Do you work for yourself? Have you ever suffered with burnout? You are not alone! Last summer I suffered with massive burnout because I was SO stressed out trying to give the children the best summer holiday as well as keep on top of my work that I do from home. It manifested in my jaw predominately and I suffered terribly with TMJ, a muscular jaw pain that came on every day and seemed to get worse the more I tried to settle it down. As well as heightened hormonal stresses and overwhelm.
I adore my work. I write freelance, I create YouTube videos, content for social media and of course write here on my travel and lifestyle blog! But the trouble when you work for yourself and do something that you love, is that the lines are very blurred and the boundaries of working and living are easy to break.
With the summer holidays coming up I am really aware that I need to approach them this year in a totally different way so that I don’t burnout again. I wanted to share some of the practices I have been doing recently to help maintain a healthy balance, build resilience to stress and importantly, enjoy the summer holidays with my children. I really hope they help anyone who works for themselves, if you found it useful please share this with those who you think will benefit too.
Ways to Avoid Summer Holiday Burnout
Wake up 20 minutes earlier.
I know this probably sounds crazy when you are already likely to be exhausted from the additional workload and pressure, but waking up before your children rise affords you the luxury of a moment to collect your thoughts and focus on what you need to get done during the day ahead. Having 20 minutes peace to have a cup of tea while the sun comes up or even use it to get a load of washing on or write your to do list really helps me feel clarity and composure for the day ahead and starts me off on the right foot.
Call on friends – do a childcare swap.
This is great if you have friends who also work and who have children around the same age. It’s free of course and you can find that having more than just your own children there will entertain yours even more, giving you a little more time to do what you need to do while they are playing. It also feels great knowing you’re helping a fellow self employed business owner feel less stress too during this busy time.
Get outside early.
I love getting the children out early and letting them burn off some energy so that they are tired out, but also the mum guilt is lessened if I have to work in the afternoon because I know they have had a really fun morning with me. I also book in a few days where we are out of the house all day, so these quiet afternoons are actually needed by them to help them recoup their energy too.
Try Herbal Remedies For Stress Relief.
Last year I rediscovered Rescue Remedy, something I had taken many times during my teenage years for stress relief around exam times. The range has seriously expanded since I first started using it and they kindly sent me a selection to try out recently which I have absolutely loved using. They have some amazing new herbal remedies for combating stressful times that I have found are really really effective. They even have a Plus range which has added vitamins, my favourite is the Rescue Plus Spray and the lozenges (which taste delicious too!) for when I am sat at my desk as they give me amazing clarity and help me focus on the things I need to do, allowing me to feel much less overwhelm when I have a lot on my plate. I also love the Rescue liquid night melts and dropper to help me get a restful sleep naturally so I am on my game in the morning. There’s lots of helpful mental health tips over on their website too which you can check out here.
Don’t try and do all your tasks in one go.
Giving yourself a huge to do list is totally overwhelming and nothing good comes of it generally. You’ll end up feeling under accomplished and like you’ve failed which is not going to help with the feelings of burnout. Instead, list 5 things you want to achieve today, and number them in order of importance. Check out the Pomodoro Technique for amazing ways to beat procrastination if you suffer with this – I know I do!
Focus on your productive times.
For me, I am most productive in the evening. So it makes sense to try and do the most of my work in the evening. But this means that when I am with the children in the day I mustn’t try and fit too much work in because I know I will be working all evening. If you are more productive in the mornings then switch up some of the previous tips, so taking the children out in the afternoon instead and dedicating 100% of your attention to them at that time. Trying to do both at 50% really doesn’t work so definitely try and assign the time to each role as parent and business owner and be committed to that task.
Adjust your standards.
Perfectionism can be a major source of stress and anxiety, but often it is what we are projecting onto ourselves, but it doesn’t actually need to be that way. It’s ok to lower your standards when time is not on your side, sometimes getting the job done to a “satisfactory” standard is enough.
What Contributes To Your Stress?
Learn to identify stress and deal with it straight away.
I know that my mood and patience with the children can sometimes switch up immediately if I read an email that makes me feel under pressure. A brand who want something back straight away or an article that needs editing immediately. So, because I have identified that I can manage that from happening so much. I make sure I look at my emails throughout the day when I have time to deal with whatever may have come through to my inbox, rather than looking at them as soon as they come in because if I can’t actually do anything about it at that moment then I shouldn’t be looking at the potential issue coming in – it will stress me out, I will take it out on the children and for no resolution. Think about adding an out of office to your email to inform people when you will be available and to expect a delay.
Learn to say no.
The summer holidays are not the time to be taking on additional work that you don’t have the time for, especially if it is pro bono or something with a low fee that you’re just doing to help someone out. Don’t be afraid to say no to the things that aren’t going to bring you any benefit as they are just adding to your to do list and potentially make you burnout without bringing any advantage to you.
Avoid Burnout : Make Sure You Go To Work.
Work from a work only zone.
This is so important for being able to shut off at night. Working from a dedicated space means that when you “go to work” you are in work mode, and when you finish work, you’re able to relax. Letting the sofa become a place where you work, (or even worse the soft office – your bed!) means that the lines of work and rest are totally blurred, and you’ll never truly relax! Making time to shut off from the online world is so important and can really help with reducing your stress levels.
Connect with others who work for themselves.
You may work in a team, but the likelihood is you work on your own without a team to share the stress and strains of self-employed life with. But there are tonnes of Facebook groups for different industries and I find this a really nice way to connect with like-minded business peers and share support, ideas or even just find a friendly ear to have a good old rant to with others who might feel feelings of burnout.
So, these are my ways to help beat burnout this summer, I have another post coming up soon with even more tips so keep an eye out for that, but I’d love to know if you have any additional tips to add, please get involved in the comments and share your tips.
This post is written collaboratively. Thank you Rescue for sending me a selection of amazing products and sponsoring this post, all views are my own.
Check out these videos if you want more ways to reduce stress and be more mindful.