Ever pushed yourself way too hard too fast for too long?
You know the feeling. You’re sailing high full of energy—whether it’s natural energy from a great group of people, inspiring work, an invigorating workout, or a beautiful environment, or it’s unnatural energy from stimulants, caffeine, too much sugar, or whatever people do these days to crack out.
You feel good so you go, go, go, and push, push, push. It works well for a while. You may encounter a couple red flags along the way, telling you to slow down, but you ignore them. “No,” you think, “I don’t need to stop just yet. I can make it just a little longer.”
Then, you fall chest-deep into a hole in the sidewalk and bruise your ribs and chest, completely knocking out your breath. Or you get into a bike accident. Or car accident. You get a cold or the flu. You break a bone or get a concussion. Insert any obvious wake-up call from the universe to slow the F*** down and sit on your bum to regroup for a while.
Each time something like this happens, I get a little better at damage control, reducing healing time, and promoting recovery. First, comes AWARENESS, then comes BEHAVIOR CHANGE.
Below I have outlined what works for me when I need to bounce back from bodily burn out. Of course, if your burn out is extensive and requires medical attention or other professional help, please honor that. The steps below are meant to empower you in terms of what you can do on your own.
1. Realize I am burning out.
This has become second nature to me. I see the signs: I am tired constantly, reaching for food when not hungry, am dehydrated, achy, more susceptible to illness of any kind, have temperature regulation issues, moody, and not inspired to do any kind of work or anything remotely demanding or unpleasant. I am more susceptible to obsessive thinking and spiraling into negative thought and behavior patterns.
2. Recognize the need to rest.
This, my friends, is also quite simple. When I notice the signs described above, I know I am in need of more sleep, rest, and straight up chilling. I know I need less movement and less physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding tasks. But there are always so many reasons I can use to rationalize the desire and compulsion to keep going full speed ahead. These are BS!
3. Hold the appropriate amount of space for myself to rest.
This is the tricky part. This is when I have observed that the signs have remained and aren’t going anywhere unless I make some changes. My tendency is to notice all the signs, and not adjust my activity level enough. For example, I notice that my energy is low during the day, so I start going to bed earlier, but I do not adjust the amount of physical activity I am doing during the day. Alternatively, I’ll think I didn’t really do all that much during the day, so I stay up too late connecting socially, reading, watching something, etc.
It’s important for me to match the amount of rest I give myself to the amount I need. If I need a lot more sleep and a lot less activity during the day, then I gotta oblige. I can keep putting it off, but I’ll just have to rest and recover for longer and potentially nurse more extensive burnout later on.
4. Tune into what my body needs in terms of physical nourishment.
I may need to juice cleanse or water fast for a while. I may need to keep eating normally but hydrate more. Maybe I need to stick to a lowfat fruit-based raw vegan diet.
Lately, I have been having digestive issues of the diarrhea and unintentional cleansing type, so I have been rehydrating with lots of water to replace lost fluids. I’ve been drawn to simple, grounding foods like potatoes, bread, and noodles. I notice how my body responds to different foods and drinks, and adjust accordingly. Just because my mind likes the idea of one diet best over all others, doesn’t mean it’s what my body needs 100% of the time. It would be nice if it were 😉
5. Give myself the kind of connection and space I need.
What I mean here will vary based on your personality type and social needs. For introverts like me, when I’ve been around a lot of people (as I have while traveling) and connecting a lot socially, I may need more alone time. Alternatively, if I’ve been a bit isolated and down, I may need to reach out to close friends and soul family for support and encouragement.
6. Attend to my spirit.
The soul is the conduit for true healing. When I am totally burned out, I know it’s time to plug into the light, ask for healing, and allow pure positive vibrations to do what no person, place, substance, or anything material can do. For me this looks like meditation, visualization, mantra, chanting, spiritual music, contemplation, journaling, time with my crystals, and/or booking bodywork or energy healing sessions.
7. Feed my mind with a good book, uplifting video or film, podcast, audio, etc.
It’s important for me to have something to focus on other than how crappy I feel! Lately, I have enjoyed reading The Celestine Prophecy, a spiritually based novel by James Redfield, and Many Lives Many Masters, a clinical account of past life regression by Brian Weiss, M.D. My go-to podcast is Divine Throughline with Julie Piatt. Feel free to reach out for more suggestions on what I like to watch and read.
8. Gradually, reintegrate more activity into my schedule.
I am learning to get myself back in the game at a more incremental pace. Previously, I just threw myself back into busy-ness full throttle, but that has not served me.
For example, the other day, I went into town, and found myself completely nauseated, fatigued, and obliterated by the heat, smells, and sounds of the city. I immediately went back to my hotel to rest. Although my mind was ready to explore this amazing place I am in, my body was clearly not up for it. I gave myself another day of bed rest before venturing out again with the intention to take it easy and only hang out in cafes and cool places where I can sit, relax, and do computer work.
I hope these 8 experience-based suggestions will help inspire you to meet your needs and care for yourself the next time you are experiencing burn out. My biggest tip is to stay connected to your body, and honor the red flags sooner rather than later.
Had I heeded my need for rest and digestive rehabilitation sooner, I may not have fallen in that hole! But had I not fallen in that hole, I probably wouldn’t have totally pampered myself, checked into a 5-star resort, and felt replenished and inspired enough to write this post for y’all! There’s my silver lining for ya 😉