Recently I have been hearing from so many people that they are feeling burned out, stressed out, and generally overwhelmed. Have you felt this recently? Whether you have cancer, are a caregiver, a parent, or an entrepreneur … fatigue and burnout can happen to the best of us.
Sometimes fatigue and burn out can present as if you have depression, anxiety, or illness. And I have some great solutions for you. But before I go into some solutions for stress, fatigue, and burnout I want to tell you a little story.
Last night I got to spend time with a patient (I’ll call Cher), which reminded me of the joys of a beach bonfire. You see, Cher was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and which she used as a jumping off point to start living one of her dreams. Her dream is to visit places all over North America in an R.V. So tonight when she came for her appointment she was coming straight from the beach (a good 6 hour drive) where she got to spend time camping with her family over the weekend.
I was speaking to Cher about the crackling fire, the roasting of marshmallows, and all the beauty that goes with spending time with loved ones gathered around a fire. This brought Cher to sharing with me one of the greatest gifts she feels cancer taught her. So…what do you think she said her greatest gift was?
Cher says that her greatest gift from cancer is SLOWING DOWN. She said that before cancer she would multi-task and always worry about what wasn’t getting done. You know, that constantly running to-do list that can become the background music to your life?
Now that she is slowing down, Cher is noticing deeper connections to her loved ones and more time to take care of herself. She also says that she is seeing the beauty in the little moments of everyday life. Even walking the dog has become more precious and she becomes more present. When have you felt the benefits of SLOWING DOWN?
I know in my own life, I have to make an effort to keep the pace of life slow every once in a while. If I don’t, all of a sudden a year has whizzed by in a blur of tasks and to-dos. I have begun a practice of noticing the times when I start holding my breath, a sure indicator that I need slow down.
I have also begun to schedule a weekend nap. Yep, I have created such busyness in my life that I have to schedule a nap. I don’t always sleep, but I know that I have time set aside to just rest.
What can you do to reduce burn out, fatigue, and stress?
Here are my Top 5 Tips for Burnout, Fatigue, and Stress:
- Slow Down: Recently I was visiting family that lives in a big city (much bigger then Phoenix). While sitting outside of a café, we couldn’t help but notice how hurriedly people came in and out. It seemed like everyone was missing the absolutely gorgeous day, the scent of the freshly baked breads, and opportunities to smile and say thank you to another human being. Rushing pumps our stress hormone cortisol throughout the body. When you pump out too much cortisol, you can have a hard time recovering from stress. What have you been missing while rushing about?
- Nourish Yourself: When you see the word nourish, does your mind automatically jump to food? Nourishment is a deep word that can mean feeding your mind, body, and spirit. It’s so easy to forget to nourish ourselves inside and out, and that’s part of what leads to burn out. Some simple ways to nourish yourself can be drinking a cup of health promoting tea, taking a nap, getting a smoothie or green juice, spending time with a uplifting friend or loved one, putting fresh sheets on your bed…it can be anything really. Remember to nourish yourself every single day.
- Breathe: Taking a deep breath resets our parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and relaxation. Think of your breath as the ultimate stress control alt delete button. When under stress the body’s natural response is short, shallow breathing. That is the sympathetic system taking over. The parasympathetic, or relaxation, system likes to have long deep breaths. So next time you feel stressed out inhale for a count of 6, hold your breath for a count of 3, and exhale for a count of 6. After just 7 inhales and exhales, your body chemistry is already shifting from stress mess to calm and centered.
- Do Less: My worldview was completely rocked when I heard Greg McKeown talk about his book Essentialism. In the book he says over and over again “Less but Better.” The great thing about doing less is that the things you decide to focus on have 100% of your energy. This is something that we often know all too well during cancer, where so much energy is spent focusing on doctors appointments, treatments, and scans. For me, this one pointed focus brought a more zen like state into our household. All we focused on was treatment and being together enjoying the little moments of joy, like our new puppy. When we returned to “normal life” and started becoming distracted by all of the other pulls on our attention from friends, work, and other commitments it was overwhelming! Less but better reminds us that we can take a stand and protect our precious time to do the things that we love.
- Create a Team of Support: No one can do it alone. In fact, we are biologically wired to only survive in a group of support.
And here’s a great tea recipe to help support your adrenals and nourish your soul as you take a moment to enjoy the view while you sip and savor.
Burn Out Free Tea
¼ cup dried avena sativa (milky oat seeds)
¼ cup dried nettle leaves
¼ cup dried tulsi leaves
¼ cup dried spearmint
1 T. lavender flowers
1 T. rose flowers
Mix all ingredients together and keep sealed in an airtight container or jar. To make a cup of tea use 1 Tablespoon of mix per 8 ounces of hot water. Allow to steep covered for 5 minutes. Enjoy.