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Permission to Pause: How to Practice Self-Care to Avoid Burnout

When climbing the corporate ladder, it can feel impossible to maintain a sustainable work-life balance. You’re passionate about what you do but often find yourself chasing the next big achievement at the expense of your personal time, because you’re eager to climb the next rung. Part of the problem is that you’re likely fueled by the adrenaline of achievement. While this adrenaline rush has helped catapult you towards success, it isn’t sustainable to maintain over the long-term. Developing a self-care practice can help you refuel to stay motivated and avoid burn-out. Here are five simple yet effective steps to get started:

1. Shift your perspective on what it means to rest.

What are your beliefs about rest? Does the mere mention of the word make you cringe? For many of us ego-driven do-ers, rest has a bad rep. We see it as a sign of defeat. An indication that we didn’t have the stamina to persevere in the pursuit of our accomplishments.

But therein lies the root of the problem - rest is not for the weak. It’s actually easier to get caught within the busyness of life than to erect the necessary boundaries to tune in to your needs. Giving yourself permission to slow down often requires more strength than persevering does. It’s like Newton’s First Law of Motion: “An object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

It begins with letting go of the belief that you have to constantly hustle to be successful. While at times it may feel like it, you are not responsible to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You are one person and can only do so much. It’s difficult but, try to instead embrace the belief that slowing down is essential to speeding up.

2. Discover what fills your cup.

When life gets too busy, it can leave you feeling emotionally, mentally, and physically depleted. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to do everything that you want to do AND to do it all well. You get anxious about the quality of your output so you start to rob yourself of your personal time to ensure that you’re delivering the best quality that you can. But when you try to draw back, a new fear creeps in - will they think that I’m delivering enough? And suddenly you’re stuck in a catch 22: do you allow a few balls to drop and run the risk of being judged by your colleagues and clients or do you sacrifice your sanity and soldier on?

If you’re at the point where you feel like you have nothing left to give - that’s your body’s way of communicating to you that it’s time to slow down and fill your cup.

To fill your cup means to replenish your mental, emotional and physical states of being. How you do that is unique to you. What self-care activities help you recharge?

Here are some ideas to figure out what works well for you:

  • Breathe deeply

  • Take a bath

  • Read a book for pleasure

  • Spend time outdoors

  • Take a 24 hour digital detox

  • Sing in the shower

  • Take a nap

  • Cook a nice meal

  • Watch your favourite show

  • Do an intense workout

  • Write yourself a love letter

  • Listen to a podcast

  • Spend time with family

  • Clean your living space

  • Put on a face mask

  • Get a massage

  • Create a gratitude list

  • Practice yoga

  • Drink a glass of water

  • Buy yourself flowers

  • Go to the gym

  • Call someone you love

  • Eat a healthy meal

  • Listen to a guided meditation

  • Plan a date night

  • Pick up a new hobby

  • Create a vision board