I’ve always thought I am the type of person that can’t hit the wall. Which might be just why I did it. I am burnt out and exhausted. Work and constantly stressing over certain things in life became too much. These are some things I’ve noticed that has led me to this conclusion:
- Feeling constantly tired, and not like I need to sleep. Just mentally tired
- Not feeling very inspired or creative
- Less social energy than I normally have
- Neglecting self care
- Feeling kind of “meh” about most things, like nothing really matters
As a result of being burnt out, I have stopped caring for myself, even though now is when I need it the most. My skin has felt pale, dry and itchy. I have not trained as much and my body has felt heavier – which makes it harder to feel like training which feeds the loop. I don’t like what I see in the mirror and I want to completely change my style. It’s like I’m not comfortable in my own skin. On top of that the house is cluttered and messy and it’s really poking at the peripheral of my mind.
So, how to fix it?
As humans we have a very easy time investing in stuff. We swipe our card and buy without thinking. Yet investing in ourselves seems inherently hard to do. Especially when we really need it. So to break out of it and trick myself into starting to care for myself again, I used the psychology of buying something new, which is so easy, and with that you of course want to use the new stuff. So I purchased a nice exfoliating soap for my face, a dry brush for my body and a soothing body cream.
Now, this not about the products themselves. It’s about them being a tool, pushing me to invest in myself. When we have new things, we want to use them; So these new products have “forced me” to create slow routines for myself. To spend time on me, for me. It’s a start, and that’s all I needed right now.
Once I had started I got motivated enough to look at other aspects of my life and what I can change to feel better. Here are some mindful routines* I am trying to implement in order to care for myself:
* It is important to note that this is what I feel works for me. It will be different for everyone and you need to pay attention to your own body and what makes it feel good. Nothing I write here is something I have looked up scientifically. For me this is all about setting good intentions and creating routines that creates a positive feeling that I am caring for myself.
how I pay attention to my
body and care for it
Eating consciously and listening to my stomach
My stomach has not been happy lately. Eating anything, no matter what it’s been, at what time of the day or the size of the portion – it has upset it. So I have started to look into food that is kind to your stomach as well as good routines to practice.
Before I used to have a small sip of water when I woke up and then go straight for coffee. Now I try to have a glass of water with lemon in it while my coffee is brewing. I am not successful in doing this every morning yet, but getting there. I have also halved the amount of coffee I drink each day and I try to drink more water instead.
In terms of eating I looove a big, hearty and savoury breakfast. But ingesting that much early in the day has not been good for me. Now I have a glass of kefir with some cinnamon and turmeric in it. It’s kind on the stomach and if I am just home working in the office I am not spending enough energy to warrant a big breakfast.
My go to lunch lately has been oven baked sweet potato with mushrooms, kale & chickpeas done up in a pan. Maybe a fried egg as well, and sometimes avocado if we have some at home. It’s filling but not heavy and beautifully colourful. Next weekend we will ferment a lot of vegetables and after that I imagine I will have a lot of rice with fermented vegetables for lunch.
Slow evening routines to calm down before bed
I used to go to bed straight from being infront of Netflix or a video game but then my mind is still racing and it’s hard to fall asleep. So now I try to spend some extra time on myself in the evenings, winding down before bed and getting into a relaxed, positive mindset. I clean my face of all the grime and dust of the day. And I use my dry brush and I slowly move it in circles from the feet up towards my heart. It feels good on my dry winter skin. Like I am brushing away what’s old and tired. I do it on my arms and neck as well. I then gently treat my skin to a calming moisturiser, and as I go to bed I imagine my thirsty skin drinking it like it was water.
If the products actually help is beside the point.
I am slowing down and spending time on me for what I believe will make my body feel better. Make me feel comfortable in my skin again, a skin that won’t be itchy. The knowledge that I am taking this time for me is sending signals of gratitude and positivity through my brain. And that is why I do this. Knowing that I am trying to care for myself makes me feel better, and ultimately that is very likely what is actually going to help.
In this period of being tired and stressed, as I’ve neglected myself I have felt more tired, and more and more uncomfortable in myself. It’s been a bad loop spiralling down. This is how I (hopefully) break free from that.
Decluttering the space around me
Our home being messy is a result of another bad loop; I started to feel stressed and tired and so the energy to clean wasn’t there, and then it got worse and more energy was needed to deal with it. But since I spend most of my time at home, both during work and in the evenings, I am constantly affected by the space around me. I am quite sensitive in that sense and the environment I am in really affects my mood. So it’s been very important to take the time to tidy up and declutter.
Now I have spent a little time every day decluttering a room or area and it is slowly getting better. My main priority was my home office space and room where I work and take photos. It’s incredibly hard to focus on work or feel creative when the space around me is messy. So I’ve put on some good music and danced around while cleaning to try and make it more enjoyable and attach a positive vibe to it. As soon as I feel how nice it is when it’s tidy in an area, it becomes easier to tidy another room and slowly the bad loop get’s broken up.
Getting more organised and clearing out the mind
I used to be a person that did bullet journaling, and I love it! But lately that has not been working out so well for me. I have gotten so many work requests where I need to check my calendar, or put it in my calendar – but because of bullet journaling that has required me to first draw the calendar before I can fill it in. That just has not worked and so I have not done that and instead tried to keep it all in my head.
Why I haven’t just put it in my Google Calendar? For some reason I am not a fan of digital calendars, I feel like actually writing things on paper help me solidify and remember things. Writing by hand also sparks some creativity in me.
So, this year I invested in two new calendars. A big one that I always keep on my desk and which gives me a good monthly overview. It also has space in the beginning to fill out goals for the year and what steps one can take towards making those goals happen. I also got a smaller one that is easier to bring along and that has a little space for journaling each week, so that I can keep some of the creative bullet journaling elements.
Hopefully I will find my way back to more sketching and painting soon as well. The hard part is to let go of the pressure I put on myself. I keep thinking that if I paint it needs to be good enough for me to share, or even put up in that print shop I keep planning to open up. But I need to paint just for me, just for the sake of slowing down with something hands on and creative. No one needs to see what I make. That thought is very challenging to come to terms with.
I am noticing that spring being around the corner is helping. It’s getting warmer and with the return of birds the choir outside my window is quite lovely. The days are also getting longer and the sun is reaching further into the house, creating lovely shadow plays on the wall that really get my inspiration going.
It’s okay to say no
This one is so hard, but so important. Working on saying no. I do not have the same social energy these days, and I need more slow and quiet time. But saying no to being with people you like or doing fun things is hard, but the reality is that things that are fun can still be tiring. And when you’re exhausted that’s not what you need. So listen to your body, trust that gut feeling – if you say yes to things “because you should” but have a nagging feeling you don’t want to, then don’t. You are allowed to say no, and your friends and family will understand.
At the same time, this one is dangerous because if you say no to everything and shut yourself off at home completely; you won’t get better. So pick some smaller and easy going things to do that might not be so tiring, hang out with people you are comfortable around and where you feel that you can sit in their company and do nothing. And say no to bigger things that require more time and effort; No one knows you better than yourself, and only you will know what types of things would be good for you, and what to abstain from. This is all very different for everyone.
For example, I was supposed to head out for a three day event with a brand I am an ambassador for. I was to meet and socialise with staff from the brand as well as other ambassadors. Dinner, sauna and a snow shoe hike the next day. But I also had to spend half a day traveling to get there, and half a day to get back. It all just felt like too much and on the morning of my departure, as I was packing the last few things, I started crying all of a sudden. I did not want to go and my body was telling me this. I fought it off, but then could not find my wallet (my memory isn’t as good since I hit the wall) and missed my train. I know there’s no such thing, but it felt like universe was like “there, now you don’t have to go”. And so I didn’t.
Now I just need to work hard on keeping a healthy, positive mindset around the fact that I stayed home. It’s easy to fall into the hole of FOMO, worrying about all that I am missing out on and that I should have gone. I cannot change my decision and so I need to accept and move on. There will be more events and opportunities, and hopefully by resting now I will have more energy for them in the future.
Important: Be kind to yourself
Caring for oneself when you’re in a slump or you’ve hit the wall is hard. I started writing this post weeks ago and at that time I had a good routine going. But then something happened, I feel out of it and have not really done any of these things for a while. I’m feeling worse again and like I’ve taken a few steps back, so I need to start this all over and try again. But I am trying to go easy on myself. No one is perfect, and I won’t be drinking kefir or doing my evening routine every day, and that is okay. As long as I am not constantly excusing not doing things, it’s fine. I definitely don’t need to stay on top of it all the time. That will just make caring for me stressful and feed the negative loop. Small steps a little at a time.
Have you struggled with exhaustion or being burnt out? I’d love hear what steps you took to get out of it. Maybe you’re there right now, if so – how are you doing and what are your thoughts on all of this?