Dealing with Burnout

dealing with burnout

Tired. Unmotivated. Uninspired. Unable to focus.

These are all things I’ve been feeling for the last couple of weeks, although more acutely over the past few days. I hate being like this, as it’s not me, I like to think of myself as driven, ambitious and enthusiastic.

I’ve been dealing with more anxiety than usual recently and I think these feelings go hand in hand. After waking up again at 3am drenched in sweat, Tom and I had a discussion over a cup of tea about all the things making my anxiety worse, down to the really small silly things like the menu at my friend’s hen do last weekend.We talked about how we could tackle some of the items on my ‘stress list’, in particular finance and admin around our upcoming house purchase that are really getting to me. And then we headed out for a long walk in the sunshine.

It helped.

For me, although I don’t want to talk about things, it always helps. A problem shared is a problem halved and all that!

Plus, outside is my happy place. Being in the sunshine, the quiet of the countryside, a deserted beach or expanse of field, or anywhere on the water.

I had a whole post about re-energising your life in collaboration with Pukka planned, but actually it feels more appropriate to talk about it in relation to my recent burnout, and how I’m getting back on track.

Dealing with burnout

Meditation 

I know, I know. People have been banging on about this to me for ages too, but it was only on this recent trip to Florida where I would spend my jetlagged mornings having some quiet time on the beach. It wasn’t structure meditation, just me focusing on my breathing, the sound of the water and trying to be in the moment. It’s the first time I got it. I realised that meditation is whatever you want or need it to be, and can be whatever you want to help you. For me, it’s being by the water or listening to the sound of the ocean when I’m not lucky enough to be staying right next to the beach!

I would make up an iced Pukka Clean Matcha Green (a refreshing blend to start the day with a clear head) , made by steeping the teabag in a small amount of hot water, adding cold water and ice cubes) out to the beach in the morning while Anna slept, walking along the boardwalk and think of all the things that I’m grateful for.

dealing with burnout

Take a Step Back 

I took time off the blog, I didn’t let my marathon training overwhelm me and I just relaxed. I spent the past weekend on the Isle of Wight for my friend’s birthday and although I took my laptop, I only opened it once. I ran…but three slow miles with friends to get coffee in the local town. And I had a lot of fun (and some moments of pure fear!) sea kayaking where everyone ended up out of their boats at various points.

Prioritise 

What are the important things to YOU? When you’re feeling burned out, exhausted and overwhelmed, something probably has to give. Whether that’s pressing pause, taking a break or quitting something altogether, it is important that you work out what your priorities are and find a way to keep those at top of your list (or move them back up the list if it has slid down!). When I don’t see my friends/Tom for a while, or don’t make time to run then I know my mental health declines, so that remains a priority for me. 

It’s also crucial to make time for what you love. So if you’re marathon training and feeling burned out from it, perhaps it’s time to reintroduce that workout class you loved instead of one of the runs? Or schedule in a yoga class as some much needed down time from running, Similarly, don’t cut out your Friday pub sessions with friends, perhaps just switch your drink or head home before last call is made 🙂 

dealing with burnout

Get Outside 

We spend too long inside, hunched over our desks or phones. Personally, I find getting some fresh air, whether it’s a walk, run, eating outside or just making time to enjoy the sunset, so important. Why not meet a friend for a tea and a walk, or make the most of your lunchbreak by grabbing a colleague and a mug of Pukka Lean Matcha Green tea (great for aiding digestion) and heading outside – fingers crossed for a sunny summer! 

dealing with burnout

I think it’s important that we all connect with nature once in a while. Studies show that greater use of ecotherapy, such as environmental conservation, therapeutic horticulture and care farming can all help improve mental health issues including anxiety, depression and stress. It’s the perfect excuse to start plogging (running and picking up litter as you go!)  Not only that, but you’ll also top up your levels of Vitamin D. (Check out my post on why Vitamin D is so important for us all!) 

Eat Well 

I know I’ve said this before, but I can get into a vicious cycle of eating crap and feeling like crap. I’m more aware of this, and am making a conscious effort to stick to my 80/20 rule, without sliding too much. I got into a habit of having daily diet cokes towards the end of my hospital placement, and this was continued in Malawi and Florida. However, I’ve stopped that since returning and have swapped my afternoon pick-me-up to a Ginseng Matcha Green which gives me a natural and sustained energy  boost without the added sugar or crash of coffee.

Ditch the Negativity 

Outside negativity from finances, colleagues, family etc can affect us more than we know. It builds inside of us and can impact not only our mental wellbeing but our physical health too. 

I let negativity really get to me, especially if it’s a comment, however minor, from a PR or brand. I dwell on it for days, often offering to do over and above for free, even if I’m not in the wrong. It can bring me down, and affect other aspects of my life, like my relationships, running and overall motivation. I’m really trying to let things go, and not link my self worth to one critical comment. 

dealing with burnout

And so that’s what I’ve been working on over the past few weeks.

Although I’m still occasionally waking up a sweaty mess of anxiety, or letting things get on top of me, I am really trying to calm down. Not only have I got my blogging/writing mojo back, but I feel SO excited to be back running. It took a step-back but  ultimately it was two steps forward in terms of progress.

Have you ever dealt with burnout? How did you come through the other side? 

7 Comments

  1. W.Purves.
    June 19, 2018 / 11:19 am

    Sorry to learn of your stress but you have been trying to do too many things and burn out results.
    Priorities and find space to relax body and brain. Good luck. G.

  2. kristi
    June 19, 2018 / 4:32 pm

    I’m glad you took some time to recognize the issues and get back to it as I always say.

    But I will say that running in humidity, especially when you’re not used to it all can also have an effect on your body and mentality. I run in Houston, Texas, and start training for my Fall marathon next week. At least Florida gets somewhat of the ocean breeze (LOL). There are times where I really have to push through my mind to get to a point of exercise. It makes me anxious sometimes and I get overwhelmed really easy. And on top of getting sick in Malawi. Don’t beat yourself up too much. You got this!

  3. Lisa
    June 20, 2018 / 12:24 am

    Thanks for sharing Charlie!

    I’m two weeks out from my first marathon, and despite feeling good throughout the training cycle, suddenly here I am a ball of nerves, struggling for the motivation to go for a walk let alone a run, and reaching for all the worst sorts of foods. Your ideas are just what I need to get my mind and body back in the space to tackle this marathon (and whatever comes after that). Thank you x

  4. June 20, 2018 / 3:35 pm

    Sorry to hear about your anxiety. My gut feeling is that you are probably trying too hard, especially regarding your running times. Also you are also probably taking too much on.

    Your most important priority is your health and well being. It might be best to just focus on running that brings happiness and relaxation rather than worry about achieving personal bests.

    Having too much on your plate always causes stress and anxiety. May be consider just doing easy running for the next few months and when you are feeling better, the house move is completed and everything is settled then try another marathon challenge.

  5. Janette
    June 20, 2018 / 7:07 pm

    Whilst I do empathise with you to some extent, I think you need a healthy dose of perspective. Getting anxious and burnout over blogging, birthdays and marathon training is really not worth it, its a very strong case of “first world problem”. None of that stuff really matters, its hardly life and death, or anywhere close.

    It also looks like you need to learn to say “no” to things. Not sure why you are rushing around the world if you have a tendency towards stress and anxiety: Malawi one week, America the next…..is all that travel really necessary or enjoyable…..surely that is a large contributer to stress and burnout? Stay at home for a month for the benefit of your mental health.

    • charlotte
      June 20, 2018 / 7:39 pm

      You are right, much of it is ‘first world problem’ stuff like work, house buying, jobs, money etc. unfortunately I’m not able to share some of the more personal/things that are not about me so perhaps the blog doesn’t give the full extent of the stressful things going on right now. the travel is awesome, I love it, but both were for work so not particularly relaxing. I was writing some freelance pieces that I was paid for about Malawi and was on a tourist board press trip to Florida. I love to travel and have done it all my life but it’s obly as my anxiety has gotten worse that I’ve noticed the travel affecting it. I never want my blog to seem like I’m moaning, just sharing some of my ups and downs and I’m totally aware that I live a very privaleged life!! Thanks so much for rI aging and good advice to stay at homthe or a while!

  6. Rachel
    June 21, 2018 / 3:49 pm

    I totally understand the stress and burnout, and especially the anxiety flare up. I think the points that you’ve highlighted are ones that I need to follow myself. I’m a PhD student with two jobs, and I’m glad I recently made the step of cutting down to 0 hours of one of my jobs. This has given me more time to hopefully focus on the things that are most important, despite the fact I loved working there!

    Some people will argue that the burnout you’re feeling is from first world problems, and can be simply curbed by saying “no” to things. I’d counter-argue that in an increasingly ‘connected’ and social media-led world, the pressures put on our generation are different to those before us, and this can contribute to a different type of anxiety. Our bodies haven’t caught up to this faster pace of living, and looking after ourselves has never been more important.

    At a time where many mental health services are being cut, self-care and looking after one another is paramount. For me, you sharing your anxiety experiences has been important to me to realise my own experience with anxiety – so thank you for being strong enough to do so, and share these small tips for helping with burnout and any negativity!

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