Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings with a single bound. Is it a bird, is it a plane—no it's Superwoman!
Maybe you're not flying through the sky like our caped crusader, but if you're like every other person on the planet, you've no doubt experienced burnout at some point in your life from trying to be all things to all people.
You're working, running the kids around, going to the gym, being a mom, a sister, a friend, a co-worker, a son or daughter, a grandmother, a boss, a wife, a teacher, a homemaker, a fixer, a problem solver, and you have to do it all and stay sexy at the same time. It's absolutely exhausting.
It really shouldn't be this way. What's a superman or woman to do?
To begin with, start noticing. Noticing what? Stress. When burnout occurs it's too late. So when the sun stops shining and the lights gone out of your eyes, those are warning signals that you need to slow down, listen to your body and ask for some help.
Granted, supermen and women aren't the best at taking advice, or thinking they need help; but they do. So if you want to keep flying high and beat burnout you have to start paying attention to a few things.
How do you start noticing? Here are a few suggestions to begin.
Learn to pay attention
Most of us super-people are zooming through life so fast that we don't even notice our own body's signals. We push past fatigue. We blow by the headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension, and stress because we've been conditioned to do so. With a super person mentality, it's no wonder we crash and burn after years of cumulative stress. Instead of simply saying "I have a stress headache" ask yourself what is causing the stress and do something to relieve it. Address the triggers. Get a game plan in place to de-stress.
Learning to do a body scan several times a day is key to noticing when stress, fatigue, or lack of sleep is getting out of hand. Sit quietly for a few minutes wherever you are. Close your eyes and start at your head. Move through each part of your body, noticing where tension, stress, or tight muscles are. See if you can pinpoint the places you hold tension and stress. Notice if you're clenching your fists or your jaw. See if you have a knot in your stomach or if you feel generalized anxiety somewhere. If so, you need to learn to do progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing to calm yourself.
Being mindful is paying attention to what your paying attention to. What's on your mind? Do you ruminate or obsess about things? If so, what? How is what's going on in your heart affecting you physically? Spiritually? Emotionally? Take notice of the noise in your life and do something when it's too much. Mindfulness includes taking a non-judgmental stance about yourself and your abilities to do it all.
Watch out for Perfectionistic Thinking
Super people think and believe they need to be, have to be, ought to be, perfect. They should, must, and have to perform perfectly. They leave no room for mistakes. If you notice you're feeding yourself a steady diet of thoughts that push, judge, condemn or pressure yourself, you need to change. Learning mindfulness can help. Come up with some positive counter-statements to replace your judgmental ones—and use them daily.
Practice Silence and Solitude
Turn everything off. As painful as that sounds, that means everything. Phone. iPod. iPad. Computer. TV. Video games. Now sit—alone in total silence. See if you can start with 5 minutes. Let your mind be freed of all thoughts. If distracted, bring yourself back to your quiet place. Think of something that will relax you.
Self-care means drawing the necessary boundaries. This means saying the dreaded "N" word; NO. Even God rested on the seventh day! If setting boundaries is difficult for you, you have to figure out why saying no to people is so hard. What's the payoff for you? Unpack that and you're on your way to a calmer life.
Make a list
Don't skip this one. Take some time to really think about what relaxes and calms you. Have those things be your go to's when your feeling stressed. This will help keep you in balance body, soul and spirit.
We all hear a lot about self care these days, but few of us are actually practicing it on a regular basis. If we're going to do something about the stress in our lives, we have to pay attention to our triggers and be intentional about working our self -care plan.
Self-care needs to happen daily, not as a catch up after months and months of ongoing stress. So don't put off till tomorrow what you can begin today. Use these seven suggestions to begin, and remind yourself daily of the calm centered person you want to be.
Back at you: What have you tried to beat burnout? Have you been able to stick with it?