Taking Time Off

What does time off look like to you? How does it feel when you take time off? How do you want it to feel?

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This past week I both publicly launched my new business and took time off over a holiday weekend. Perhaps this seems like a crazy idea, but to me, it was just right. Don't get me wrong, I still had that very insistent little drill sergeant voice inside my head that never wants me to stop working. I'll give it to her -- she's pretty convincing.

However, there's another voice that comes into play nowadays to start a conversation with my drill sergeant. This voice creates more of a balance. This voice comes from experience. And what this wise, growing voice has learned is what burnout feels like. It knows, for a fact, burnout is not something she wants to occur in her life or in her business if she can help it.

Burnout is a sneaky thing. While it's frequently tied to a work-life scenario, it isn't based solely in being overworked.

In my life, I've mostly experienced burnout in relationships. While well-intentioned, in the past, I dedicated the majority of my energy to care for/”help” people I loved and it created an unhealthy dynamic overall. The biggest root cause of this was a misunderstanding I had. I believed love meant putting everyone else before myself and it would be selfish to put myself first. This is wild to think back on now, but I felt that deep and, for the most part, without question . Enter: A LOT of internal conflict and repeated burnout.

While there are multi-layers to this, something important I was missing was the crucial element of self-care. I was missing the fact that self-care was loving -- to others and to myself. That self-care was balance and a necessity.

Burnout is a loss of energy, enthusiasm, and confidence.

Burnout is a loss of energy, enthusiasm, and confidence. According to the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) burnout is defined by three dimensions: emotional exhaustion, cynicism/depersonalization, and inefficacy/reduced personal accomplishment (i.e. lack of motivation).

When we're able to look at burnout from this definition you can see why self-care plays such a large role in maintaining balance in our lives — both personally and professionally. Energy is a great resource we have as humans and it is a limited one if we don't take care of ourselves properly. This means different things for each person of course. Nonetheless, it is important we take time to get to know ourselves well to help us learn exactly what we need to replenish our personal energy.

And, while it may look unique for each of us, time off is required self-care.

Time off is required self-care.

What fills you up with energy? Perhaps time off looks like:

  • Getting to a few house projects you've had on your mind

  • Biting the bullet and hiring someone for a project

  • Going out to dinner with some friends

  • Going on an adventure either local or far away

  • Going on a date night

  • Getting outside

  • Catching up on your favorite TV show

  • Going on a run all by yourself for an hour

  • Reading a chapter of a new book

  • Listening to a podcast uninterrupted

  • Allowing your imagination to run as you play with your kids for an afternoon

  • Or, perhaps, it's the very hard, but real task of releasing shame for not doing work that day

Whatever time off may look like for you, it is worth exploring — your body will thank you for it. Find ways to integrate the replenishment of your energy into your schedule. It could be moments daily, blocks of time weekly, days off monthly, etc.

You are the only one who knows what you need the most. Give yourself the gift of time to continue to explore what this looks like for you. Your life, both personally and professionally will be better off for it!



References:

  • Maslach, C., & Leiter, M. P. (2005). Banishing Burnout: Six strategies for improving your relationship with work. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

  • Maslach, C., Leiter, M. P., & Schaufeli, W. (2009). Measuring burnout. In S. Cartwright & C. L. Cooper (Eds.). The Oxford handbook of organizational well-being (pp. 86-108). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B., & Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job burnout. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 397-422.

  • Nguyen, Steve, PH.D. (2016). https://workplacepsychology.net/2011/08/19/the-three-burnout-subtypes/