Avoiding Burnout

Life can be stressful. If you're like me, you can lose yourself in endless 'to-do' lists, working hard and feeling that there's no end in sight. In short, you let life stress build until you reach the point of burnout. But it doesn't have to be that way. Here are fifteen tips for keeping your sanity and avoiding burnout.

1. Get enough sleep. Most of us need more sleep. We know adequate sleep is beneficial in a variety of ways, yet most of us still don't get enough. Life can get crazy and busy, but make sleep a priority. Sleep is a foundation for everything else.

2. Exercise. Before I exercise, I think of a million excuses and try to avoid it, but once I've done it, I feel energized and good! Remember that feeling right after you exercise and make a habit of exercising at least 15 minutes a day, no matter what. You'll thank yourself.

3. Spend time with the important people. My husband and family mean everything to me. I make it a priority to spend time with them, because being with them makes me feel good. Who are the people who do that for you? Spend quality time with them.

4. Laugh. Laughter truly is the best medicine. Laughing, even if it is fake, relieves stress and improves your mood. If I don't find something to laugh at during the day, my husband and I will do a session of 'laughing', which starts as fake laughter but becomes real by the end as we listen to how ridiculous we sound!

5. Make self-care a top priority. Do you attend to everyone's needs before your own? Women are especially good at putting other's needs first. Putting yourself first isn't selfish, and doesn't preclude you from helping others; it just ensures your needs are met so you don't burn out.

6. Prioritize your values.
Do you know what is truly important to you? If not, take some quiet time and find out. If you do know, are you spending your time on these things?

7. Cut out non-essentials. Once you know what your values are, it is important to trim away the excess tasks and appointments from your life. You can't do everything (even if you think you can!), so do the important things and let go of the rest.

8. Delegate (aka avoiding perfectionism). I struggle with perfectionism, and as a result do many tasks myself rather than delegate them to others. But this strategy leads straight to burnout. Delegate the things that should be delegated, and give yourself a break from perfectionism!

9. Make time to relax. Everyone wants more relaxation time, but many of us aren't getting it. Take a step back in your day to rest, ponder, contemplate, and enjoy a quiet moment. It doesn't take much time, but it adds peace and reduces your stress.

10. Go and do! If you procrastinate, odds are you feel stress because of tasks hanging over your head. Just start one of those tasks, and you may be surprised -- doing the task probably isn't as bad as the thought of doing the task! And doing something (anything) helps you feel more in control of the situation.

11. Say no. I'm a people pleaser. I don't like to say 'no' to people, especially if it's a friend or coworker. But saying no can be liberating! There are always things that vie for our time -- but if they don't add value to your life, why do them?

12. Avoid multi-tasking. I am raising my hand here -- yes, I multi-task. But I also admit it isn't effective. By focusing on one task at a time, you avoid making needless mistakes, you don't have to remember multiple things at once, and you save time. I'll stop multi-tasking if you will.

13. Plan your day ahead of time. Whether you plan each night or set aside time every morning, a little planning goes a long way. In your planning session you can choose your most important tasks to accomplish, pull together any supplies you may need for the day, and make sure your calendar is in order.

14. Live in the now. Thinking about the future (especially worrying about the future) does not help. Live in the here and now -- enjoy what you are doing; fully engage in the world around you. If you can, observe a small child -- children are experts at living in the now.

15. Don't waste time on regret or guilt. The past is the past -- you can't change it. Make peace with someone or fix a mistake if you can, but once you've corrected mistakes that need correcting, let them go. Dwelling on it doesn't change the past, doesn't make you less likely to do it in the future (probably the opposite), and just makes you feel bad in the present. Let the past go; set yourself free from guilt.