After being recognized as an official medical diagnosis by the World Health Organization in 2019, experiencing burnout has increasingly become part of the growing conversation around the importance of self-care. In our current age of glorifying the nonstop hustle, many of us have been experiencing endless exhaustion, a debilitating lack of motivation, and emotional detachment. While there is a larger, important discussion about societal pressures and work-life balance to be had, we wanted to give you some actionable tips to help you prevent stress and burnout right now in your daily life. It’s all about carving out a bit of space – for both your mental health and physical health – and ultimately for yourself.
Rest is Productive
Okay, take a second and read that again. REST IS PRODUCTIVE. Now take a deep, slow breath, and smile as you breathe out. Rest isn’t lazy, shameful, or wasteful. The bottom line is that you can’t give clients your best self if you aren’t actually operating as your best self. Emotional exhaustion is real and you only have so much capacity – so recognize your boundaries and respect them and occasionally take a break from work. You’ll thank yourself later.
Though meditation isn’t a cure-all, it can be incredibly effective when you’re feeling signs and symptoms of being overwhelmed or overworked. It’s also a simple (and free) way to carve out some quiet time for yourself each day. Benefits of meditation include stress reduction, mental clarity, better sleep, emotional regulation, and a longer attention span. So whether you have free time, whether it’s ten minutes or a full hour, incorporating any form of meditation into your routine can hugely impact your quality of life.
For relaxation and mental acuity, try one of the following two types of meditation:
- Focused-attention meditation: Concentrating on a single object, thought, sound, or visualization that helps you to rid your mind of distraction.
- Open-monitoring meditation: Allowing you to become aware of thoughts and feelings you might otherwise work to suppress.
Try both to see which works better for you. If you’re already an experienced practitioner of one style, try switching up your routine and incorporating the other style. You may find you gain different benefits from each style. If you are just starting out, there are many apps, podcasts, and YouTube videos that can help. You can even search “Meditation for entrepreneurs” or “Meditation for work stress” to find a directed practice to help with whatever you’re feeling.
Did you know that you don’t even have to be sitting still to meditate? Walking meditations are some of our favorites. Get outside, set an easy pace, and count your steps in sets of 10. Pay attention to the sensation of walking; feel your heel, then arch, then toes touching the ground. Imagine the earth being pushed behind you with each step. Focus on the sounds you hear, then shift your focus to smells. If your mind wanders, gently guide it back to an awareness of your surroundings. Other activities can also be just as meditative: gardening, jigsaw puzzling, cooking, eating, cleaning, crafting, and coloring. As long as you are breaking down the tasks, engaging your senses, and tuning into your body, you can turn many different activities into a chance to practice self-care.
Create Your Zen Den
If you are going the more traditional meditation route, the right setting can make all the difference to whether you zen out or zone out. We like to call this space a zen den; a safe, comfortable space that is yours to unwind in. This might be your bedroom, office, or even a walk-in closet – any space that allows you to shut the door, turn off the lights, and disconnect from the world for a moment. Depending on what calms you, a zen den’s vibe will vary from person to person. Much like meditating, consider your senses. What do you want your space to smell, sound, feel, and look like?
The following items can be helpful when you want to flip that metaphorical switch and transform your everyday space into a place for calm reflection. Just make sure you flip any electronics to silent, turn off work emails and shut out social media before slipping into zen mode.
- A Bluetooth speaker: This is a good way to block outside noise from interrupting your chill. Use it to play music, white noise, relaxing sounds, or a guided meditation.
- Essential oil diffuser: If you aren’t sensitive to scents, aromatherapy can be incredibly soothing. From valerian to lavender and chamomile to jasmine, there are so many oils to choose from; all with different benefits and properties
- A comfy pillow, mat, or chair: Whether you’re meditating or doing a meditative activity, you want to be as comfortable as possible. Be kind to your body, as well as your mind.
- Candles: Sometimes you don’t want a lot of light. The illumination of a flame perfectly sets a relaxing mood while personalizing and warming your space.
- Himalayan salt lamp: Advocates of salt lamps say they have a host of benefits from cleaning the air, soothing allergies, and even boosting your mood and assisting with better sleep. They also cast a soft light that can be perfect for helping you drift off into a deep meditation.
- Plants: Potted plants can also improve air quality, making it easier to breathe. And even the act of tending to them can be meditative in and of itself.
Even more important than the setting of your zen den is making the time to go there. Don’t be overwhelmed – even 5-10 minutes a day can help you find some perspective, strength, and zen, that can last you for the rest of your day.
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