While we pride ourselves into thinking we can do it all, we often ignore the signs our body gives us when we need to slow down. Whether it’s working on a big project, taking care of children, preparing for exams, or even balancing the different aspects of our lives, there are times where we need to sit back and take a break. But, when? When do we take our breaks? What signs do we look out for to prevent jeopardizing our mental and physical health?
Stress and Anxiety
Two symptoms or signs that indicate burnout are excessive stressing or feelings of anxiety. It’s difficult, however, to simply stop and reflect on hints of burnout when focusing on finishing a goal or task. With outside pressures, deadlines, expectations, and responsibilities it appears easier to keep going until everything is accomplished. Taking a head-on approach isn’t always the best option as we ignore self-care prioritizing everything else but ourselves.
With personal experience dealing and healing from high functioning anxiety in college, I was forced to learn signs of burnout and methods to ease stress. Because stress triggered my anxiety quickly, I learned to identify what I needed to improve in order to feel more in control, energized and calm. Self-awareness played a huge role in understanding what next steps I must take to better care for my physical and mental health.
Stress and anxiety can be all-encompassing; therefore the more aware we are of how our body responds will help us practice better self-care.
A quick self-awareness checklist will help to identify issues while experiencing burnout as I did.
Here are some questions to ask when feeling overworked, overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious:
- How do I feel today?
- Am I easily agitated or frustrated?
- Do I feel a lack of control?
- How’s my mental health overall? Do I feel depressed, worried, worthless, or down on myself?
- Is my mood frequently fluctuating?
- Do I want to be around others?
- Did I eat breakfast/lunch/dinner?
- When was the last time I showered?
- How many hours did I sleep?
- Do I feel tired or drowsy?
- Do I have recurring pain, headaches, muscles aches, or fatigue?
- How’s my memory? Do I find myself forgetting a lot of my daily tasks?
- Am I leaving assignments, responsibilities, or tasks for the last minute (procrastination)?
- Is my workspace/home disorganized and difficult to navigate?
- Do I have frequent nausea, stomach pain, racing thoughts, clammy hands, or inability to focus (some anxiety symptoms)?
Establishing mental, emotional, and physical signs can help in understanding what aspect of self-care needs prioritizing.
What to Do Next?
Self-care looks different for each and every one of us. Because we are triggered differently by stress, so are our limits. Some people can endure more stress while others are easily overwhelmed, like me. What we do to improve our mental, emotional, and physical well-being are determined by what eases our anxiety and stress and helps us to gain control, calmness, and focus.
Self-care can look like:
- Going for a run
- Exercising/going to the gym
- Drinking tea
- Sleeping in
- Taking a mental health day
- Watching a favorite movie
- Eating a favorite snack/meal
- Seeing a therapist
- Practicing mindfulness breathing
- Listening to music
- Talking to loved ones
- Going on a trip/taking a vacation
- Visiting nature
- Cleaning/decluttering spaces
- Working on a creative project
Whatever self-care method is best will help ease the symptoms of burnout. Our main goal is to regain focus and energy.
Burnout is common in our fast-paced technology-driven society. Slowing down and prioritizing ourselves is an important step in becoming more self-aware and conscious about our well-being. Whether it’s taking a break or pacing ourselves accordingly, we must learn to balance our work with our self-care in order to become effectively productive in our day to day tasks.
Nina is a Latina from Brooklyn, NY who struggles with depression and anxiety. She finds refuge and healing through her writing since she graduated from college in 2016. Nina writes to spread awareness and hope to those who struggle with their mental health silently. She also strives to motivate and encourage self-acceptance. She enjoys creating creative and uplifting content on her blog SparklyWarTanks.com where she shares her experiences, notes, poems, quotes, and articles