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5 Lessons I Learned in 2017 to Avoid Burnout

The year 2017 turned out to be a remarkable year for me for a multitude of reasons. My body showed symptoms of burnout, which I ignored completely. I was focused on getting jobs done perfectly and there were never enough hours in a day to do all that I wanted done. This made me suffer more intensely from burnout.

Eventually I learned to let go of old routines to make room for new practices focused on taking care of my health. Now I adhere to practices of meditation, yoga and pilates in my daily routine. Here are a few key lessons that I have learned in this brilliant, turbulent and challenging year.

1. Self-Care: Watch out for Signs of Burnout

Feeling stressed has become a natural way of being for many people. Just take a close look at the faces of office workers as they leave their offices around 5 pm. The pressure is always on between 24/7 connectivity, travel, family commitments, and our social and work lives.

I was busy teaching, working and researching micro moments at a University in 2017, running a blog and my own website, and sharing stories on my kids’ youtube channel. Top it up with the routine household chores. The fridge should be thoughtfully stocked so that no one is “hangry”. Clean clothes should be easily accessible to make the breakfast rush hour less stressful. I was thrilled to be on top of things, excelling and beaming away at the praise that came with jobs well done.

My perfectionist nature pushed me to excel on every front. If I ever felt unwell or anxious, I didn’t bother to think or talk about it. Being resilient helps you make your way through life like a force of nature. But things become difficult when everything inside us tells us to stop. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to hit that point where your inner voice tells you to stop — it might be a little too late. You can stop earlier if you are aware of the symptoms of burnout.

Burnout, stress and mental fatigue manifest gradually, sometimes over months and years, and symptoms can go unnoticed. It is important to notice small changes in mood, energy, diet, and body as they may be signs of something more than the occasional anxiety. Talk to your GP at the earliest.

2. Mindfulness and Well-Being

The concept of mindfulness has been around for a while but I fully understood it during my research work in 2017. Ellen Langer’s amazing work on mindfulness inspired me to learn more about being present in the moment. Spending a week at an award-winning Wellness Retreat near the Gold Coast in Australia was a transformational experience.

It helped me get into a new habit of waking up at 5am to practice qi gong, and then go for a walk to connect with myself and the magical surroundings. The morning walk, without the Ray-ban’s and headphones, helped me become more mindful of the sounds and scenery around me. Organic food was not new to me but I noticed, for the first time, the positive changes in mood and physical outlook by eating only organic food in a regimented manner.

Small things make a big difference. For example, having a spoonful of Apple Cider Vinegar before breakfast set me up for healthy eating for the entire day.

After practising yoga with some of the top Yoga instructors in Australia, I fell in love with yoga. Yoga has the ultimate healing effect on me, and I find it to be deeply restorative and calming.

3. Incorporate Wellness Into Your Daily Routine

If we decide to take better care of ourselves, to be more compassionate to ourselves, then it is important to notice our feelings and habits that affect our well-being. How do you feel? Do you meditate? Are you addicted to coffee or alcohol? Do you over react to situations you once dealt with more calmly? Dr Libby Weaver’s book titled Rushing Woman’s Syndrome is an excellent resource to learn more about the impact of stress on our health. I have written about the book and my love for organic food on my blog Escpto (read as Escape to).

I have incorporated yoga and pilates into my daily schedule. The energy of the group is powerful to be in the right headspace, nurturing that beautiful heart and being connected with your body. Sometimes we live in our heads for so long, that being more aware of our body feels like a gift.

4. Spend Quality Time with Those You Love

When life gets really busy and challenging, perhaps something has to give between sleep, exercise, social life, regular meals and travel. Maintaining a balance is easier said than done. My learning in 2017 is that no matter how busy you are, quality time with your partner, close friends, children, and pets is essential to thrive. Reach out to those who care and make new connections.

If you are a people pleaser, it’s never too late to stop being one. The problem with being a people pleaser is that sometimes you give out so much that there is nothing left in you to give to yourself. People who love you, will inevitably find a reason to continue to love you and those who are hard to please are perhaps best left alone. Make more time for people who understand you and help you become the best version of yourself.

5. Travel More

I have found travel to be a life-changing experience from the people you meet to the food you eat. Travel more, on every opportunity, to places near and far. The plans don’t have to be elaborate, just pack up and take a break! Your body, mind, and soul will thank you.

Whether you travel to escape from the mundane, for finding romance, visiting friends and family, recover from grief or some other purpose — travel is perhaps one of the best ways of spending money without feeling too guilty.

Did you learn anything in 2017 that you are grateful for? Share your comments about what works for you in terms of living and eating mindfully or coping with stress. It is a great time to set goals and make a change. Wishing you a fabulous 2018!

Photo by Amila Tennakoon (Meditation Sri Lanka) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Originally published at symaahmed.com on January 1, 2018.

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