Prevent Burnout Naturally
Is Mercury in retrograde again or is it just life? Rather than brushing off clues that signal disharmony, it's important to notice before they blossom into something unwieldy. Maybe you work overtime and skip meals. Or you take on too many tasks and have difficulty saying no. For a time you may seem to be coping. Until you don’t. There's no avoiding it, when you neglect your own needs, your body calls out for help. The signs may be subtle, such as a dull ache of dissatisfaction, low energy, or loss of appetite. But one thing’s for certain: When the scales of life's demands are tilted too far in one direction, burnout happens; and the mental and physical exhaustion that it brings can be debilitating.
Daily pressures will always exist. So how can you make sure they don’t get out of hand? For holistic ways to keep calm, read on...
Each of us has a different pressure threshold. The importance of listening to your body and its signals can't be stressed enough. One way to do that is through Yoga and meditation; another method to deepen awareness is by making regular “tune-ins” a habit. Pause at least 3 times a day. Each time you have a meal is a good rule of thumb. Ask yourself, “How am I feeling right now?” Resist the urge to answer right away. Simply notice... Is there any discomfort in your body? Bring it to the surface. Observe. Are you experiencing tension? Even if only a slight twinge, become aware of all uncomfortable sensations. How and where do you feel them in your body? If you experience anxiety about a specific event or situation, think it through; don't suppress discomfort and fear. Once you are aware of the factors influencing your behavior, you'll be better equipped to address them.
Breath is a wondrous life force. And how you breathe impacts your emotional wellbeing. Quick chest breaths are common during times of stress; while slow belly breaths are known to soothe the nervous system. Instead of waiting until you feel uncomfortable, make a habit of incorporating breath work into your mindfulness routine. Something as simple as five minutes of the yogic breath, Alternate Nostril Breathing (aka Nadi Suddhi) can help calm the mind and integrate the right and left hemispheres of the brain. For a visual, check Yoga with Adriene’s video.
Another way your breath can serve as a meaningful tool is with essential oils. Carry a small bottle in your bag. Use it when you need a break. Simply pause and breathe in the soothing aromas of lemon, lavender, known to promote inner calm. Or try Jasmine oil, which, researchers in Germany discovered to be an effective Valium substitute.
Without quiet moments of reflection it's challenging to regroup. While the Internet is a profound tool of interconnectedness and knowledge, it also frequently pulls your gaze into multiple places at once, contributing to mindlessness. Instead, consciously choose when and how you use your time online. So create space for uninterrupted time, even if only an hour per day, then gradually increase over time.
Without lightness and a sense of humor, life turns heavy, shrouded in darkness. Just as children incorporate playtime, there's much to be gained by maintaining a playful spirit through adulthood as well. If you haven't heard yourself laugh in days or even weeks, make a point to read, watch, or listen to something that tickles you. Or just laugh. So what if it sounds silly. There's a reason why laughter Yoga has become so popular. It feels really good. Why? According to research, laughter causes endorphins to be released in your brain, and creates a joyful feeling. For additional ways to bring more playfulness into your life, read: Reclaiming Your Sense of Play.
Creativity & Color
Color therapy is an age old healing modality based on the belief that each color invokes different reactions in the mind and body. Colors known for promoting tranquility are soft blues, yellows, lavender, and certain shades of pink. How you use color is up to you. Envelope yourself in a particular shade: wear a scarf or article of clothing. Try colored eyeglasses. Meditate on sheets of colored paper. Additionally, you can blend the calming wellness benefits of art with color: visit your local craft store, and spend time exploring a rainbow of art supplies. Create your own art/wellness kit, complete with brightly pigmented paints, or pastels/pencils/markers. And infuse creative time into your daily life.
Be mindful not to downplay your own needs. Only you decide how much responsibility to take on. And no matter how busy life gets, remember, you can always say no. Saying yes, isn’t always kind. Ultimately, when you run on empty, it serves no one. And the healthier you are, the more effective you’ll be. In a way, avoiding burnout means realizing the importance of self-care. Gradual moments of inner calm serve as a respite from daily pressures and cool the embers of stress before they have a chance to catch fire.