Is the first thought you have when you wake up in the morning “oh no, here we go again”?
You rapidly brush that from your mind as all the stuff you have to do takes over. There are kids to feed and dress, clients to keep happy, events to organise, a car to get serviced, groceries to buy, a never ending to-do list. And it’ll be the same story tomorrow. And the day after that too…
Are you tired, irritable, snappy? Does it all seem too much? Can you even remember the last time you really had fun? I mean proper, full-on fun – when you laughed so much you couldn’t stop?
Shattered, even if you have had a good night’s sleep?
That’s where I was a few weeks ago.
The worst thing of all is that I was so tired and stressed out I couldn’t face doing anything about it! On impulse, I happened to download Stress Proof Your Life by Elisabeth Wilson. The reviews said it had lots of really practical stress-busting tips you could do right now, so that didn’t seem like too much work. (The fact the Kindle version was free might have clinched the deal, too!)
It’s a great book, well worth checking out. But it one questionnaire in it told me if I didn’t sort myself out soon, I’d be in the doctor’s surgery. Scary.
It was time for action, and I thought I’d tell you about what I did because I bet I’m not the only mum approaching burnout.
I picked two things that I thought would make the biggest difference to me and that I could actually face doing:
1. Give yourself a break
It wasn’t practical for us to head off on holiday, but there are lots more ways you can give yourself a break on the spot.
I decided I had to take some pressure off myself. I gave myself permission to post less often than my 3-times-a-week routine here at Business Plus Baby, I scheduled a few weeks of posts upfront and I took a little time off the internet. That helped to give me some distance from everything I was doing and I was able to see my projects objectively. I had to drop a couple of projects because, when I was really honest with myself, I could see I didn’t have the time to do them justice.
The easiest thing in the world, if you’re running an internet business, is to work your butt off but make very little money. It takes focus, creativity and strategy to avoid this trap and that’s nigh-on impossible if you’re burned out.
There are other ways of giving yourself a break – allowing the family to eat convenience food for a few days (honestly, it won’t hurt them just for a few days…), going to bed really early for a week, stepping away from the computer and reading a good book. It doesn’t have to mean spending money, getting childcare or even leaving the house (although those are all good too).
It’s about changing your state of mind rather than your location!
Is it time you gave yourself a break too?
2. Clear some space
Groan….I don’t have time for that!
Well actually, step 1 helped me make some time at last.
In our house we had a monumental declutter – we set aside a week and got rid of years-worth of accumulated junk. It was the right thing for us, but but you don’t have to do it all at once.
Declutter what’s stressing you out the most. If it’s your wardrobe, tackle that. If it’s your inbox, start there. Once you’ve built up some momentum it’s easy to keep going and chuck out more junk.
One of the the things I needed to declutter was my diet. I got into bad eating habits during my first pregnancy (morning sickness so bad that I had to eat anything that would stay down) – four years and 2 babies later it was time to get back on track. Finally, I was going stop using chocolate to keep me going when I felt tired and fed up because that was getting to be at least twice a day!
As part of the massive declutter I threw out the last of my old work clothes. They were four years old, dusty and at least a dress size too small. It hurt because I was saying goodbye to a period in my life that has well and truly gone, the days when earning a living didn’t mean working around two small people. The days before I was carrying baby weight….but I’m hoping the healthy eating will fix that.
If this seems like a ton more work, well it isn’t really. If you’ve freed up a little time, you can do it instead of your normal to-do list, rather than as well as your to-do list.
And there’s a magic to decluttering: you feel like you’re regaining control, letting go, starting afresh.
Getting rid of the old makes space for the new to come in.
I’m feeling much better and thinking more clearly now. The challenge from now on is to make sure I don’t end up heading towards burnout again. Oh and finding new homes for all the stuff we actually decided to keep!
Please make me feel better and let me know I’m not alone in getting crispy around the edges (thanks to Nicki Cawood of Curly and Candid for that phrase – sums it up perfectly).