Modern life can feel like a constant hustle. Between ticking off items on our to-do lists, constantly working towards the next thing and balancing everybody else’s happiness and expectations we can often feel the niggling panic of overwhelm lingering in the back of our minds - waiting for an opportunity for us to take a break so it can strike.
As a result, It can be tempting to go, go, go and do, do, do all the time. Our collective fear of not being enough combines with our fear of really feeling the fatigue and fear that that has built up in our bodies after weeks, months and even years of continuously striving. Unfortunately, as more and more of us are discovering, if we don’t stop and process how we feel, the overwhelm, fear and fatigue can all become too much. We reach burnout, where our bodies make us take notice, whether we want to or not.
Burnout has been used as a badge of honour in the past. Busy has become synonymous with successful and burning out has insidiously become the ultimate proof that you are doing enough. We’ve become martyrs for our productivity whilst ironically, not being very productive at all.
Burnout creeps up on us through our daily habits, but it is not inevitable. Changing those habits and instilling self-care practices in their place is a small step you can take daily to protect your energy and remain focused on what’s really important. Getting clear on why you’re working so hard can often show you that you don’t need to be driving forward 100% of the time.
It feels counter-intuitive, but often we need to do less to accomplish more. Breaking our body and mindsets serves no one, especially those closest to us who, at the end of the day, are often our prime motivation for working so hard. Here are a few key ways you can step back and see the bigger picture, whilst still enjoying the pleasure of progress and being present in the small moments that bring the most joy.
Disconnect to connect. Getting out into nature, or inviting it into your home with flowers, plants and seasonal cooking, is a potent return to simplicity. Nature never hurries, yet everything is accomplished - we’d do well to learn this lesson! Take yourself to the beach regularly to watch the waves, or find a wooded area where traffic can’t be heard. Ground down with bare feet, touch flowers with your fingertips. Remember that all this was before you and it will most likely be long after you too. Feel how amazing it is to even exist in a world as varied and impossible as ours. Nature reminds us that we, and our problems, are temporary and that every moment is a blessing. It is the ultimate reset button so try to include a little in your life every day.
Boundary setting is one of the most critical aspects of practicing self-care and avoiding burnout. We often give so much of ourselves away because we want to help or feel that we’re terrible people if we put our own needs before others. We’re not.
Learning to say no is empowering. Begin by spending time getting clear on your visions and desires and then thinking about what you are saying ‘yes’ to in your day to day life. Are your actions for others in-line with your goal for yourself? Or are you giving too much away and staying stuck as a result? Identify your boundaries and practice saying ‘no’ with kindness. It will be difficult at first but your true passions will flourish as you are able to focus more and more energy on what is really important to you.
Like boundaries, priorities are something we have a vague notion of in our daily lives, but may sometimes struggle to pin them down. Clear priorities are a map to our goals as they show us what we need to do, and what may need to sacrifice, in order to reach our destinations. Getting clear on your priorities (your health, time with your family, investing in yourself) will give you guidelines on your boundaries and help you govern where your energy is best spent. We are finite and sometimes we have to choose one thing over another. This is a struggle in a world fixated on freedom of choice and you can have it all. But ask yourself is that what you really want?
Keep your motivations big and your expectations small, work smarter not harder and above all, keep it simple. Your life should involve some challenges, but it shouldn’t be a struggle. Let go of the ‘busy is successful’ badge, take some time in nature and ask yourself what you truly desire. Then use your energy wisely in making it happen.
Photography: Anthony Tran | Kristopher Roller | Katie Emslie
A designer and writer who loves helping businesses and entrepreneurs tell their story creatively.
Terri specialises in creating content which inspires connection; whether that is blog copy, social media graphics or building websites and brands. She helps small business owners identify themselves with a range of consultancy services and helps put their plans into action and share their purpose with their audience.
Having travelled extensively, Terri is a keen digital nomad who hunts out the best coffee and wifi connection any area has to offer. She adores the people, places and connections that she encounters when travelling and is grateful her freelance marketing biz gives her the chance to travel and work indefinitely. Having worked in Bali, Portugal and the Netherlands, Terri is currently based in the UK but has more than a few travel plans on the horizon.
Often found in or by the sea, Terri is infinitely inspired by the rugged grey oceans, stormy waves and cold water surfing culture. She curates a cold water surf website SeafoxCreative and loves nothing more than getting out and experiencing grey skies and green waves.