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“Its tough to find a moment during the day to stop and recharge, but its important if you want to stay your best”

Too often, we focus on our physical health but neglect the mental side of things. Most of my week I’m either in the office, in meetings, or at uni. There’s always something going on, and sometimes it seems impossible to take a moment for myself.

But it’s essential to find time during the day – whether it’s an hour-long yoga session or a quick stroll around the block. I find that if I don’t make ‘me-time’, then I’m not as productive as I could be.

 

MAKE YOUR #ONECHANGE
Are you approaching a burnout stage? Ask yourself: how well am I coping with everyday things?

Recognise when you’re approaching burnout

Unfortunately, it often takes pushing ourselves to extremes before we realise how overworked we are. There have been a few times this year where I haven’t been able to find regular time for myself. And, after a while, I found that I wasn’t dealing with stress very well.

With my job – and at uni – it’s really important that I’m present, with myself and my community. As soon as I lose the feeling of just being me, I acknowledge it straight away and act quickly to change my situation.

Learning to recognise the signs is the first step in overcoming burnout. You know you’re not taking enough time out for yourself when you can no longer cope with everyday situations. Maybe you’re not meeting the same deadlines you used to. Or maybe you’re less tolerant around colleagues and loved ones.

At the end of the day, when you feel overwhelmed, you tend to be super unproductive because you’re not focusing on one task. Your mind is buzzing between multiple things, and you feel like you’re never going to get anything done.

Test out different ways to take time out

Of course, there are lots of ways to take time out for yourself. This could be anything from a yoga class to a walk with the dog. I recently got into meditation – something I’d always thought wasn’t for me. Now I try and meditate around three times a week, using guided meditations from the Keep It Cleaner app. It’s definitely helped me slow down and stay focused. If I’m not sleeping well, meditation is also a great way to unwind before bed and calm my racing mind down!

My days are pretty mixed. I don’t have too much of a routine. I find that if I get really fixated on a particular routine, it becomes difficult to maintain when I travel for work, or something comes up. It helps, then, to make personal time out as flexible as possible ¬– activities that can be done anywhere, anytime. Controlled breathing, for example, is a great little break that you can do at your desk, on the bus, in bed.

I try to be flexible in my approach to ‘me time’. If you put too much pressure on yourself to find that time where you’re not working or studying, it can actually become a source of stress itself. Try your best to prioritise time for yourself, but don’t beat yourself up if life gets in the way.

Remove distractions

The work-life balance has become more and more blurred. With technology, the traditional nine-to-five has gone out the window, and we’re now very accessible wherever we are. When you’re taking time out for yourself, I find the best way to get your mind to where it needs to be is by removing as many distractions as possible. This could mean switching off your phone, or leaving it in another room.

Many mental health experts agree we’re spending too much time on our devices. But technology can, ironically, also free us from modern distractions. I find that having a smartwatch is a great way to put a little distance between you and your devices; I’m able to leave my phone – and all of its distractions like social media – elsewhere. I’m away from tech, but I can still register notifications, in case there’s an emergency that I need to respond to. It’s not a completely distraction-free solution, but hey, when it comes to work-life balance, I’m still working on it too!