It’s not always easy for you to pack up your bags and go on a 30 day retreat in Bali. Sometimes life requires us to be actively engaged and you can’t simply escape life and take time out. If you’re heading towards burnout at lighting speed I would highly recommend such measures but an effective strategy that’s a lot more preventative can help you maintain a sense of balance in the everyday work and life flow.
Many of us have meaningful projects, career aspirations and family life that we to attend to and feel passionate about. Our daily contribution to helping create a better world through these different platforms is what gets us out of bed in the morning. This being said there is a fine line between working with high productivity and passion and chronic stress that can lead to burn out.
Sure when we recognise the signs of stress getting too much we can take time out and simply rest and recoup but what our clients these days are more interested in is daily, ‘micro reset‘ opportunities. By this I mean little rituals that move your energy closer to your middle ground. It’s all about finding and maintaining your flow and unblocking stress on a regular basis so that you have a baseline you know you need to return to.
When you’re a high performer you’re on the go constantly and have expectations about what you can achieve in any given day and when you don’t reach the mark there is often a self-critical voice that inevitably drives you further the next day. This same self-critical voice can keep you up at night and while the intention behind it is to help you achieve your goals it can actually hinder you from being the best version of yourself and reaching your full potential.
Burnout is a way of telling you that your form of activism was perhaps not very full circle. ~ Gloria Steinem
Micro-rest rituals can become part of your lifestyle, and a wise investment in the body and mind that is all about becoming responsible for creating your experience. Humans were not meant to be machines of constant production and service in the same way trees don’t produce fruit all year round. If you honour your wholeness and attend to the body and mind keeping it conditioned in a way that serves your purpose and time, the more effective and intentional you will be.
Set the tone in the morning
Create a morning ritual that prepares you to be present and intentionally focussed for the day ahead. Have a think about how you want to feel and cultivate it. Take time to do some meditation, have a slow cup of tea and don’t begin the day rushing toward the future that’s not yet arrived.
Learn to say no
Boundaries are incredibly liberating when you can be aware of where you end and other people begin. But it takes a bit of practice asserting and creating boundaries with others. When people don’t respect your boundaries don’t engage with them and remind yourself of why you have the boundary in the first place. Boundaries keep you mentally and emotionally stable.
Change of scene
You’ve been working hard at a computer for hours and hours and begin to notice the shoulders are moving closer to your ears and the energy in the body is becoming more activated. Get up from the desk and take 5 minutes time out doing some other activity. This could be getting a glass of water and chatting with a collegue, having a short stroll outside and looking up to the sky or standing up and doing some mindful stretches and changing the posture.
Nourishing vs depleting energy
Become aware of how you relate to the ordinary activities you do everyday. Write them all down one by one from the moment you wake up to when your head hits the pillow. You’ll find that some activities feel like they are draining your energy and some feel like they nourish your energy. Try to bring balance to these activities and while you can’t always do only nourishing things you can sometimes condition the mind to approach things in a way that is less depleting.
If you get wound up regularly make sure you have a daily or weekly ritual to release emotional and mental build up of stress. Quite often the build up of emotional energy lives in the body, while thoughts just perpetuate it but body-based practices can help release it. Exercise is a well known stress reliever; customise your exercise for relieving stress by being aware of where you feel it in the body and stretch it out. Meditation can work in the same way by noticing where the tension in the body is and bringing some kind and nourishing attention to the effected area. The body is a great source of wisdom to let you know how you’re tracking and where you sit on the balance scale.
Arriving and beginning
When you arrive at home intentionally switch context in your mind allowing you to be present. Rather than wandering off with thoughts about your day or tomorrow, deliberately feel into the new environment, engaging all your senses. Establish a connection to the present moment and adjust your energy to the change of context. If it’s home time perhaps there is a slowing down and settling to be cultivated. If it’s after a meal it might be some resting and digesting that’s in order.
These micro-reset practices can help you live and work in a way that is rewarding and help you manage your time and energy optimally. Begin small by testing out one or two skills and be mindful about the changes you experience before adding in a new one. The main thing is to be aware of yourself and your purpose within the larger community and have the intention to balance your energy sustainably for the long run.