but baby steps!
Also, because I’m waking up earlier now, I have also been going to bed earlier. My goal is to unplug from technology for at least 30 minutes before falling asleep and read a book or do something like take a bubble bath or take part in my skin care routine.
Changing Up My Diet
Italy was absolutely amazing, but I got into a bad habit of eating gelato (sometimes twice a day) and drinking a LOT of wine. I wanted to have #noregrets and it was worth it, but I realized how unhealthy I felt when we got back to the States. I’ve read that what you eat can really affect your mood and I believe it.
I’ve since traded in my plates of pasta and my endless bottles of wine and am back to my veggie and fruit smoothies in the morning, salads at lunch and protein and veggies for dinner. I’m starting to feel lighter physically, but also mentally. You can read more about my diet habits here and how I aim to keep my health on track.
Detoxing from Social Media
I realized my burnout was partially caused because of social media. I was mindlessly scrolling and wasting precious time that could be better utilized doing something more meaningful and productive. For me, summer is a perfect time to ‘unplug’ in a sense and try to just live in the moment. I’ve been on social media a whole lot less lately and I’ve seen an uplift in my mood and overall happiness. I now make it a point to only get on apps when I want to be intentional about posting or engaging vs. just succumbing to the urge to open them and scroll.
Choosing What Brings Me Happiness
I passed a sign in a yard on a walk the other morning that read “Do more of what makes you happy.” If that wasn’t a (quite literal) sign for how I’ve been feeling, I don’t know what it is! I’m learning that saying no is okay – I don’t have to go somewhere just because I feel obligated to. I don’t have to make time for someone just because I feel obligated to. I don’t have to do something just because I feel obligated to. Sometimes, you just have to put yourself first. And my happiness in life is the utmost importance to me because when I’m not happy, I am definitely not my best self.
So, I am doing more of what makes me happy. I am writing when I have inspiration, I am going for walks when I want to enjoy the sunshine, I am turning on my diffuser and reading a book when I want to relax and I am spending time with family and friends who love me and genuinely want to see me happy.
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Role Strategy and Employee Engagement Manager at Salesforce and has over 12 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.