Would You Sprint a Marathon?

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Many of us feel like we’re not where we need to be, comparing ourselves to others and assuming everyone else has their lives together. The reality is, most of us are in the same boat. These niggling thoughts can make us think the route to success is to utilise 100% effort all of the time, but this leads us to feel even more overwhelmed and exhausted than we were before. It’s like trying to sprint a marathon – we want to get to the finish, but if we use all our energy in the first few miles we’ll never reach it. Here we will discuss methods to achieve our goals at a more manageable speed to prevent us from burning out.

Pacing

Pacing is a tried and true method that focuses on listening to how much our body and mind can cope with. Our body will often tell us when we’ve had enough, but we have a pesky habit of ignoring it when we’re wanting to get as much done as possible. 

Pacing refers to spreading activities evenly throughout the day to make the most of our energy – sometimes it’s tempting to try to do as much as we can in the short time we have, but this will only lead to exhaustion. When we feel worn out, we’re unable to complete other tasks, which makes us feel like we’re failing when we’re not, we’re just spreading ourselves too thin. We need time to recover between activities to prevent the vicious cycle of doing too much, then no longer being productive. Pacing requires practice, but will pay off in the long run. It’s necessary to prioritise and plan activities – we can ask ourselves, ‘what needs to be done today?’, and ‘what can wait a week?’, then plan our days accordingly around these jobs.

Small steps first

If we have a big goal we want to achieve, it can often feel overwhelming – we’re looking at where we are now and where we want to be, and it feels like we’re miles away from it. We can break down these goals and figure out what we can do today to get on the road to achieving it. For example, if your goal is to get a new job, something you can work on today is looking at your CV to see where you can improve it to maximise your chances of getting the job you want. Another thing you could do is look into volunteering related to the desired job to boost your experience in the field. Big goals take time, but we can reach them one step at a time.

Burnout Prevention

Burnout will often occur when we try to sprint through life, and recognition and prevention are essential to preserve our mental health. Knowing the signs can help us to stop it early and prevent it from worsening over time. Symptoms of burnout include mental fatigue, feeling tense, physical aches and pains, and dreading the next day. To prevent these symptoms there are several advised methods. Firstly, self reflection. Ask yourself, ‘what are my goals and expectations for myself?’. Assessing our goals and work passions can help us figure out what we’re unhappy with, then we can plan what we need to do next to get us to where we want to be. 

As cliché as it sounds, exercising regularly and eating healthily improves our mental wellbeing. Simply going for a short walk can help to melt away some of the stresses of the day. It gives us time to assess whether our problems are worth worrying about. 

Getting enough sleep is also massively beneficial to our physical and emotional health. Reducing screen time before bed and reading or listening to a podcast instead gets us away from the negativity of social media, and also gives our eyes a rest! 

We also want to make sure we’re making time for ourselves, indulging in our hobbies and passions outside of work. Meditation and yoga are two good ways to unwind and clear our minds.

Finally, make sure you have a good support system – talking to and meeting up with friends and family is imperative to preventing burnout. Talking through difficult situations with someone to gain a different perspective is sometimes all we need to help solve our problems.

We now have the three core skills necessary to get ourselves over that finish line without burning ourselves out first. The most important thing to remember is that we are not alone in our feelings or anxieties. Reaching out to others is one of the most valuable skills to take away from these suggestions – someone will always be there to help you, no matter how big your problems may seem. By practising pacing, setting small goals, and burnout prevention, we can all make our daily lives easier to cope with and finish the race with a smile. 

If you are suffering with burnout or mental health issues related to work, please complete one of our contact forms for an in depth confidential discussion.

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