How to not burn out when you're on fire
December 23, 2023
If there's ever a time of year when people are in danger of burn out, it's during the holiday season. As a small business owner, burn out is something that has plagued me pretty much every season. It's only since I was diagnosed as having ADHD that I became aware of my pattern of "being on fire" for weeks at a time and then suddenly feeling completely burned out and unable to function at all for days or weeks.
This pattern of being on fire then burning out was taking its toll on my mental and physical health. If I wanted to continue to work into my old age, I knew I was going to have to make some lifestyle changes.
After speaking with several of my friends and customers, I noticed that we all had something in common: we would neglect our self care until after we were experiencing burn out. It was only after we got sick that we would take our supplements or drink the water that we know is so important. It was only after we had an emotional break down that we would resume our meditation practices or unplug from our devices and spend time outdoors.
What might be common knowledge for my neurotypical peeps was a revelation for me: if you add fuel to a fire it will continue to burn. If I wanted to continue to be productive and creative, if I wanted to stay on fire, I simply needed to add fuel. In my case, "fuel" isn't fuel in the traditional sense although eating well is important. Fuel can also be meditation, breath work and sunshine. Fuel is definitely quality sleep and making sure my body experiences movement. Fuel is the opposite of working all day without eating, without drinking water or using the bathroom. Every time I do an act of self care, I picture another log being added to the fire to keep it going. And sometimes doing absolutely nothing for a day adds fuel to my fire.
However, as any neuro-spicy person will attest, it's not easy to stop to add fuel when we're on fire. When I'm inspired, motivated and feeling creative, I have to set timers to remind myself to eat, drink water or use the bathroom. When I'm on fire, food and water are for mere mortals. Alas, I am only human so I must feed the fire.
If you're feeling the holiday burn out creeping up on you, don't wait until you're completely burned out to make changes. Pay attention to the signals your body is sending you and take action before you crash and burn.
And don't forget to breathe.
Sarah and her husband, John Nelson, own the Healthy Hippie Trading Co. in the Old Town area of Tehachapi as well as running their plumbing business, John the Plumber.