Look around, and chances are you will see someone multitasking, or in a rush trying to complete a task. Very few people look calm and relaxed.
In fact, our current culture encourages overscheduling and a hurried lifestyle. There are book and magazine articles teaching people how to get more done in a short amount of time.
However, what is the price for maintaining this non-stop pace? Most likely burnout will occur.
Co-authors Mark Williams and Danny Penman address burnout in their book, “Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World,” with this caution:
“The result is that we are increasingly left with only work or other stressors that often deplete our resources, and nothing to replenish or nourish us — and exhaustion is the result.”
One of the most important ways to avoid burnout is practicing self-care. Most likely, managing self-care is last on the list of things to do — if it is even on the list. And often when one thinks of self-care, physical tasks come to mind, such as healthy eating and getting more sleep.
Physical self-care is just as important as emotional self- care. However, your emotions often impact your physical body.
In no particular order, here are some emotional self-care tips:
- Ask for help. First you must ask yourself what you need. Do you need an extension? Do you need someone to pick up your children? Do you need to cancel lunch with a friend in order to complete something else?
- Don’t be afraid to accept help. Everyone from time to time needs a hand. This is not a sign of weakness or incompetence. Even the most brilliant minds need assistance.
- Set firm boundaries. This will be difficult if you are used to saying “Yes” and continually aim to please. However, it may be this people-pleasing behavior that gets you into situations that leave you drained.
- Ask yourself some important questions. Before taking on another task, determine why are you doing this. What exactly will it involve? Are you doing this because you want to impress someone? Will saying “No” to this task matter a year from now?
- Start with very small behavior changes. Perhaps you'll get up 15 minutes earlier, and in so doing, you'll find it saves you countless minutes of frustration later. You may decide to turn off your electronic devices for a bit, so you can clearly focus. Notice the results you get by doing something different.
- Be mindful of what feeds your sense of self-worth. Does your self-esteem come from helping others? And if the answer is yes, this may be the very reason that you are burned out.
Constantly helping out at work or in your community can be rewarding, but you must set limits. If you are continuously pouring your energy into others, this can leave you depleted and frustrated, but ultimately you are responsible for setting the limits.
- Allow yourself to make mistakes. No one is perfect. Talking to yourself in a critical tone is harsh and doesn’t do you or those around you any good.
- Take the initiative. No one is going to help you fulfill these tasks, so it is going to be up to you. And at first, practicing these things will feel strange and scary, especially if you are used to going non-stop.
Be mindful that you are doing these things to take care of your emotional well-being. Incorporating emotional self-care into your daily routine is not selfish — it is healthy and smart.
Kristin Meekhof is a licensed master’s level clinical social worker. She obtained her B.A. from Kalamazoo College and her M.S.W. from the University of Michigan. She is the author of the forthcoming book, “A Widow’s Guide to Healing” (2015).
Williams and Penman — As quoted on page 29, in "Thrive," by Arianna Huffington (paperback edition; 2014).
Reviewed August 25, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith