You go flat out all the time.
You pride yourself on handling everything. No matter what’s thrown at you, you catch it and, seemingly without effort, add it to all the other plates you’re spinning.
A last-minute assignment at work?
Making goodies for the school fund raiser?
You’re on it.
Carpooling kids sports teams, extra laundry from game day, boning up for a big career promotion – it’s all good.
Until your body crumbles under the burden of too much stress, too little sleep, and sporadic self-care, at best. You feel exhausted; utterly spent, lucky if you can drag yourself through each day.
Whoa, now. These signs of burnout are serious. I urge you to commit yourself to practicing physical self-care or you’ll be too burned out to enjoy your life at all.
What Exactly Is Physical Self-Care Anyway?
A good physical self-care routine incorporates diet, exercise, and the quality of your sleep.
Here’s why they’re important not only to general physical self-care but also for the prevention and healing of burnout:
A poor diet can profoundly impact your immune system, mental health, and risk for chronic disease. When you rely mostly on fast foods, you can further compound the risks of dietary issues and amplify the effects of stress on yourself.
Exercise is also an important part of self-care, especially if your job requires you to do a lot of sitting. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends healthy adults get at least 75 to 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity each week. Take a walk, go for a run, or dance. Do something you enjoy and move your body!
Curiously, getting enough high-quality sleep often gets overlooked. And how often have we sacrificed sleep in order to keep over-taxing ourselves?
However, a recent study in the Journal of Neuroscience points out that lack of sleep may actually cause irreversible damage to brain cells. I don’t mean to scare you – but I do want you to be aware of the risks of lack of sleep.
As well, sleep is also important for healing, weight loss, and maintaining healthy stress and hormone levels. The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep each night for adults to remain healthy. I know what you’re thinking…
“Okay, great, but how the heck do I sleep better?”
Click here for tips on how to get restful sleep.
Last but certainly not least, take charge of your medical health. Make sure you get an annual physical check-up and a women’s wellness appointment to check your reproductive health, including breast and pelvic exams, and a Pap test. Also, schedule any other tests that are recommended for your age group. So many of my clients neglect this important part of their physical self-care that I wanted to be sure to mention this.
How To Create A Supportive Routine
First, ask yourself what your goal is for a physical self-care routine. Getting specific will help you tailor one to your particular needs. Here’s a step-by-step guide for you:
#1 Identify how you want to feel
A great way to start is to ask yourself how you want to feel. Perhaps you’d like to feel energized, optimistic, or cheerful.
- If you like to journal, write out your goal as clearly and vividly as you can.
- If you’re a visual person, you may want to sketch your goal with colored pencils, or create a vision board that represents what you are working towards.
#2 Create action items to accomplish your goal
Next, include specific actions that will support you. They may be things like:
- Wake up earlier
- Go dancing
- Take a warm bath
- Get a massage
- Learn about healthy eating
#3 Set yourself up for success
I encourage you to set yourself up for success! As highly-accomplished women, I know how we like to dive wholeheartedly into something new. Which, in this case, can be a recipe for failure. So I want you to take baby steps with your routine.
- Add physical self-care gradually so you aren’t overwhelmed – this will help you break free from the burnout cycle.
- Also, consider asking someone you trust to hold you accountable. If you have someone who’ll check on you, it’s easier to stick to the commitment you made and to remember your reasons why.
- Another helpful tip is to put everything into your calendar. Every night, plan out your schedule or review it for the next day.
But remember – baby steps, please!
What To Do If Your Routine Needs Tweaking
Even with the best of intentions, and a wonderful accountability partner, there may still come a day when you realize you’ve let your physical self-care slip.
One of the most important parts of self-care is being able to recognize when you need to tweak it. Because, as you know, if you neglect your own self-care, even a little, you can experience burnout.
If you find yourself feeling worn down, and you’d swear your routine isn’t working, I’d like you to pause and reflect. Perhaps you’ve been letting your physical self-care go little by little, until the cumulative effect has snuck up on you.
Or maybe you just need to tweak the activities in your routine so they’re more in line with your goal.
Please don’t just convince yourself that it’s not working, then abandon it. You deserve nurturing. You likely just need to fine-tune your self-care to feel better and bring yourself back from burnout.
You can also sign up for my mailing list to receive regular tips and advice for getting out of burnout and back into balance.
Share Your Favorite Physical Self-Care Ideas
Even if you don’t already have a physical self-care routine, you already know what sounds enticing to you.
You may be someone who would adore going for a walk alone in the woods. Or luxuriating in a spa day with a massage and pedicure.
What would feel best to you? If you could wave a magic wand, what kind of self-care would you get?
Given your current commitments, what one pleasurable self-care action could you take right now?
You get the idea! Share in the comments below.
“What’s up with you? It’s as though you don’t even like yourself anymore.”
If you’ve heard this recently, pay attention. Someone who cares about you has noticed that you haven’t been showing yourself the love you need.
And here’s the thing. You may genuinely believe you love yourself. But your actions speak louder than words.
For instance, when I had all the signs of burnout, I would have sworn to you that I loved myself, yet my actions said otherwise.
I didn’t make time to look after myself. I felt worn out; overwhelmed; burned out. And it took me a while to figure out what I needed to do to recover.
I was slow to realize that it was important for me to change my perspective in order to kick my burnout recovery into gear. Deep down, I knew I had to stop neglecting myself. The remedy had to be self-care. But first, I had to understand what self-care is… and what it isn’t.
What Self-Care Is
Self-care is the way you express your love through your daily interactions with yourself: how you eat; how tenderly you bathe yourself; the clothes you choose; and, how you talk to yourself. This is all self-care, and reflects how much you love yourself.
Having a daily practice of caring for yourself – during which you listen to your body, tend to your needs and desires, and treat yourself like you would a beloved child – cultivates self-love and balance.
Because self-care is so crucial for burnout recovery and your overall well-being, in my next blog posts I’ll be covering the 6 essential self-care areas: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, sensory, and adventurous. You know I’m passionate about self-care, and I can’t wait to share with you.
What Self-Care Isn’t
Knowing what self-care is not might be even more important. It is not something that you force yourself to do, nor is it something you don’t enjoy doing. As noted psychologist and burnout expert Agnes Wainman explained, self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.”
More importantly, self-care isn’t a selfish act either. It is not only about considering your needs; it is knowing what you need to do in order to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others as well.
This is really important to understand: if you don’t take good enough care of yourself, you won’t be able to give to your loved ones either.
Yet you can also have too much of a good thing.
One Self-Care Mistake to Avoid
I’m clearly a huge proponent of self-care. Yet I urge you not to schedule too much self-care at once. Anything you do in excess will cause overwhelm. That includes self-care. And when you’re overwhelmed, you’ll find it hard to consistently care for yourself.
Take one of my clients, who decided to create two self-care processes, one for the morning and one for bedtime.
She chose to implement 6 items into the morning routine and the same for bedtime. When I asked if she felt comfortable with this, she said yes.
After a week, I checked in with her. She had not yet incorporated her self-care processes into her schedule, and she was beating herself up over it.
We talked about how she could make this new venture more fun and more manageable, and she decided to focus primarily on her bedtime process at first. The plan was that once this process became a habit, it would be easier to implement a morning process too.
She chose 2 or 3 self-care items for bedtime, which allowed her to relax into and enjoy her new routine. Instead of feeling pressured to add self-care into her schedule, she was able to have fun with her new practices and build them gradually into her daily routine. Over time, her days began to flow with greater joy and ease.
How To Create An Effective Self-Care Routine
A great starting point is addressing your relationship with your body. We women tend to push our bodies as though they’re machines. I’m aware that’s what I did. Because you may have been neglecting your body and what it needs, my suggestion is to start a self-care practice where you connect with your body. As you have probably noticed already, when you ignore your body’s messages your body always manages to get in the last word.
Start with baby steps. For example, add one new self-care item to your routine every 1-3 weeks or as each item becomes a habit.
Or, alternatively, consider a time limit. Begin with your entire list of items but only give 5 minutes for each one. Then increase these time frames as desired every 1-3 weeks until your routine is flowing and feels effective.
Yet if you’re not sure how to get started or if you still have questions, here’s a practice of mine you can use.
My Simple Self-Care Practice
My From Burnout to Balance Simple 10-Minute Daily Self-Care Practice was essential to my burnout recovery.
This practice has been shown to:
- Increase mindfulness, well-being, self-confidence, and personal power
- Increase your ability to concentrate
- Cultivate a greater resilience to stress, a positive mindset, and a sense of hopefulness and calm
- Decrease stress and stress-related symptoms like frustration, mood swings, feelings of overwhelm or lack of control, anxiety, depression, low energy, headaches, body aches and pains, muscle tension, chest pain and rapid heartbeat, insomnia, and frequent colds and infections
- Reduce or even stop worrying
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Click here to get My From Burnout to Balance Simple 10-Minute Daily Self-Care Practice, where I walk you through it step by step…
With this practice, you can can start right away to deepen your self-care and start your recovery from burnout.
But that’s not all I have for you. Sign up for my mailing list, and you’ll receive regular tips and advice on burnout recovery, self-care, special events, and more.
“Why did they ask me to do that? I don’t have time! Don’t they know how busy I am…and did I really just say YES?!”
If this sounds like some of your internal monologue, I want to offer you support with setting personal boundaries both as a way of self-care and to overcome burnout.
Personal What, Now?!
Many of us women were never taught about personal boundaries or, if we were, we inferred that setting a boundary meant putting up a wall between ourselves and others. Like when you’ve had all you can take, you snap, “That’s it! I’ve had enough!” in your frustration and resentment.
By then, of course, it’s too late. Snapping a protective wall into place is the antithesis of a healthy boundary; it’s reactive rather than proactive, and is a protective measure rather than a thoughtful means of caring for yourself.
But why is it so difficult to figure out and set healthy boundaries?
You weren’t taught to. Most of us weren’t.
Let me explain.
Healthy Personal Boundaries Fly In The Face Of Conventional Wisdom
At its core, a healthy boundary is a principle that you live by. Brene Brown defines boundaries as simply what is and isn’t okay for you.
Sounds simple, right?
Except you’ve probably received a lifetime of confusing messages about what is or isn’t personally acceptable for you. We women get a lot of “shoulds” – we should feel a certain way, choose certain professions, behave in specific ways in order to please others and be rewarded. Which sets up a vicious circle:
You push yourself to conform to society’s conventional wisdom of how you should be. Yet you feel like you perpetually fall short, leading you to push yourself harder. You wind up feeling like you’re never quite up to standard…which stresses you out and leads you down the path to full blown burnout.
To top it off, we’re also given strong messages that self-care – which is essential to setting boundaries and overcoming burnout – is selfish and self-indulgent.
In other words, if you’re uncertain about your true principles, and confused about your boundaries, it’s not your fault!
How To Skillfully Set A Personal Boundary
Since your personal boundaries rest on the foundation of your life principles, I encourage you to take some quiet time to identify your most cherished ones.
For example, let’s say upon reflection you’ve realized that quality time with your family is something you deeply value. Yet over and over again, you’re asked to take on volunteer work that cuts into your family time. You agree because, well, they’re good causes. Yet even as you agree, you feel resentful, which is a sign your boundary was just violated.
I want you to practice saying out loud, “Thanks for thinking of me, but I don’t have room in my schedule to take that on.” Practice it by yourself, or role play with a person you trust. Practice saying this until you can do it calmly. Be prepared to repeat yourself. And, if you can, smile while you say it.
There’s no need to explain or justify your response.
Now ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s something you deeply value?
- What personal boundary might you set now to honor that more fully?
Send A Powerful Signal Of Self-Care With Healthy Personal Boundaries (And Bring Yourself Back From Burnout)
The simple action of setting a healthy personal boundary will make you feel freer. You’ll be caring for yourself in a powerful way when you demonstrate your commitment to your boundary and its accompanying principle.
And can you intuit how graciously setting a boundary will help you overcome burnout? You will have taken a step toward lessening your overwhelm and stress, both signs of burnout. And you’re sending a signal to the Universe that you’re important. You matter. Your principles matter.
While this may in theory sound like a simple step to take, I know how scary it feels to move past years of heavy social conditioning. You don’t have to do this alone. When you sign up for my email list, you’ll receive regular support and advice including:
- Why self-care and self-love are essential for health and well-being
- Powerful practices to love and care for yourself
- Opportunities to join group events
Plus, I’m here to support you. Comment below and share your responses to these two questions from above:
- What’s something you deeply value?
- What personal boundary might you set now to honor that more fully?
Let’s inspire each other to set healthy personal boundaries for ourselves.
Burnout, Self-Care, Uncategorized
“Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.” – Anne Wilson Schaef
Are you the queen of perfectionism?
People could hardly stand to be around me. I was unbearable. Everything had to be done the way I did it, or it wasn’t done correctly.
But if you’re pitying the person on the receiving end of my perfectionism, know that I was harder on myself than anyone else. Everything had to be perfect, so I could never be satisfied with anything I did. Because, let’s face it, there’s no such thing as perfection.
As perfectionism took its toll on my health and well-being, I realized I needed to be okay with “good enough.” So I began to catch myself whenever I was being a perfectionist (which was almost all the time). I would stop what I was doing and say, “It’s okay if it’s good enough.”
At first I would find myself clenching my teeth while I declared, “Okay, it’s good enough! I’m done.” I would make myself move on, even when it was very challenging. But over time I relaxed and stopped clenching my teeth.
Still, there was a catch.
Just When I Thought I’d Moved Beyond Perfectionism, Guess What Happened?
After many years of “good enough”, I had gotten pretty good at catching any perfectionistic tendencies before they caused trouble. And then, I started dating my now-husband, Dean. He began to visit me in South Florida from his home in New York State. Maybe you can guess what happened!
From what I recall, it started with the dishwasher. Well, it’s my dishwasher so, of course, I would know the only right way to arrange the dishes in it. And my husband is a wonderful man, so he would load the dishwasher for me.
One day I opened the dishwasher to put something in. To my horror, it was in complete disarray. Things that should have been in the bottom rack were on the top, and vice versa. The big plates were blocking the water access, and… well, I could go on and on.
I hustled into the living room and said to Dean, “Can you come into the kitchen so I can show you how to load the dishwasher.” He just looked at me kind of amused. “Honey, I know how to load a dishwasher,” he said. To which I responded, “I believe that you know how to load your dishwasher, but this is my dishwasher, and I need to show you a few things.”
When he said calmly, “You know, it doesn’t have to be perfect,” that was when it hit me that my perfectionism had reared its ugly head. I paused for a moment. Then I laughed. “Okay!” I said, “Then can I show you how it can be good enough?”
We had a good laugh over that.
Luckily, in this situation, we were both able to have a sense of humor, so it actually brought us closer together instead of driving us apart.
Yet you probably know that the long-term results of rampant perfectionism aren’t nearly so benign.
Why Chronic Perfectionism Can Put You In Full-Blown Burnout
The impact of perfectionism is that you are never satisfied. Your energy is drained; you feel overwhelmed, like you’ll never catch up; you’re forgetful and have a hard time focusing; you have difficulty sleeping; and you lose your sense of enjoyment in life.
As well, some of the largest costs associated with perfectionism may be in terms of poor health. A longitudinal study following a sample of Canadians over 6.5 years showed that perfectionism predicted earlier mortality! This finding held even after controlling for other health risk factors such as pessimism and low conscientiousness.
Yes, perfectionism can cause you to die sooner than you would if you let go of it.
But for most of us, unrelenting perfectionism can be a recipe for chronic stress – a major contributor to burnout.
Let’s take a look at what’s going on beneath the veneer of perfectionism.
What’s Under The Mask Of Perfectionism
Underlying perfectionism is the fear that you’re not lovable if you make a mistake.
You feel that you won’t be or can’t be loved if you’re not perfect.
Most of us developed this belief early in our childhood; long before we were ever conscious of it. By the time you’re an adult, perfectionism is deeply etched into your being and taking a toll on your health and happiness.
You may not be satisfied with anything you do, convinced that no matter how hard you try it just won’t be good enough. You may also fear that someone will agree with you. The irony is that you will find whatever you’re looking for. So if you look for imperfections and believe they’re there, you’re going to find them.
Maybe you fear making a mistake. And when you do (because we’re human and we all make mistakes), you’re convinced you’re unlovable. You tell yourself you’re dumb; a fool; an idiot – leading you to feel even more unworthy of love, which causes you to stop caring for yourself. And so you drive your self-worth into the ground in a spiral of self-loathing.
Can you see how insidious this belief is?
Now let’s take a look at the remedy.
The Antidote To Perfectionism
Since Wikipedia defines perfectionism as “strain[ing] compulsively and unceasingly toward unobtainable goals, and measur[ing] … self-worth by productivity and accomplishment,” you can see how you unwittingly tank your feeling of self-worth when you don’t measure up.
And lack of self-worth means you’re not loving yourself. You can’t love what you don’t value.
Thus, the remedy to perfectionism and its accompanying feeling of being unlovable is surprisingly simple, yet powerful:
Love and care for yourself no matter what.
Here are examples of what I mean:
- Schedule time for self-care such as soaking in a hot bath, reading your favorite book, or getting a massage
- Exercise daily; even a 10-minute walk will support your well-being
- Eat nutritious food
- Establish a practice of saying affirmations daily
Here’s a powerful affirmation that’s appropriate to perfectionism:
“I give up being perfect for being authentic. All parts of me are lovable, and it’s safe to share them. Authenticity is the key to genuine connection with myself and others.”
Through the years, I’ve coached many clients who were perfectionists. By focusing on self-love and self-care, they’ve been able to release the need to be perfect and the seriousness of purpose that accompanies it. This has allowed them to embrace fun, joy, and authenticity more often and with greater ease.
I’ve put together a list of 23 of My Favorite Self-Care Activities That Take Less Than 15 Minutes for you to refer to as you focus on self-love and self-care. Sign up here to receive this gift right away!
It’s Time To Let Go Of Your Perfectionism
You know perfectionism can wreck your health, put you into full-blown burnout, and rob you of the joy that’s your birthright.
It’s time to let it go. For your sake, as well as for the sake of people who love you and care about you.
As well, trust me when I say that people actually find you more lovable when you screw things up! When you’re authentically imperfect, you invoke your humanity. Others like to see that you too are human, because, let’s face it, it’s hard to be around a perfect person all the time.
I understand that letting go of your perfectionism may seem daunting. But I also know when you make a conscious commitment to yourself, your life will dramatically improve.
If you desire to be supported by me in your letting go, I encourage you to join my free From Burnout to Balance 7-Day Self-Love Challenge.
During these 7 days, we’ll look at what’s really going on beneath the signs of burnout. I’ll give you simple strategies for how to turn things around so you can get on the path towards balance and enjoying your life again…
If you’re ready to break out of the burnout cycle and desire to be…
- Relaxed and confident, knowing you’re tending to the most important priorities
- Energized, clear and focused
- Calm, easy-going and peaceful
- Sleeping like a baby and waking up rested
- Engaged, inspired and passionate about your life
Join me by clicking here to sign up for my next From Burnout to Balance 7-Day Self-Love Challenge.
“I’m self-sufficient, I don’t need anyone, and I can get things done on my own without any help.”
If this sounds familiar, you’re probably jeopardizing your mental health and heading down the path to burnout.
Yet if you can acknowledge that doing everything yourself is neither sustainable nor desirable, you’ll be able to course correct – and improve both your mental and physical health.
I know it can be scary to admit you can’t do everything yourself, because I’ve been there. I remember worrying: What if no one believes me when I finally profess how hard it is to do everything myself? Maybe I’m just a complete wuss. If I come clean about how hard this is, am I negating my accomplishments? What if no one wants to help me?
It’s really frightening!
But when I’d burned myself out and had to accept that I couldn’t do everything by myself anymore, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I began to heal.
Why Do You Feel You Have To Do Everything Yourself?
When you think about it, isn’t it astonishing how we women get the message we’re supposed to handle every last little thing without help?
We feel this way for a variety of reasons. Common ones are:
- You like to consider yourself an independent, capable woman, able to do it all on your own
- Your perfectionist self stops you from asking for support because it seems like nobody can do things as well as you
- Or your inner critic stops you from asking for support, telling you that you should be able to do it on your own
- Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to you that you truly can ask for support; you can delegate, you can be part of a team rather than continue to do life as a solo adventure
These are all things I’ve done, so I get it! My mother raised me to be independent. Don’t get me wrong; independence is a stellar quality. I just took it too far.
Rate Yourself On The “All By Myself” Scale
Using the reasons I mentioned above, let’s take a snapshot of where you are now on the “all by myself” scale. This isn’t meant to judge; rather, it’s for you to get an understanding of your current state.
So, on a scale of 0-10, rate how often you try to do things all alone:
0: Not at all, never
10: All the time, always
Remember, there is no right or wrong, good or bad place to be right now. This number gives you a baseline of information. Acknowledging this without self-judgment is the first step to beginning to shift it. You can change this.
When I was on the burnout cycle, I was 9 on the scale of 0-10 when it came to doing things all alone. Can you imagine? No wonder I was burned out.
Since you’re not stuck at any point on this scale, let’s consider how you can change.
Where Would You Like To Rate?
Using the same scale and reasons, above, think about where you would like to be in 90 days. Would you like to do everything yourself:
0: Not at all, never
10: All the time, always
After you set your goal, here are a couple of assessment questions to ask yourself:
- How will you know you’re there?
- What will you be doing or choosing differently?
I encourage you to set this target with a number so you have something tangible to aim for. By setting a target like this, you bring it into your conscious, daily awareness, which lets you focus on allowing yourself to be supported in order to create the change you want.
For instance, when I thought I was Superwoman and tried to do it all alone, I was paralyzed by exhaustion and overwhelm. However, when I began to understand myself more clearly, I realized that not only had I been punishing myself, but also pushing away others who wanted to contribute to me. Once this awareness dawned, I experienced more ease, increased energy, and greater connection with others, which improved the quality of my relationships.
In other words, I brought myself back from burnout. You can too.
How To Stop Doing Everything Yourself And Come Back From Burnout
The solution is disarmingly simple:
Ask for help from others.
Whether you’re at the office or at home, when you learn how to ask for help, you’ll feel relaxed and confident. You’ll free yourself up to tend to your most important priorities, and you’ll feel energized, clear, and focused. As well, you’ll be calm, easy-going and peaceful; sleeping like a baby and wake up rested, engaged in, inspired by, and passionate about your life.
Any time you ask for support, you’re practicing a powerful form of self-love. You’re telling yourself and the Universe that you care enough about yourself to get help with whatever you are attempting to do, instead of letting yourself struggle alone with the weight of the world on your shoulders. This support also adds balance to your life, because you now have more time for self-care and the things you enjoy.
You’ll create more of what you desire in your life – without burning out.
Remove The Blocks Holding You Back
I know what you’re thinking…
“Whitney, I feel so blocked about asking for help.”
Simple though asking for support may be, there’s often a bunch of gunk that keeps you from reaching out. So, let’s dive in and de-gunk!
A. First think of a situation where you could use some help.
B. Then ask yourself these 4 questions:
- What keeps you from asking for support?
- What stops you from delegating a task?
- What would it be like to delegate?
- How might you delegate?
C. Take a few minutes to jot down your answers.
D. Next, write down your answers to the following questions:
- If you were to get someone’s support, what would the benefits be for you?
- What could you delegate and get support with, even if it’s something small to start?
Give this exercise a try. Then, consider your responses to the following questions and comment below:
Are you willing to delegate 1 small thing this week?
And if so, what is that 1 thing?
It’s Time To Get Support
Now that you know why getting support is vital, and how you can ask for it, I want you to imagine the new beliefs you’ll be able to tell yourself:
“I ask for help when I need it. I receive support as a way to care for myself. I support my happiness and well-being when I accept help.”
You’ll feel calmer and more at ease when you relax into the benefits of receiving help. No longer will you be overwhelmed and racing down the road to burnout.
Life will feel joyful again – and you’ll feel satisfied, knowing you’ve taken vital steps to restore your wellness.
It’s time to reach out and ask for help. And speaking of help, sign up for my email list to receive regular tips and techniques to bring you back from burnout and into balance. I look forward to supporting you!