Whether the fact that it’s December 1 gave you a panic attack or made you start humming “It's the most wonderful time of the year," there is no doubt that this time of year is stressful. For many of us, the last few weeks of the year kick our burnout into high gear… so we roll into New Year's Day feeling exhausted and fried instead of rested and rejuvenated.
To help you get through the last month of 2020 unscathed, here are some tips for curbing burnout and taking care of yourself.
Let go of perfection. My mom used to tell me “Perfection is boring.” And really, there is no such thing as perfect so let go of the idea that everything has to be centered, symmetrical, and worded exactly right. Unfortunately for my daughter, I passed down my perfectionistic tendencies to her. She often gets frustrated when she doesn't get a math problem correct or if she can't make the ear on her artwork look like a real human ear. When I notice this happening, we practice saying out loud “Done is better than perfect” and move on to the next thing on our list. While we both still fall down the perfection rabbit hole some days, it is now easier to recognize it and move on.
Schedule breaks into your day. You deserve 5 minutes to yourself… and going to the bathroom doesn't count as “me time” even if it is the only place you are alone! Studies* show that when we take breaks throughout the day, we are more focused and get more done… so when you sit back down to work, you will check more off your To Do list. When I worked in the public schools, I would take a break when the bells would ring. Even though I was a counselor and not beholden to the bell schedule, it helped to get away from my computer for a few minutes, use the restroom, and stretch my legs. If you don't have bells ringing in your office or home every hour, then set an alarm twice a day to get up from your desk, drink some water, take a few deep breaths, and maybe even go outside!
Connect with your community. Often times when we are stressed, we retreat away from friends and family to hunker down and get boxes checked. But with the holidays looking different than normal, it is more important than ever to make time to connect with loved ones. Schedule time to call someone or meet outside for a socially distant coffee date. You can also join the Inner MAP Project FB group to connect with other like-minded women who are also striving to create a Mindful, Active, Present life.
Take care of your body. I'm sure by now you know the benefits of exercise and eating healthy. But did you know that when we are stressed, our body craves sugar?* This is because we are looking for quick energy to fight off the sabertooth tiger, or more realistically, the work project that just landed on our desk. Rather than grabbing cookies at 4pm, get some exercise. This HIIT video is sure to get your heart pumping and give you an energy boost to get through the rest of the day! If HIIT isn't your thing, go for a run, take a yoga class, or hit the gym. Just do something to move your body! This often stops the sugar craving and motivates us to eat something healthy instead.
Find gratitude. Gratitude has been shown to decrease stress and improve our attitude*. And this time of year is the perfect time to practice being thankful. Get out a piece of paper, set a timer for 3 minutes, and write down as many things as you can that you are grateful for. When stress takes over, re-read the list and sit with the sensation of abundance. One of my friends has even created a "Gratitude Jar" for her home. She and her family add gratitudes to the jar each day. When someone is having a hard day or when they want to share a fun evening at home, they will dump out all of the little pieces of paper and read them aloud to remember how lucky they are.
I hope this helps you get through the week and rest of the year with less stress and more calm. For more tips on how to prevent burnout, download the FREE “Burn Bright” Guide so you can burn bright not burn out!
"For the Most Productive Workday, Science Says Make Sure to Do This" by Minda Zetlin
"Why Do We Crave Sugar When We're Stressed?" by Emily Low
"The Benefits of Cultivating Gratitude for Stress Relief" by Elizabeth Scott, MS