Oh no, it’s happening again.
You’ve taken on too much for too long and now you’re suffering the consequences. Shortness in breath. Unable to focus. Tense shoulders. Restless nights.
It’s exhausting, isn’t it?
Struggling just to make it home at the end of the day while simultaneously navigating through a mental haze.
If this has happened to your more often than you would like, then you’re one of the many hardworking but overworked people, myself included.
I remember one particular college semester where I tried to do it all and failed spectacularly. I was enrolled as a full-time student, hustling as a part-time employee, working as a part-time intern, AND studying for the LSAT to be admitted into law school. Oh yeah, and there was also a home and relationship to maintain.
No problem. Everything will work out … Right?
The result? Poor work and school performance, a cranky fiancé (me), paying $200 to reschedule my LSAT at the last minute because it obviously wasn’t working out and my favorite: the much anticipated three-five anxiety attacks per week.
Not my favorite semester, to say the least.
I offer my story as a cautionary tale for what not to do. Rather, I propose the following tips to ensure that you’re still mindful of your health while you pursue whatever goals you have set for yourself.
First things first: admit it.
“I’m more than tired. I’m burned out.”
The first step in resolving an issue is recognizing that there is an issue to begin with. Are you unusually irritable? Trouble focusing? Eating too little? Or maybe too much? These are signs from your body that you need to take it easy and recharge. Take a moment to really listen to what your body is telling you and do your best to take care of it moving forward.
Although, easier said than done, right?
I get it. It can be so easy to get swept up in the daily hustle: working, studying, being a good partner. Then there’s the exercise and proper nutrition. If you’re like I was, I would just tell myself to suck it up and power my way through it.. That you would take it easy later.
However, I was also justifying my three-five anxiety attacks per week. My health was suffering. I was constantly anxiety-wracked and was eating my way through the stress. Don’t be like me. Take care of yourself.
What matters to you? Do away with the rest.
The reality is that you really can’t do it all. At least not all at the same time. Although smart time management certainly helps, it is not the all-encompassing solution.
Try this: do less. Specifically, do less meaningless stuff that clutters up your schedule to do more big-ticket items that progresses your goals.
Doing less requires for you to have an honest conversation with yourself about what your values and priorities align with your intermediate and long-term goals. Discard the “fluff” from your To-Do lists. Stick to one-two big and meaningful tasks per day and don’t sweat it if there are minor tasks leftover.
You got the important stuff done. Good job.
Time for a break
In The Four Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss describes how people stockpile their vacation days for one big vacation per year. This requires grinding through long periods without mindful breaks which can build up stress and eventually lead to burning out.
Rather, Ferriss proposes a more sustainable and possibly healthier alternative: take several shorter mini-vacations throughout the year to regularly rejuvenate your body and mind.
If several mini-vacations seems too daunting to you, go small by simply taking a mental health day at least once a month. This is something that I’ve started doing and enjoying! I must admit that these days off offer precious nuggets of time that are so helpful in recovering from the daily grind.
Also, when I say mental health day, I mean that: take care of your mental health. No catching up on errands. No checking email at home. No cleaning your home. Indulge yourself with a nap. Take the dogs for a walk. Spa day? Why not! Enjoy yourself.
Relaxing and chasing your goals go hand-in-hand
The downside of a culture that praises the workaholics and the busybodies is that it constantly reminds us that we should always be doing something. Overworking yourself can become an insidious cycle that becomes so easy to slip into unnoticed. Don’t let it go too far to the point where you’re burning out and now your health is compromised.
Break away from this and give yourself permission to relax without guilt.
Downtime is not laziness. Downtime is necessary. Relaxing is necessary. Taking care of yourself is necessary. Drop the guilt over prioritizing yourself and your health.
If you’re ambitious with superb goals, that is awesome! I am 100% supportive of you and your dreams. At the same time, I hope that you pursue your health and happiness with the same determination that you do when chasing your goals.
Work hard. Do awesome things. And remember: take it easy.
Dan Recio loves sharing tips on how to build a meaningful life that aligns with your goals at Motivationalist.net. Get started with his personalized list: 30 YouTube Channels Guaranteed to Motivate You.
Image courtesy of Eutah Mizushima.