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How a 14 Hour Drive Helped Me on the Path to Overcome Burnout

Following the Do Less Trend

Littlehenrabi/Getty Images

It is Sunday night, and the anxiety is starting to build in my body.

Yup, I have to go to work tomorrow, and I don’t want to do it anymore. I am exhausted and frustrated. I have no idea how to get out of it.

The stereotypically answers to overcoming burnout are take mini breaks or practising meditation. But when your anxiety is so high, just learning to sit still for a few minutes is very difficult to do. The feelings of not doing something becomes crazy to imagine.

It wasn’t until I was required to take a 1-day road trip that I found meaning in a mini-break. It was me, an empty highway, and 1,300 Km of the road to travel in one day. My hands on the wheel and no email or text messages to read. I couldn’t study, and I couldn’t do anything but point the car in the direction of the highway.

It was me, and audiobook “Do Less” by Kate Northrup. As I listen to the advice in this great little book, I could feel some stress and anxiety, leaving my body. What I learned during this drive is that I needed help and a plan. I can not keep doing it all on my own. I can’t keep going this way, or I am going to end up in the looney bin.

During this mini-break of driving, I had 14 hours to clear my mind and think through a few of the things that Kate Northrup recommended. Here are a couple of learnings from her book.

“Do Less” recommendation: “Discover what really matters to you.”

For me, this was tricky as I didn’t know what that was anymore. But what I realized was what I am doing and what I love are not aligned. What matters to me falls into three categories:

  • Loving my body and mind.   
  • My relationships with those I love.
  • My desire to help women fall in love with themselves.

My first step is to start doing what feels good to me, what I love, and what brings me energy.   

“Do Less” recommendation: “Receive Help and Ask For Help.”

As an overachiever and a woman, I say I can do it; I don’t need help. Never show signs of weakness. When you have a bit of a mini-break and walk away from things, you start to realize that others can do things too. The world will not fall apart if you take a full day off. Develop a list of the things that you love to do and a list of things that others can do for you. Here are a few things that others can do for me that drain my energy:

  • Clean house – hire a cleaner.
  • Social media designer
  • Allow staff the freedom to do things on their own

If you are burnout or experiencing high-stress book a mini-break and break free from the noise. Turn off your cell phone, email, and chatter. I do recommend going somewhere by yourself. Allow your mind time to clear – listen to a book like “Do Less” to get your mind thinking about how to take a break. Allow this time to prune away the things that don’t matter.

The car ride was great because it forced to keep my hands and eyes on the road, and I could not be distracted while doing so. It gave my body enough time to relax, and my mind time to consider my options with the false notion I was still doing something.    

While mini-breaks are not the solution to burnout, they are the starting point to give you time to think about a plan. Once you have an idea, find someone to help you keep on the program, be it a friend, a coach, a mentor, or a spouse. Share your plan and, like the overachiever, learn to overachieve the idea of “Doing Less.”

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