I recently returned to work after a much needed week off. I have been “running hot” since last September and I literally made the mistake of not making time for myself to stop and relax. I had a few days off here and there to do things like routine doctor’s visits, holiday’s and a few other things but I literally failed to make time for myself. Not once did I set some actual quality time aside to disconnect and refocus. I’ve been completely burned out once before and I came darn close this time. The last time I actually took a week off for myself was at the end of August 2018 and the sole purpose of that time was my family and I moved. So yeah, that’s hardly a relaxing time off by any means.
About a month or so ago I started to feel exhausted and run down. I was beginning to experience some of the symptoms of burnout and it was approaching quickly. I just felt tired and completely drained, very hard to concentrate. Aside from the daily fatigue I was feeling achy most of the time, mostly my joints and began experiencing frequent headaches about 3 times week over a months span. So yeah, I was not feeling like my normal self.
Burnout is different for everyone. Some people can have it last for weeks at a time. It be literally nothing at one moment and then suddenly all at once or it can be something that gradually builds over time. For me it was something I didn’t see at first initially but it was slowly building and about to come on strong before I knew it I realized “man I need some time off” ASAP!
My goal with this blog article is simple. I want to share what I used to recover quickly in hope of helping someone else out there who might be feeling the same.
My Recovery Week Off
My recovery week off was actually amazing. My wife and I didn’t plan a vacation or anything because we didn’t really have time to plan for one. So it was a “staycation” for me. So how is staying home amazing you might ask? It was actually really good one!
My last day before my time off I set some goals for myself. I didn’t make one a priority over another as they were all equally important to me.
- I needed rest more than anything so I made sure I needed to be in bed at a specific hour every night.
- Eat clean, eat healthy.
- Exercise daily.
- Spend a lot of time with my wife and kids!
- I enjoy doing housework. I have a new home and like building things so I planned on getting my hands dirty!
I had to get my mind completely off of work for an entire week. It’s so easy to get sucked into checking email and what not given the fact our cell phones are nearly glued to our hip or palm these days. I made it a point to not touch or read anything associated with work, it can wait. I work with a great group of people on a great team. We all have each other’s backs more than anything working together and for when we need time away. So I knew my work related matters were in good hands. Friday evening I walked away from my work laptop and I didn’t touch it for nine straight days! I didn’t put it away, it simply sat there on my desk and collected dust! I even have an awesome VMware home lab that I like playing with and guess what…I didn’t touch that thing that entire week either!
- Sleep is so critical to allow your body time to repair, including your state of mind. Getting good quality sleep is very critical to avoiding stress and reducing chances of burnout. I had to get back into a better sleep routine with at least 8 hours of rest each night. Make sure you get ample rest but don’t over sleep.
- My diet during my time off was very important. A balanced breakfast and something a little different each day was exactly what I needed. More fresh fruit, juice, yogurt with granola, oatmeal, eggs, etc. all helped me get off to a good start each day. I love coffee in the morning and like some people out there, I cannot function some days without it. I was drinking probably too much coffee before my time off so I made sure I dialed back my consumption a bit. I also made it a point to start taking daily vitamins again. For lunch I tried to eat salads and for dinner I made a point to eat something different…at least one protein and two fresh steamed vegetables. Fish is great because Omega-3 fatty acids help with brain function and improve your mood among many other things.
- My wife and I recently purchased an elliptical machine and have it in our basement. If there is one investment we should all make for ourselves is setting aside the time to do some sort of exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Break a sweat! It helps tremendously when you’re trying to “get back on track” and stay healthy. It’s so easy to sit on the couch and watch TV, play with our phones, iPads, Kindles and so on these days. If we just take some of that time away by reallocating those minutes for exercise imagine how much better we will feel on a daily basis. It worked for me and I’m confident it’ll work for you too!
- I got creative with my housework which doesn’t always have to involve cleaning or straightening up. As I mentioned earlier I moved late last summer and with two toddlers it’s nearly impossible to be entirely unpacked HAHA! We still had quite a bit of things packed away in these large Tupperware totes in our garage. I like being organized, it’s just how my mind operates. So I made a garage project for myself. I went to the local hardware store, picked up some new tools, some wood and built a storage system in my garage from scratch. Now my garage is finally getting in order! A week after I built the storage system I decided to go back and start building a workbench for doing other things in the house. Being creative was a great way for me to get my mind on something else for a change.
I spent a lot of time with my wife and kids. They finally have a backyard to play in at our new home so we did a lot outside with the weather getting warmer and warmer each week as summer approaches. We took walks in the neighborhood, went to the zoo, visited a local “play place” for the kids to get some energy out. It was just a great week for all of us to spend time together and it actually gave my wife a chance to recharge a little too. She was able to catch up on some rest as well while I played with the kids. So my week of recharging actually helped her just as much as it helped me.
Another thing I did which I didn’t expect to do was visit a chiropractor during my week off. That visit surprised me more than anything because my doctor quickly found that my back and my neck were out of whack a little more than I expected. Before I could even tell him where I felt some discomfort he knew and asked me a few questions before I could even tell him…
- Have you been feeling sluggish lately and hard to focus on tasks?
- Have you been sleepless or feeling extra tired?
- Are you experiencing headaches and other body aches more frequently than usual?
It was like an epiphany for me. Everything he asked me was dead on and after two adjustments I cannot begin to tell you how much better I feel already. Not only have I not had a single headache since that first visit I have actually been sleeping through the night without waking up. I feel incredible and have a lot of energy! I swore by going to the chiropractor in the past and I swear by them to this day…the treatment you will receive works.
My goal now moving forward coming out of my week off to recharge myself will be to find balance in everything I am doing. Whether it be something at home, dedicating time to exercise, eating right or working with a customer…I need to find and maintain balance. When something isn’t balanced what happens? Chaos ensues and everything seems to be “out of whack” right? I firmly believe when we introduce more balance into our lives we think and respond clearly, our stress and anxiety levels are much lower than they need to be, have more energy and ultimately prevent future burnout. Create that work life balance for yourself. It’s easily overlooked and undervalued.
My challenge to you if you’re starting to feel like I was feeling or you’re already at that point and need to recover, take that necessary time off. You owe that to yourself. You may need a week or two to focus on yourself. Make it a point to take that time because it is so valuable to your personal well-being and success. Do whatever it takes because you owe it to yourself; bring balance back into your life. I promise you will begin feeling better both physically and psychologically and be more productive than you have been in a long time.
Here are some great links I found online that may motivate and help you get started!