Monday, February 2, 2015

Finding your Balance

Burnout.  It happens.  No matter if its during the holiday season, the start of a new job/workout program or just plain old going too long without taking an actual vacation (you know, one where you don't answer your email or phone).  You feel like you are loosing control.  Probably because you are.

There have been a few times in my life, even this past year switching jobs when I almost hit a wall.  For me personally it comes as a time when I loose track of when I last slept/ate.  The days blend together.  

I was training for a marathon in September (my second) which made everyday an early morning one where I put in all those long runs.  I had also switched jobs.  We had just opened a brand new fitness club and a typical workday I'd be up at 4:30am and not get back home till 4pm.  There were days when my cat rebelled by leaving me a "present" in retaliation, but I keep going since these were the demands of my career.  When it really hit me though was the moment I looked at the time clock and saw how many hours I'd worked in the past two weeks.  Let's just say it was more than two digits worth.  

I forgot what it was like to have real fun and to let go of my job.  My brain was constantly in "work mode".  My life consisted of work, running and trying to keep my head on straight.  I forgot to put some of that energy into other places like my personal relationships, painting my nails or picking a new recipe to try for dinner.  Don't get me wrong, I love my career and I love to run but too much of a good thing leaves no time for anything else.  My perfectionist self had booked up all my hours to be productive.  A typical day off looked like this:

6am- wake up/eat snack, get ready for my run
7am- long run of 10+ miles depending on the day
10:45am- done w/run, snack and change clothes
11:15am- attend hour yoga class
12:30pm- grocery shop
2pm- eat dinner, prep my food for the work week
5pm- check emails while watching TV 
6pm- shower, do laundry
9pm- bedtime

Before noon I'd accomplished more than the average person.  It felt exhilarating.  Yet somehow I'd forgotten that with taking time to relax and reflect we are better able to give of ourselves (especially being in the service industry) which makes us more productive in the long run.  

First I went to stock up on my supplements, aromatherapy soaps, and lots of pet supplies to let my cat know he hadn't been neglected.  Than I created a new routine:

  1. Each morning I started my day with some deep breathing and took a moment to be positive about the day ahead  
  2. I made it a point to sit down to eat each meal mindfully and actually schedule in a lunch break
  3. When I left work I mentally gave myself permission to not respond to email or my phone unless it was an emergency
  4. I planned out some fun me time like my monthly massage, lunch with a friend and bowling with my parents 
My client would understand I was busy.  There was no reason to overbook myself anymore.  Clearly that wasn't working out well.  My new plan helped create more balance to my busy days and let my mind take a break.
I have come to realize there is a reason why people enjoy sleeping in on the weekend.  It isn't because they are lazy.  It's actually really nice not to wake up to an alarm clock everyday.  When you do wake up you know your body got all the rest it required.  There is also something peaceful about not checking your phone or email every chance possible.  It makes me less stressed or anxious.  They invented an answering machine and an email automated response for a reason.  I am now allowed to be me outside of work hours again.  

So this year I encourage you to create big goals and change the world in a way you are passionate about.  However, make sure to not loose sight of what is really important.  Savor the simple moments and take all your vacation days because you deserve it!  

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