1. Let go of perfectionism
A lot of overachievers develop perfectionist tendencies at a young age when demands on their time are limited to school, hobbies and maybe an after-school job. It’s easier to maintain that perfectionist habit as a child, but as you grow up, life gets more complicated. As you climb the ladder at work and as your family grows, your responsibilities increase. Perfectionism becomes out of reach, and if that habit is left unchecked, it can become destructive.
The key to avoid burning out is to let go of perfectionism. As life gets more expanded it’s very hard, both neurologically and psychologically, to keep that habit of perfection going. Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, in her book The Office Survival Guide, emphasises that the healthier option is to strive not for perfection, but for excellence.
2. Switch Off
From social media to programs that make your work and life easier, technology has helped our lives in many ways. But it has also created expectations of constant accessibility. For many the work day never seems to end.
“There are times when you should just shut your phone off and enjoy the moment,” says Robert Brooks, a professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence and Personal Strength in Your Life.
Brooks outlines that phone notifications interrupt your down time and inject an undercurrent of stress in your system. He advises us to make quality time true quality time. By not reacting to the updates from work, you will build a stronger habit of resilience feel a greater sense of control over your life.
3. Meditate and Exercise
One of our most crucial needs - exercise - is often the first thing to go when our calendars fill up. Exercise is an effective stress reducer. It pumps feel-good endorphins through your body. It helps lift your mood and can even serve a one-two punch by also putting you in a meditative state, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Dedicating at least 3 blocks of time each week for your own self care, whether it’s physical exercise or meditation is critical to your overall health and wellness. And if you’re really pressed for time, start small with deep breathing exercises during your commute, a quick five minute meditation session morning and night, or replacing drinking alcohol with a healthier form of stress reduction.
4. Limit time-wasting activities and people
First, identify what’s most important in your life and make sure it reflects your priorities, not someone else’s. Second, establish firm boundaries so you can devote quality time to these high-priority people and activities.
From there, it will be easier to determine what needs to be trimmed from the schedule. For example it may mean turning off email notifications and replying in batches during limited times each day. And if you find your time being consumed by people who are less constructive, find ways to diplomatically limit these interactions. Focus on the activities and individuals that reward you the most.
5. Change the structure of your life
Sometimes we fall into a rut and assume our routines are set in stone. Take a eagle-eye view of your life and ask yourself the question: What changes could make life easier?
Rather than trying to do it all on one swoop, start small and build from there. For example, focus on activities you specialise in and value most. Delegate or outsource the remainder. This can be a win-win situation says Professor Stewart Freidman, author of Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life. It frees you up so you may devote attention to your higher priorities whilst providing new learning opportunities for those you delegate to.
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