It seems to never fail: you plan in advance a couple of days off, and what happens that first day? You get sick. It shouldn’t be a surprise, really, as we tend to push ourselves for SO long and so hard that by the time your body finally has a chance to breathe, it’s so exhausted that it shuts down.
That’s exactly what happened to us last week. Well, sort of.
We finally planned 2 days off and by 2pm on the first day, Remi got sent home with a fever. By that evening, she had a cold. By the next day, she was vomiting like crazy. The next morning we woke up with a cold which only got worse. Needless to say, our 2-day off vacation turned into a 6-day “everyone gets sick!” fest.
But that’s how it seems to go. We’ve been pushing probably a bit too hard that we couldn’t fend off the impending cold which we’re bound to get. Anyone who has / has had a toddler knows: they aren’t great at covering their coughs and sneezes, and when you’re getting vomited on a few times a day, you’re lucky if you make it out unscathed.
In chatting with one of our lovely clients this morning and rehashing why it seems we get sick the second we take some time off, we both agreed it’s because the expectations we set on ourselves – and that others place on us – are far too intense to sustain for any long period of time. Which is fancy for saying: we work too hard.
But while it’s easy to say “just take more time off” it isn’t always realistic. So we spent some time thinking after our conversation and came up with a few tips of ways in which we can try and prevent massive burnout – or at least burnout that turns into sickness.
1. Schedule a monthly personal-development day. Register for a webinar or find some videos to learn / improve your skills, and take a day to focus on growing yourself and your business. This allows you still to be productive while not focusing on client tasks all day and will allow your body to recharge a bit. (Bonus tip: treat yourself to a coffee or lunch as a reward for taking that time for yourself)
2. Schedule at least one day off every 6 weeks. As much as we’d like to say “do this more” (hey, if you can – do it!) it’s not always the reality. We love scheduling days in the middle of the week as it just seems to be more calm and more enjoyable. This is something we’re going to be focusing harder on the rest of the year as it is really beneficial for everyone.
3. If you can, schedule a massage. We had gotten into the habit of going weekly (we had really good insurance coverage for a while!) but we know that’s not sustainable or realistic for everyone. If you’re able to go monthly or even bi-monthly, make it a priority. Not only will it relieve an immense amount of stress that’s been building up, but it’ll also help alleviate some of that soreness that comes from working at a desk. We are massive believers in the powers of massage and rely heavily on them, but it takes trial and error to find that perfect massage therapist. Don’t be afraid to “shop around” until you find that perfect one!
4. Go for daily walks. Starting your morning, or taking a mid-morning break, with even a 30-minute walk helps clear the mind and prepare yourself for the day. If you aren’t a fan of walks (to each their own!), any form of exercise – even slow Yoga or lifting the heaviest weights at the gym – will have that same effect. Essentially, anything that will clear your mind from work and help you feel your absolute best.
5. Stop being accessible in your “off time”. This will turn into a whole other blog post eventually, but the gist of it is: to stop always being available. The pandemic has actually ruined remote work for many of us as it seems people now believe that all remote workers are always at their disposal – which isn’t the case. If you have set working hours, stick to them. There’s nothing that is THAT much of an emergency that it can’t wait until the next day. Opting to “just check one more email” will let your higher-ups believe that you’re always available after-hours and that you’re falling short if you don’t reply. Working after-hours should be the exception, not the rule.
Let’s continue to support one another in shifting the mindset to being that our personal well-being comes first and isn’t subject to others’ pressures or expectations. Especially if you are an entrepreneur, setting your boundaries and working hours (and sticking to them!) are keys to longevity and healthy work life.