You’ve had a busy few weeks, you’re taking on extra work and seizing every opportunity that comes your way but to the expense of your mental health. Your body begins to slow down and tire, you’re finding it hard to concentrate, manage your time and when you try to rest, your mind is not at ease. Sound familiar? Your burnout is pending.
I’ve had a busy few weeks since the launch of my organisation, Black Geographers and I’ve found that my body and mind are screaming at me to slow down. I often forget that I’m only twenty and I try to do everything at once because I feel like I’m running out of time. I think social media has a lot to do with that feeling, being so young but feeling as though I need to have my life together, have bought my dream car and be hustling to get on Forbes 30 under 30 list. Everyone’s always talking about making millions and having multiple streams of income, investing in stocks, a 6-figure house deposit and I just want to teach and have a simple life. A simple life for me is working as a volcanologist, hazard and resilience management (or something similar but related to geography, of course) living in a standard home in central Manchester and being able to travel to various natural landforms e.g. Victoria Falls. I don’t have the desire to be rich, but I feel I’ve lost track of what I truly want from life and my vision has got caught up in social expectations and I’ve found myself overworking but for the wrong reasons.
I was watching Lydia Dinga’s recent Youtube video, ‘I bought my first car & grew edges in the same week’ and she mentioned that one of her goals for 2020 was to get verified on Instagram and asked what our goals were. It was at that moment that I realised that I’ve been so caught up with life that I have forgotten to sit down, look at my original goals, tick off the ones that I’ve achieved and set new goals. I’ve realised the importance of revisiting your goals, pinning them to the front of your notebook, pinboard or a place where you constantly see them so when you burnout is pending, you’re reminded about what is it you’re trying to achieve and you tailor your workload and what opportunities you’re saying yes to, to achieve said goals. Your passions shouldn’t burn you out, you should have energy and excitement to do the things that you want to achieve and not feel overwhelmed and tired by them.
Part of keeping your passion for your projects is learning how to say no and finishing a project before moving onto the next one. Hi, I’m Francisca and I find it hard to say no because I love helping people and offering my skills and resources to make their life easier but I am swamped with my own work and should tell people that I’m unable to help them at this time as I’m focused on my projects but it’s difficult. I’m in a strange limbo of wanting to say yes to every opportunity but also wanting to slow down and work harder on the projects I’m currently involved in. Learn to say no. It doesn’t make you incapable to say no and saying no doesn’t mean you will never get that opportunity or similar again, you can redirect it to someone you know who does have the time or mental capacity to take it on and that’s perfectly okay. You don’t have to do more to show that you’re working hard, it’s better to work on one thing and put all of your time and energy into making it your best work than taking on 5 projects that you’re only able to put half your time and energy into.
Along with the burnout bingo that I’ve attached to this week’s post, here are my tips on how to prevent burnout:
1. Admit that you’re not okay
Your body and mind will tell you that you’re close to burning out and you need to respond to it. Look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I’m not okay and I need to slow down, reduce my workload or take sick leave, annual leave or take a day off”
2. Create a schedule and stick to it
It’s one thing to write a schedule for the day and pencil in time to relax but its another thing to write a schedule, pencil in time to relax and actually relax. You can’t carry out your passion if you’re exhausted, you need to rest.
3. Know your breaking point
Will taking on this project overstretch you and take up too much of your time? Don’t take it. Will staying behind for an extra hour at work reduce the time you have scheduled to read your book? Tell your boss that you’re unable to stay behind and go home, you’re not a bad person for wanting to preserve your scheduled time and not being able to stay behind to help your team. Your mental health comes before anything and anyone.
I’m very active across social media because my opportunities mostly come from my social networking sites but I’ve forced myself to start unplugging outside of my working hours. My alarm goes off at 7 or 8 am every morning, instead of scrolling through Twitter, I roll out of bed, shower, eat breakfast and allow 1-2 hours to pass before I open Twitter. In the evening, I make sure to turn on my ‘out of office’ and leave my phone at my desk while I eat dinner, read or play Animal Crossing. I’ve also turned off notifications for emails and social networking sites on my phone so even when I’m chatting with friends, I won’t see what’s going on, on Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin etc so I can give them my full attention without being distracted.
Until next time,