Life moves at an incredibly fast pace. We are constantly pulled in multiple directions — by the demands of our jobs, our families, our social obligations and so much more. It’s common for us to look back at the past weeks or months and realize they have passed in a blur.
Without taking time to slow down, be mindful, and take care of ourselves, not only do we lose out on making meaningful memories, we are also susceptible to chronic stress and burnout.
Discovering how to respond to these experiences and proactively prevent them in the future is critical for your mental health and wellbeing. Let’s talk about how we can avoid chronic stress & burnout and build positive habits to keep us feeling energized & full!
One of our favorite metaphors we use at Simply Bee when talking about stress and burnout is this: you have to fill up your cup before you can fill up others. The water in said ‘cup’ symbolizes your energy level — when it’s full, you’re feeling purposeful and energized, but when it’s empty you feel stressed, exhausted and anxious.
Let’s play a scenario out and see if it resonates…
You wake up at 7:00am after a rough night’s sleep.
You immediately get your day started with prepping dinner in the crockpot and then a few errands before work.
You have a full day of meetings and your boss stops by to ask if you can help with a big project that has a quick deadline - you have tons on your plate but agree to help because you’re up for a promotion in a few months.
You skip your lunch to squeeze in extra working time because you have to leave on time to grab the kids from school.
After dropping one off at dance and then heading to practice with the other, you commit to a couple of work and personal things via email and text while sitting in the car.
Home for a quick family dinner and then you spend the rest of the night making sure homework is done, showers are taken, backpacks and clothes are ready for tomorrow.
After you get the kids to bed you check your email again, respond to a few more texts and finally fall asleep on the couch.
This day-to-day routine can leave you feeling productive, but also increasingly overwhelmed — because the water is just dumping from your cup all day. While it may feel manageable in the moment, this pattern of giving to others without giving back to yourself starts to chip away at your long-term energy.
This slow process can be hard to notice. Oftentimes, we don’t recognize it until we reach a breaking point of burnout, feeling completely depleted, lashing out at loved ones and leaving tasks unfinished. Because of the slow build, these outburst often feel like they “came out of nowhere.”
The trick to preventing burnout is to learn how not to dump out all the water just because you have it when the day starts. Ideally, you want to end the day with as much water as you start with by refilling your cup along the way. The rule is that when you dump water out, you need to make sure to pause and add water back in.
Let’s talk about a few simple ways that you can start to get water back in your cup. The more you can incorporate these strategies into your daily routine, the better you can protect yourself from stress and burnout.
Building awareness of some current habits is a great first step in identifying areas that you can focus on to quickly decrease stress. Start by asking yourself these questions:
These are all foundational actions for combatting stress and burnout. We encourage you to check in on these things each day & set a goal to achieve them consistently!
You can also check in on your stress level throughout the day. Think about stress like static on a radio. A low-level tone can wash away into the background and likely not dramatically impact your day-to-day life. Much of the time, you probably don’t notice it at all.
If your static is increasing, then you are likely to become irritable, frustrated, and more negative. If you are aware of your stress & stress indicators in your mind and body, you can notice the static as it’s increasing and be able to correlate the stress with preceding events — before you reach a breaking point.
Throughout the day, rate your ‘static’ on a scale of 1-100. If you notice your static is high, make a plan for how to bring it down before you proceed with your day. The more you do this, the more intuitive and automatic it will become and the less susceptible you’ll be to emotional outbursts!
While it’s important to take proactive steps to prevent burnout, it’s also important to have a plan for what to do if you do find yourself in this place of emotional exhaustion. When you are experiencing burnout, it can feel even more draining to have to figure out how to get yourself out of it. That’s why coping ahead in this way is so powerful — you can prepare while you are feeling energized and take the burden off of yourself in moments when you do feel depleted.
Here are some questions to help you create your plan:
Check out this month’s resource to create your own!
The best way to prevent chronic stress and burnout is to never let your cup run dry. When we don’t give ourselves enough water (metaphorically, and maybe literally too), we become overwhelmed by life’s demands and start to lose purpose and joy. Identify the things in your life, big or small, that refuel you and ensure you build enough of them into your day to keep your cup full. You deserve it!