If you’re wondering how you can prevent burnout as an entrepreneur or professional, you’re in good company.
As communicators, we’re really aware that good messaging, good content and good presentation comes from a place of energy and wellbeing. Being on the top of our game mentally and physically is a key ingredient in the way we brand, market and express ourselves.
So what can we do to help ourselves?
I take a leaf out of my personal trainers book and am a huge advocate of active recovery.
In the sports world active recovery is designed to help muscles repair, recover and grow stronger. It advises complimenting your hardcore workout sessions with a lower intensity work out.
If we think of our brains and nervous systems as muscles, then perhaps introducing a lower intensity version of our working lives could be a productive alternative to a Netflix binge session.
Now, don’t get me wrong. If your mind and body are screaming at you to fully rest and recuperate then grab yourself a duvet day. You do you.
What do we need?
According to Maslow, our professional drive and entrepreneurial ambition is based in the top of his hierarchy of human needs: self-actualisation.
But a glance at that triangle shows that these things sit at the top of a strong foundation made up of our physiological, safety, belonging and esteem needs. Without this foundation the top of the triangle isn’t as stable as it could be.
Could spending some of your weekend or downtime focusing on replenishing these needs give you more of a boost for the week ahead?
If you want to give active recovery a go, here are some tips to get you started:
1 – Feed your body
For me cooking is the ultimate active recovery step. I adore cooking as a way of relaxing, escaping and really being mindful. Even if cooking doesn’t hold the same appeal for you, filling your body with healthy food and plenty of water can only pay dividends in the week ahead.
2 – Get out
Dr Valerie Gladwell, senior lecturer in sport and exercise science at the University of Essex believes that walking outside releases endorphins and hormones that promote better mood such as oxytocin, the feel good hormone
Who doesn’t want that? I am blessed to live in the beautiful Lake District but a walk without a stunning vista is still a walk. Pop on your headphones (see tip 8 below), and get those steps in.
3 – Get some sleep
I know I said ‘active’ recovery, but you really can’t underestimate the benefits of a good night’s sleep – or the long-term consequence of consistently not getting enough. At least one night this weekend, unplug your devices an hour before bedtime, pick up a book, have a bath, whatever it takes to help you slumber.
4 – Do what you love
As I said before, cooking is the activity that helps me lose myself. I get into the flow and have no comprehension of time. It’s fabulous. When did you last completely lose yourself in a non-work activity? Carve out regular time and do more of it!
5 – Disconnect
When did you last have a date night or spend time with friends and family without being distracted by your phone? Endless notifications and mindless scrolling are time and energy vampires. Pick a day when you intentionally unplug from your digital world and marvel at how much more time you have.
6 – Connect
No, don’t pick your mobile back up. Stay disconnected from the digital world, and spend some of the time and mental space that unplugging creates to reconnect with the people in your life. Have brunch, go for a walk, and enjoy a conversation where you are both fully present.
7 – Explore
There is a good chance that wherever you live, there are parts of that area that you have never visited or keep meaning to explore. Do it. Make today that day. And keep your eyes open, you never know where inspiration might strike in your new surroundings.
8 – Feed your brain
Podcasts and audiobooks are a great way to combine relaxation with learning. Limit your listening session (it is easy to invest full days in leaning but remember that we are aiming for a relaxing recharge here, not more overwhelm) but when you do listen actively.
If you are inspired take a note for later in the week, resisting the temptation to act immediately and cut your active recovery short.
9 – If you really want to… work
If following these tips have created space for a eureka moment and you feel energised by the thought of taking immediate action, then do some work. But set a timer and only do those tasks that bring you joy.
What do you do to help prevent burnout and relax in your downtime? We’d love your ideas in the comments below. And if you think that anyone in your life could benefit from trying active recovery, please do share this article.
Until next week,
Lucy and Emma | The Communication Coaches