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Frustrated Woman at Computer With Stack of PaperThis past week I hit a wall. Exhausted from traveling, speaking, and book events, I couldn’t put a pen to paper. The thought of opening my computer and trying to write something that others would find interesting or valuable was beyond my capacity. What happened? My gas gauge was on the borderline of empty and running on fumes. Have you ever been there? If so, you know all too well the feeling of being so depleted you have nothing to give yourself or others.

Now, I’m a coach. I should have seen the telltale signs of impending fatigue and burn out. But the excitement of my book launch and the opportunities that presented themselves kicked up my adrenaline to the point that I thought I could do it all. Sure, two cross country trips in two weeks? No problem! I can do that and I will rock it on the stage at every event.

The adrenaline was flowing day and night as I crossed time zones. I was on such a high that I couldn’t sleep well and it began to take its toll on my body.

Because I’m a coach, I can’t help but look for lessons in this experience, not only for myself but for others who look to me for guidance and wisdom. Although I’m still in recovery mode this week, last week I forced myself to take the time to do nothing. I took long walks instead of my regular morning run and spin class routine. I planted flowers, scrubbed my porch furniture, had my family over for dinner, sat outside by the river behind my house in solitude and did some reading. In short, I did mindless tasks to give my brain and body a rest.

Here are some suggestions to avoid burn out:

  1. Do a reality check on what your capacity is for tackling whatever is on your to do list.
  2. Understand that life circumstances affect your energy in positive and negative ways. What might have been easy for you to do last month, may now be challenging because of family issues, health, and stress.
  3. Listen to your body. What are the signals your body is sending you to slow down? Is it insomnia, back pain, headaches, upset stomach?
  4. Relax your expectations accordingly. I know this is especially difficult for me. If I’m not productive or if I don’t exercise daily, I tend to beat myself up. The result is I push myself too hard when I should take a step back.
  5. Communicate to others that you are taking a break. This is important so that people understand that you are slowing down for a short time in order to get back up to speed. Ask them to honor your respite.
  6. Love yourself. You cannot give to others until you yourself are replenished. We usually put ourselves last on the list of caring. Try to make yourself number one for a few days and relish in the love you are bestowing upon yourself.

My distance from my daily routine has helped me get back on track. I have given myself a great gift, loving myself!