Who needs a day off?
I often hear people say that when you are self-employed, there is no such thing as a day off and I agree that this is the case for most of us…..especially when we are first starting out.
But is shouldnt be!
For me, I try to take one full day off during the week 🤣 I also try to manage my time so that my weekends are split between work time (until around 3pm) and family time. The key words there are ‘I try’.
I usually manage the family time at the weekend, but I have been really struggling with the full day off. For example, last week I decided that I was having Wednesday off because my dad was coming to visit, and I wanted to spend some time with him.
During my day off, I logged on to help out a client quickly, attended a networking meeting and had another meeting to discuss the potential of more work coming in. I felt really bad for my dad, but I am lucky, he understands that whilst I am building the business, I cannot miss an opportunity to network or generate new business 🤷♀️
This weekend I had fully planned to work the full weekend. We had arranged a play date for the terror tot yesterday morning, so I was swapping my timings around a little, but the plan was to work through as usual.
We went to our playdate and had a fantastic time whilst dude played with his little pal and we caught up with the grown-ups. It was so nice. I felt really relaxed and happy, so I decided, as I didn’t have any urgent client work booked in, to give myself the rest of the day off 😲
This is how my day went.
Playdate with terror tot.
Have a nap (slept like the dead for 2 hours).
Get up, eat cake and watch Frozen 2.
Play with terror tot for a couple of hours.
Put dude to bed and order takeaway
Eat until we can’t move and watch a movie whilst sitting in our food coma
It was PERFECT!
It was exactly what I needed and for the first time in months, I didn’t feel guilty about taking the time.
Today I woke up early (as usual) and I felt refreshed and ready to face the day.
So far (it is 10:49 as I write this), I have done the washing, snuggled and watched cartoons with terror tot, made pancakes, had a fruit snack, showered, dressed and done and I am already up to number 8 on my ‘to-do’ list.
I have been sooooooo productive!
This got me to thinking, was this a fluke or is this what happens after you give yourself a break and let yourself have some down time????
Now, being the curious little puppy that I am, I couldn’t just sit with that thought, I HAD to do the research and here is what I found
Burnout is very real and the effects can be devastating!
Not just tiredness….it can effect your mind, your confidence and the physical effects are scary.
Here are some of the symptoms that I found (full article can be found here).
This is only a very small list of the things that could happen to your body and mind if you do not take the rest that you need.
- Chronic fatigue – physically and mentally exhausted.
- Insomnia – your brain will not shut down, no mater how tired you are.
- Lack of concentration and attention – unable to focus on the task at hand.
- Physical effects – stomach-ache, headaches, dizziness, palpitations.
- Lower immune system – your body can only battle so much at any one time.
- Anxiety – the longer it goes on, the worse it gets. Feelings of not being enough. Ever.
Honestly, I was shocked.
At different points in the last year, I have experienced most of these symptoms and why? Because I am a perfectionist and I have been pushing myself with everything that I have, to make sure that I succeed. Because everybody tells you that you have to work had and make sacrifices to succeed but is success really work my mental and physical health?
Does it really make me a better Virtual Assistant?
Time for me to get my act together and sort this out!
I continued on with my research and found some great tips on how protect yourself from burnout.
Learn to say no
It’s ok, it’s allowed.
For me, one of the biggest issues is trying to be all things to all people.
Family want to visit so I take time off work to spend time with them, then I need to play catch up because the work still needs to be done.
Why not protect my work time like I would the terror tot’s nap times.
This isn’t just taking a 5-minute break always from the computer. That is basic health and safety.
I am talking about taking an actually break. A couple of days off to do something that makes you feel good or even better, to do nothing at all.
Do what I did yesterday, give yourself permission to relax in whatever way works for you.
Celebrate your effort
I am terrible for pushing myself until a job is complete rather than celebrating the effort that I am putting in, and it is so important to reward yourself for all of those little wins.
Life isn’t about the ending, it is all about the journey so why do I spend all of my time focussing on the end product when I should pause for a second to enjoy the journey that I am on.
Trust me, I know how hard this one is.
My brain is hardwired to believe that I should be looking after the baby, the house, cooking the meals, doing the washing and shopping all whilst building my business. I am not quite sure when I decided that I was superwoman, but it is definitely time to get real!
I am not superhuman.
I am not even A super human.
I am just a normal human being who needs some help.
Interestingly, Mr S was actually pleased when I started delegating some of the household chores. Not that he likes washing pots or going shopping, just that he has always been able to see that I was taking too much and now I have given up some control.
For more tips on recovering from burnout, there is a great article on Psychology Today which you can find here.
So, this is my story on how I am learning to look after myself better.
I would love to know how you do it?
Do you schedule time for self-care?
Do you push yourself too hard?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.