Just when I thought I had got back in the swing with blogging, Boom, I disappear for several weeks. But for the moment I am back and here is what has been going on.
Throughout the month of March, my aim for the month was to become more mindful. So I started meditating and taking more note of how I was feeling physically, mentally and emotionally. Let me tell you, it was very enlightening! I made of point of telling myself I wasn’t trying to judge how I was feeling, I was literally just taking notice.
At the beginning of March, I was feeling good, like, really good. I had never been so happy. But then towards the end of the month, I started to feel the dark cloud creeping back in. There was no reason for its appearance, there generally isn’t. But as the cloud became darker, my happy feelings started melting away.
This in itself was not a new phenomenon, after having two breakdowns in the past five years I now know the signs. The difference this time was how I then proceeded to handle these feelings. In the past, when I have started to feel like this, I have ignored it and continued to push through. My first breakdown was while I was at University, so I pushed through and continued to work crazy hours to get my work done until the point I was so stressed and anxious I was unable to leave the house or do anything on my own. This is also when I stopped eating for the first time. My second breakdown was when I was working in a job I despised (hate is not a strong enough word for how much I hated this company), I was running this blog and all my social media, trying to write my novel and keep up with my editing work for my clients. All of this whilst trying to keep up a social life! I pushed myself too hard. And I broke.
This time I saw the signs and knew I needed to slow down a bit. I now love my job and I feel like I am in a much better place in my career as they respect and support the fact that I am also a writer (rather than trying to turn me into a data entering machine!). But I was still trying to do too many projects. I was running the blog, trying to reorganize my novel and complete my ebook. Once again I was putting too much pressure on myself and something had to give. And sadly, for a little while, the blog needed to be put on hold.
But for the moment I am back, and I thought I would come back five ways you can tell if you are approaching burnout.
Notice your emotions – This is easier said than done, but it is important to be able to realise when your mind and emotions go from good to tipping over into bad. Once you are able to notice this early on, it becomes a lot easier to reverse the burn out before it turns into a full break down.
You’re feeling tired (all the friggin time) – One of the main ways I know I am approaching a burn out is if I am constantly tired. Not just physically, but mentally. When you start taking on too much at one time, your mind is running in overdrive and it literally uses more energy. When you start to feel like this its time to stop and take a day for yourself to recharge your batteries! For me, I like to take a few days to literally do nothing. I am a total slob, I just lie in bed and watch TV; which isn’t something I generally let myself do but it is a great way for me to switch my mind off!
You don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere – You’re working constantly but things aren’t moving forward as fast as you would like them too. This is a completely normal feeling, but when you’re spreading yourself too thin over so many different things, this quickly becomes a building frustration that only adds to your stress. – Take a step back and assess. Are you doing too much? Should you be putting more effort into one thing but giving up another? In which case, what needs to go? In my case, I had taken on too many projects and commitments, so what needed to be put on the back burner was my blog, so that I could focus on my new job and finishing my novel.
You just want to quit – When everything starts to get too hard and you’re tired and nothing seems to be working, its a pretty understandable feeling to want to quit. But don’t! You’ve come this far and I can almost guarantee you if you quit there will be a moment that you will feel better. But once you start feeling better you will want to go back to whatever it is you were working on, and chances are you will be back to pretty much square one – following on from the previous point, don’t quit everything. Look at everything that you are doing, are there things you can drop temporarily (or permanently) or not put as much energy into? Don’t throw everything away, work out what is the most important thing to you and work around that, don’t work this important thing around everything else. For me, the most important thing is my novel, but I was working my writing around all my other projects and work rather than the other way around.
You can’t see the point – The best way to know if you are approaching, or already experiencing a burnout, is when you can no longer see a point of what you are doing. I am a huge believer in having a ‘why’, The reason why you get up in the morning, a reason why you work so hard. But when you start to burn out, you lose sight of your why. – Stop. Take a step back. Remind yourself why you started this journey in the first place. Take a break. Refresh. Come back and start again with a renewed sense of purpose.
But most importantly, take care of yourself. No job or project is more important than your mental health, so remember to take some time to recharge. And for those of you who are curious, I am now feeling much better 🙂
What do you do to recharge? Let me know in the comments!