We’re Toast

…well not quite in trouble, but recently the feeling of burnout has been trailing behind us, like a blazing fire following a gasoline leak. The steady, hazardous drip came from an embedded, almost subconscious thought: “I love my work, I don’t need a vacation.” While the former is true, the latter part of that statement is definitely false. It wasn’t until recently that we realized our last vacation was 13 months ago. With little more than an occasional half-day off in over a year, the reason behind our exhaustion came into focus. Without sustained and intentional time off, we were burning the candle at both ends; everything was becoming too much effort and yet we pushed forward anyway.

Perhaps you’ve felt it too, the sneaky symptoms of burnout include:

— Falling asleep quickly only to wake up in the middle of the night

— Less healthy, natural color in face

— Relying on quick-energy food options to get through the day

— A tired-but-wired feeling, never being able to fully relax

— Lack of a desire to connect with friends

— Feeling like you’ve been “run over by a truck”

— No energy, tired all the time, fatigued

— Waking up exhausted, not well-rested

The common responses of “busy,” “tired”, and “stressed” when asked how you’re doing is the zeitgeist of our current time. It’s the consequence of our sleep-deprived, 5-hour energy lives. For productivity, it’s pump-or-pill-yourself-up, and at the end of the day we ‘wine’ down and scroll through or watch screens.

You may feel like you can handle the frantic pace and multitasking of life for awhile – maybe you claim to thrive when life is too busy. However, eventually, everyone pays the piper. The stress we don’t even know we’re under starts to accumulate and we, our minds and our bodies, are unable to cope with it.

Why am I Exhausted?

First things first. Get evaluated by a healthcare professional and lab work to rule out underlying conditions such as anemia, thyroid disease, depression, allergies, side effects of certain medications, insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.

Second, as with most things in life, this problem is a matter of balance between supply and demand. There are times when work gets hectic or short-term caregiving can cause exhaustion and there are other times when, despite our busy lives, we feel energized and ready to take on life. At a basic level, when our lives have more demands, we tend to feel tired. If this is short-term, we typically have energy in the bank to help us through. Common examples include pulling an all-nighter to tend to a sick child or a work project, or even running a half-marathon. The problem is when the demands don’t let up and others pile on. The scale then tips very unfavorably and we deplete our reserves, our emergency energy, and we become exhausted. It’s critical here to point out that there is a difference between being ‘tired’ (which can typically be remedied by a good night’s sleep) and ‘fatigue’ (which tends to be a longer-standing state not easily remedied by a massage or a day off).

Tools

Fatigue is a wonderful teacher. While she might initially make you slow down, it’s only to give you the opportunity to examine your life, learn more about yourself and what’s truly important to you. She certainly taught us a thing or two these past few weeks – namely getting back to the basics, examining our thoughts, and using the tools we have in our toolbox.

As one example, we will often use a life inventory tool as we work with clients to help bring awareness to certain areas of life in need of support. We explore your relationship with food and physical movement as well as your mind functioning and stress, self-care, and spirit.

We help you plug your energy drains and naturally increase your personal energy level so that you can meet the demands of the day.

Along with this is personalized support, mindset adjustments, setting boundaries, learning to delegate and stop people-pleasing, and building up natural energy stores with proper nutrition and lifestyle changes. Our goal is that your sense of wellbeing is good most of the time so that you have a higher quality of life. If this sounds like natural energy restoration you are looking for, schedule a complimentary call and we’ll get started.

❄️ Are you Frozen too? ❄️

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One of the great joys of having young kids in the family is letting our own inner child come out to play. With the recent release of Frozen II in theaters, we thought this was the perfect time to relate this to being frozen in our own lives. Elsa the Snow Queen’s super-power is turning objects and people to ice. She can build icy bridges, stop an attack, and probably make ice cream whenever she wants (lucky). But her power has to be controlled. And while Elsa freezes things, we often freeze ourselves.

How we ‘Freeze’ ourselves

How do you relate with being frozen? In what area of life are you stuck? It could be around starting an exercise regimen, decluttering the basement or guest room, addressing the issues in your relationships, writing the book, updating the resume or asking for a raise. It could be in the area of health improvement, where we want to lose weight or become more plant-based, but we just can’t seem to begin or sustain our progress.

And because we are frozen, we just find ways to feel better about it. Sometimes we distract ourselves. Have you ever needed to study for a test and then looked at the messy state of your room and thought to yourself, “there’s no ways I can study in this environment”and then spent your study time detail-cleaning the room? We may distract ourselves with lounging in front of the TV, or spending hours on Facebook or Instagram. Numbing out with sugar, caffeine, smoking, or alcohol are also ways we try to make ourselves feel better about being frozen.

What makes this even worse is we put a layer of shame frosting on top. We start belittling ourselves and ‘wishing’ we were better. “Argh,” we think as we get up from the couch after 4 hours of watching Gypsy Sisters or Netflixing World War II documentaries, “I wish I had more motivation to have exercised today” or “I should have cleaned out the downstairs closet, it’s such a mess.”

Perhaps you can relate to unachieved goals, shame storms, and numbing out. Have you ever wondered what lies beneath?

What causes us to be Frozen

In a word: perfectionism. It sounds kind of beautiful, but it’s actually one of the worst words because of the meaning and effect it has in our lives.

It’s hard to say where our perfectionism comes from, but if you’ve ever grown up hearing someone say to you, “If you can’t do it right; don’t do it at all!,” that could be part of the origin. In essence, we are told that our actions, and even who we are, aren’t worthy unless perfect. What a toxic message to carry around with us in our lives.

Perfectionism tends to either paralyze us into inaction or cause us to go overboard and, consequently, burn out.

Why even start to clean the guest bedroom if we can’t do it ‘perfectly’ and we don’t have the five hours we believe it will take? Well, because you CAN make progress, even with 15 minutes of removing trash, clutter, and boxes. 

Perfectionism with our food usually looks like following a certain diet for a few days or weeks, then falling off the wagon and eating everything in sight. There’s an anti-dote to this that allows for sustainable weight loss; chat with us and find out more.

In short, perfectionism usually causes us to procrastinate, get overwhelmed, and shut-down or ‘freeze’.

What’s the cost of perfectionism? The cost is not getting things done at all, whereas we could have made progress. The cost is our inner peace; we don’t feel at peace when we feel stressed and frustrated by not having the time or ability to do something perfectly. Perfectionism can cost our relationships with other people. If you’ve ever yelled at a child or spouse because of a small mess or because they aren’t cleaning the ‘right’ way (your way) you can see the effect your perfectionism and words have on others. Also – and this is two-fold- if you value keeping your home environment museum-perfect over having your ‘messy’ grandchildren visit or if you feel like you can’t have visitors due to a messy, cluttered environment, your relationships with others will suffer.

Check yourself: next time you find yourself frustrated or overwhelmed by a challenge, look underneath that feeling to see if perfectionism is the undercurrent.

How to get Un-frozen

The power of un-freezing ourselves comes from realizing that progress > perfection. Initially, your belief in that statement will recoil. How could progress be better than that which is perfect? Well, considering the high costs and knowing something will never, ever truly be perfect….progress starts looking really good, right? Excellence, according to dictionary definition is, “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.” If excellence means that we can take action, feel good about ourselves, and not get stuck, why would anyone choose perfectionism instead? 

A small step, taken consistently and continuously reaching toward our goal is better than no action at all. Perhaps you remember My 30-minute Morning Routine about how many people create obstacles for themselves to workout when 6 minutes of strength-training in your own home can still help you feel better and see results. But if you don’t learn to change your way of thinking, perfectionism will keep you hog-tied and frozen.

In Frozen II, Elsa’s sister, Anna, seems to display and embody more of the element – fire – in this movie. Here’s where we have an answer to thawing ourselves out and taking action. Fire motivates, it stirs passion, and, if uncontrolled, it will burn everything in its path. So the key here is to find your motivation and use it as the fire to propel you towards your goals, but without going overboard and burning out.

Motivation isn’t usually enough though, so consider other ‘hacks’ such as scheduling your workout. The 4 Tips to Fit in Fitness blog is a great place to start. When it comes to decluttering, check out our experience with the Konmari Method for inspiration and ideas to make it easier.

Want to write a book? Just start writing, imperfectly. A typo is not the end of the world; besides, there are opportunities to review and make edits (or have others do it!). Allowing perfectionism to rule in this area of your life means your story is never shared, in-print or online.

What’s one area of your life where you’re willing to become ‘unfrozen’ and warm up your ‘fire’ to take action?