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Self-Care Tips to Counter Burnout and Fatigue

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By KATHERINE ALBERS  |  Moonshine Ink

Are you juggling a full-time job as well as picking up and dropping off the kids at events every weekend and after school? Do you find yourself spread thin because you are busy hosting family or calling contractors while stacking wood for the winter? Do you feel overwhelmed with trying to do it all?

You could be suffering from burnout. As defined in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, burnout is “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. It can also be combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.”

Stress and fatigue can creep up on us when we are overworked and run-down. We often ignore the early signs of burnout and exhaustion and keep pushing. I know that I can power through teaching classes, doing too many massages, cooking nutritious meals, and keeping my website and social media accounts up to date until I reach a breaking point. Then I get short with my friends and loved ones and recognize that I am not showing up 100 percent, not even 75 percent on some days.

Here are a few of the early signs of burnout and fatigue and what you can do to combat them:

• Insomnia: Not sleeping a full six to eight hours and waking up frequently because you can’t shut off your brain.

Tips: Turn off all devices at least one hour before bed, sleep with an eye mask, drink nighttime tea, and put your legs up a wall to drain excess energy, lactic acid, and fluids.

• Irritability: Being short, cranky, or impatient with family, friends, and coworkers.

Tips: Close your eyes, put your hands on your belly, and listen to soothing music. I recommend the Pandora station “Singing Bowls Radio.” Do this one when especially stressed. Take five minutes in a quiet place to just sit and breathe. Slow down your movements, slow down your breathing, slow down your driving, slow down your talking. The nervous system needs to reboot to allow your body to work more efficiently.

• Muscle Fatigue and Soreness: Having achy muscles throughout the whole body, even if you haven’t done anything physical in weeks.

Tips: Take a tennis ball to work and sit on it to increase blood flow to your gluts, or put it up against a wall and roll it between your shoulder blades. With loose fists tap down your thighs, hips, lower back, and shoulders. This brings blood to the surface and flushes the tissues with clean, fresh blood. Book a massage, take a bath, or go for a brisk walk. Do something for yourself.

• Jaw clenching: This happens mostly in REM sleep but also unconsciously during the day.

Tips: Open and close your jaw wide multiple times like you’re biting an apple. Do shoulder and neck rolls while seated to allow blood flow to the areas. Drop your ear to one shoulder to stretch your neck; repeat on the other side.

• Lack of Focus: Words just don’t come to you or you can’t remember what you said yesterday. You may experience a foggy feeling in your head and eyes.

Tips: According to proponents of environmental psychology, spending time in nature rather than human-made environments has three positive effects: it reduces stress, elevates mood, and improves cognitive performance.

Go for a walk during breaks or lunch hour. Go with friends, it’s energizing. Tap your fingers on your head like falling rain, then run your fingers through your hair, rubbing your scalp vigorously. Be sure to hydrate. When you start to feel sleepy, drink cold water in the middle of the day. Cold water leaves the stomach quicker, hydrating you faster, thus cooling your temperature down and burning more calories to warm you up. Go outside! I can’t stress this one enough. Fresh, clean air energizes our bodies. This is where I work out all of my mind chatter. I walk, hike, bike, swim, or just sit outside near running water.

So how do you begin to make a change if you are burnt out? Start by following these tips and redirect your time to do something good for yourself so you can be present for yourself and those around you. It’s never too late to start taking actions that will have lasting effects.

Katherine Albers is the owner of Roots Yoga & Bodywork in Truckee. She is an E-RYT 500 Prajna Yoga teacher, licensed massage therapist, and certified yoga life coach. For more information, contact her at (719) 293-4937 or visit rootsyoga.net.

 
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October 12, 2017