You go flat out all the time.
You pride yourself on handling everything. No matter what’s thrown at you, you catch it and, seemingly without effort, add it to all the other plates you’re spinning.
A last-minute assignment at work?
Making goodies for the school fund raiser?
You’re on it.
Carpooling kids sports teams, extra laundry from game day, boning up for a big career promotion - it’s all good.
Until your body crumbles under the burden of too much stress, too little sleep, and sporadic self-care, at best. You feel exhausted; utterly spent, lucky if you can drag yourself through each day.
Whoa, now. These signs of burnout are serious. I urge you to commit yourself to practicing physical self-care or you’ll be too burned out to enjoy your life at all.
What Exactly Is Physical Self-Care Anyway?
A good physical self-care routine incorporates diet, exercise, and the quality of your sleep.
Here’s why they’re important not only to general physical self-care but also for the prevention and healing of burnout:
A poor diet can profoundly impact your immune system, mental health, and risk for chronic disease. When you rely mostly on fast foods, you can further compound the risks of dietary issues and amplify the effects of stress on yourself.
Exercise is also an important part of self-care, especially if your job requires you to do a lot of sitting. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends healthy adults get at least 75 to 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity each week. Take a walk, go for a run, or dance. Do something you enjoy and move your body!
Curiously, getting enough high-quality sleep often gets overlooked. And how often have we sacrificed sleep in order to keep over-taxing ourselves?
However, a recent study in the Journal of Neuroscience points out that lack of sleep may actually cause irreversible damage to brain cells. I don’t mean to scare you - but I do want you to be aware of the risks of lack of sleep.
As well, sleep is also important for healing, weight loss, and maintaining healthy stress and hormone levels. The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep each night for adults to remain healthy. I know what you’re thinking...
“Okay, great, but how the heck do I sleep better?”
Check out my article Fatigue Is a Sign of Burnout (and 9 Tips to Get Rested) for tips on how to get restful sleep.
Last but certainly not least, take charge of your medical health. Make sure you get an annual physical check-up and a women's wellness appointment to check your reproductive health, including breast and pelvic exams, and a Pap test. Also, schedule any other tests that are recommended for your age group. So many of my clients neglect this important part of their physical self-care that I wanted to be sure to mention this.
How To Create A Supportive Routine
First, ask yourself what your goal is for a physical self-care routine. Getting specific will help you tailor one to your particular needs. Here’s a step-by-step guide for you:
#1 Identify how you want to feel
A great way to start is to ask yourself how you want to feel. Perhaps you’d like to feel energized, optimistic, or cheerful.
> If you like to journal, write out your goal as clearly and vividly as you can.
> If you’re a visual person, you may want to sketch your goal with colored pencils, or create a vision board that represents what you are working towards.
#2 Create action items to accomplish your goal
Next, include specific actions that will support you. They may be things like:
> Wake up earlier
> Go dancing
> Take a warm bath
> Get a massage
> Learn about healthy eating
#3 Set yourself up for success
I encourage you to set yourself up for success! As highly-accomplished women, I know how we like to dive wholeheartedly into something new. Which, in this case, can be a recipe for failure. So I want you to take baby steps with your routine.
> Add physical self-care gradually so you aren’t overwhelmed - this will help you break free from the burnout cycle.
> Also, consider asking someone you trust to hold you accountable. If you have someone who’ll check on you, it’s easier to stick to the commitment you made and to remember your reasons why.
> Another helpful tip is to put everything into your calendar. Every night, plan out your schedule or review it for the next day.
But remember - baby steps, please!
What To Do If Your Routine Needs Tweaking
Even with the best of intentions, and a wonderful accountability partner, there may still come a day when you realize you’ve let your physical self-care slip.
One of the most important parts of self-care is being able to recognize when you need to tweak it. Because, as you know, if you neglect your own self-care, even a little, you can experience burnout.
If you find yourself feeling worn down, and you’d swear your routine isn’t working, I’d like you to pause and reflect. Perhaps you’ve been letting your physical self-care go little by little, until the cumulative effect has snuck up on you.
Or maybe you just need to tweak the activities in your routine so they’re more in line with your goal.
Please don’t just convince yourself that it’s not working, then abandon it. You deserve nurturing. You likely just need to fine-tune your self-care to feel better and bring yourself back from burnout.
You can also sign up for my mailing list to receive regular tips and advice for getting out of burnout and back into balance.
What Are Your Favorite Physical Self-Care Ideas?
Even if you don’t already have a physical self-care routine, you already know what sounds enticing to you.
You may be someone who would adore going for a walk alone in the woods. Or luxuriating in a spa day with a massage and pedicure.
What would feel best to you? If you could wave a magic wand, what kind of self-care would you get?
Given your current commitments, what one pleasurable self-care action could you take right now?