An absurdly busy week

woman-1839798_1920I’m still in recovery mode.

Two weeks ago, I had a friend come to visit for a week. I thought things would be okay. After all, we’re both introverts. They were staying with another friend, so I’d have plenty of quiet time to recharge and things would be fine. But life rarely goes as planned.

I had trouble falling asleep Tuesday evening before they arrived. Consequently, I was very tired on Wednesday, using caffeine to keep myself functioning. I picked them up at the airport at 8 PM, we grabbed some food, then I dropped them off and headed home.

I was still working normal hours so we met up after work. Thursday was dinner and an escape room with friends. We stayed in for supper on Friday but I was so tired I dropped them off early before coming back and crashing. Saturday to Monday was full of driving. We traveled the city and countryside so they could play tourist. It also involved less frequent meals, which didn’t help my lack of energy.

By Tuesday I was a mess. I was desperately trying to be social and hospitable but failing. We got supper that evening and they wanted to watch a movie. The thought of anything stimulating made me want to cry. But I forced myself to sit through the two hours, then left right after. By the time I dropped them off at the airport on Wednesday, I was done. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy they came to visit. But I didn’t have enough quiet time during that week to stay functional.

As an introvert, things in life need to be balanced. If one thing is off I can still function fairly well. But if multiple things shift, things can get rough. The combination of stress, exhaustion, lack of good sleep, fatigue, and hunger led to total burnout.

The following week was pure recovery. Other than work and grocery shopping, I didn’t go anywhere. I slept as much as possible. I didn’t make plans. I soaked up the quiet. I also took time to do the things I neglected the previous week. Reading quietly, working on creative projects, and scheduling important tasks for the coming week.

I’m still not at 100% right now but I’m working on it. How is your week going?

Finally slowing down

adult-2178904_1920I hope everyone had a great long weekend! This whole summer feels like a blur. Events and activities filled nearly every weekend. And while I squeezed in as much quiet time as I could, I was still fighting burnout for months. I’ve only now just caught my breath and started to take things easier.

There’s nothing planned this weekend and I already feel myself relaxing. I’m still enjoying summery weather, although the cool temperatures at night already feel like autumn. I have a few post ideas for the next few weeks that I’m excited to share. I’ve missed connecting with you all. Hope you have a great evening!

9 Ways to recover from burnout

beach-woman-1149088_1920This is my third and final post on the topic of social events. In a perfect world, I’d have plenty of time to prepare for an event, I’d pace myself, and I’d leave with energy to spare. Unfortunately, real life rarely goes according to plan. I wanted to share a few things I do after a social event to recharge.

1. Put things away.
As soon as I get home, I put away everything I’ve brought with me. I hang up my coat, put my shoes in the closet, and tuck away my bag. This is sometimes hard when all I feel like doing is falling into my bed. But keeping my room clean makes me feel better.

2. Don’t overanalyze.
Don’t beat yourself up over what you may have said or done. There will be time for self-reflection later. Don’t dwell on the negatives. Focus on giving yourself time to recharge.

3. Recharge.
Take the quiet time you need. Make sure you’re alone. Do things that make you feel happy and refreshed. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. You’re worth taking care of.

4. Laugh.
Laughter is great for stress relief and I always feel so much better after watching a funny movie or comedy videos on Youtube.

5. Mentally prepare for future interaction.
You’ll have to eventually go to work, interact with family, grocery shop, etc. Mentally prepare yourself to interact with people. Or take measures to minimize your energy drain. A pair of headphones helps shut out most of the chatter at the grocery store. And self-checkouts are a lifesaver.

6. Connect with loved ones.
As both introverts and human beings, we crave meaningful connections. Take the alone time you need. But take time afterward to connect with those you care about.

7. Create an oasis in your home.
Make a space in your home that can be used for quiet. Put things in it that you love. My favourite place is a comfy armchair in my room. It’s draped with cozy throws and pillows. I love curling up in it while reading a good book. If that’s not possible, a quiet spot outside can work beautifully too.

8. Take lots of small breaks.
It’s usually not feasible to disappear for days or weeks on end. Try to work quiet time into your daily schedule. It will help keep you refreshed throughout the week. Some things I enjoy doing include light reading before bed, going for a walk, working out, dancing, cooking while listening to my favourite podcast, planning out my week, and taking care of my herb garden.

9. Don’t feel guilty.
Being introverted is a gift and is just as wonderful as being extroverted. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Also, there’s nothing wrong with you. You aren’t defective or somehow less of a person because of the way you function. You are an incredible individual with so much potential.

Do you have any other tips or tricks?

5 signs of burnout

tokyo-2805508_1920In my last post, I talked about ways you can prepare for social events. I wanted to continue with this theme. Sometimes it can be hard to tell when you’re starting to get burned out (other times it’s pretty obvious). I wanted to share a few things to look for.

1. Easily irritated.
Normally minor annoyances don’t bother me. I usually ignore them. But when I’m getting burned out, my tolerance level is pretty low and I feel like snapping at people.

2. Brain fog.
It feels like there’s a haze over my thoughts. I can’t think clearly and it takes me a long time to process anything. I usually speak slower than normal and can’t always find the words I’m looking for. My sentences will often trail off before I finish them because I’ve forgotten what I want to say. Even small decisions like “what do you want to eat” become difficult. I usually end up zoning out of conversations.

3. Feeling ill.
When I get burned out, I get headaches, sore muscles, fatigue, and nausea. The more burned out I am, the worse it is. But even minor burnout makes me feel unwell.

4. Exhaustion.
As burnout sets in, I start feeling more tired than normal, but it quickly progresses to total body sluggishness and fatigue. Just staying on my feet becomes a difficult task. All I can focus on is moving forward. Conversation becomes impossible.

5. Need to be alone.
When I’m burned out I just want to be alone. I’ll sometimes get panicky or feel trapped if I’m surrounded by people and there’s no immediate escape.

If you’re feeling burned out, and you can’t leave, there are still a few things you can do to help. Take breaks as needed. Take a short walk outside, move to a less crowded area, spend some time in a washroom stall, or plug your headphones in and drown out the surrounding noise. Also, make sure you’re taking care of yourself physically too. Get plenty of sleep beforehand, stay hydrated, and eat when you’re hungry. It may not solve the problem, but it can keep it from getting worse.

Do you have any other tips?

Life in fast forward

reading-925589_1920I wanted to share a quick update to let you know I’m still alive. I was hoping things would slow down after the wedding. And in a way, they did. I ended up getting sick and fighting a cold for a week or so. Likely a result of late nights and long travel days. But as I recovered, things shifted into overdrive.

This week has been fun but draining. Monday and Tuesday I had dance class. The first is a partner dance, the second is solo. Dance is a creative and emotional outlet for me and it helps with stress relief. But it’s still a social activity. Tonight, I’m skyping with an out of country friend. I’m looking forward to it but it’s still draining. Thursday is a games night at my place with a few close friends. There will only be four of us and shouldn’t be too bad. I can always check out early if I need to. Friday afternoon is free of social activity but I still have errands to run. This weekend will have a few social obligations but I’m hoping I can keep them on the shorter side. I’ve been doing my best to squeeze in quiet time before bed. But I need more time to fully recover. Right now it feels like I’m treading water. I’m planning on spending a couple of hours on Sunday going for a quiet walk along the river. I may also bring a book. I think that will help a lot.

On the plus side, the weather here has improved dramatically and it seems spring may actually be on the way. It’s also been wonderfully sunny and bright which always makes me smile.

Do you have any plans this weekend? How have you been doing?

Needing quiet

woman-1958723_1920We’ve been down a person at work this week. As a result, everyone has been a lot busier and I’ve been answering far more phone calls than I’d like. Monday was the worst. After a hectic day of dealing with clients, I went home to do some much-needed food prep.

Now I love making food. It’s relaxing and a great way to unwind. Not so when your roommate camps out in the kitchen for the entire three hours you’re cooking. She didn’t have anything that required the kitchen. She just wanted to be social. By the end of it, my half-hearted replies weren’t even coherent and I wanted to curl up in a ball. I made my escape as soon as I finished up the dishes.

When I’m overwhelmed my brain doesn’t function. I can’t explain how I’m feeling. I can’t think or analyze. Emotions, feelings, irritability, and frustration ebb and flow in my mind. I can’t piece out in words replies to normal questions or comments. And unfortunately, telling my roommate I’ve had a busy day and am feeling dead isn’t enough for her to lay off.

To counteract the overwhelm, I went full anti-social on Tuesday and Wednesday after work. It was a success! I felt so much better. I did have a Tango class on Wednesday night. But I love dance class, so it’s not something that’s too draining.

But it was a good reminder of how delicate the balance is between quiet and noise. With a busy spring and summer coming up I need to be more aware and proactive about taking the quiet time I need.

How’s your week going?

Another busy one

coffee-2592791_1920Busy weekends can be fun. But they inevitably lead to stress down the road. This past Friday and Saturday were hectic. Both days were filled with lots of people, loud conversations, and long hours of driving with passengers. By Saturday night I was completely drained both physically and mentally. Sunday was a slight improvement but I still spent the better part of the day with my roommate as we grocery shopped and food prepped.

Then the work week started again on Monday. I knew my roommate would be home early that day. So I decided to head to the gym for a workout and some much needed endorphins. It was awesome. But as soon as I walked into our place, she started chattering at me, and my mind blanked.

You know the feeling of total burnout? When you hear something but you don’t comprehend it. She kept stating random things about her day and expecting some kind of response. But my mind was so frazzled I couldn’t come up with anything in reply. I replied with, “oh” and “yeah”. But all I could think of was “I don’t care” and how much I needed to escape. I just couldn’t do it. So after a few moments of awkward conversation I headed to my room to recharge. Fortunately I’ve had two days of relative quiet to recover and I’m doing a lot better now. But it was a good reminder of my limits.

How was your weekend?

On high sensitivity & overwhelm

cherry-tree-984545_1920As a highly sensitive person, I react strongly to both physical and emotional stimulus. Put me in a brightly lit, loud, crowded location filled with strong scents and emotions and I’ll become overwhelmed and burned out in a short space of time.

When this happens, my brain gets fuzzy and I struggle to focus. Nothing sinks in and I can’t collect my thoughts. Words refuse to come and I’ll usually stumble over the most basic of sentences.

I’ve noticed there are a few stages to over-stimulation. I’m sure you’ll recognize some or all of these. Depending on my energy levels starting out, this process can take several hours, or several minutes.

Stage 1 – I’m feeling great.
I’m excited to be here. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to and I’m energized. I’m likely circulating with my friends and meeting new people. I also enjoy one-on-one conversations about interesting topics.

Stage 2 – Starting to get drained.
I’m getting a little tired but still doing alright. I’ll probably grab a few snacks from the food table. I’ll keep circulating and being social. But I’ll start thinking about when I can head home.

Stage 3 – Getting fuzzy, let’s take a break.
I’m starting to get irritable. I’ll likely take a bathroom break and spend extra time washing my hands before heading back into the fray. I’ll stay towards the periphery of the room and avoid the crowded areas. I might grab some more food.

Stage 4 – I can last a little bit longer but I want to leave soon.
I’m pretty close to my limit. Ideally, this is when I’d leave to avoid getting completely burned out. I have a little bit of energy left but only enough to say goodbye to my friends.

Stage 5 – I can’t concentrate, time for another break.
I’m at my limit. I’m irritable and miserable and all I want to do is go home. I usually take several more breaks, both to the bathroom or outside. Anything to get away from people.

Stage 6 – This isn’t fun, I need to go home.
I start feeling panicky and trapped. Especially if someone approaches me that I don’t want to speak to (and at this point, it’s everyone). The need to escape is strong. If someone says something upsetting at this stage, I’ll usually get emotional.

Stage 7 – I’m silent but probably still smiling on the outside.
I feel awful. I’m miserable and overwhelmed but I still keep up appearances. I want to look like I’m enjoying myself but I can’t focus on anything. Things are a fuzzy blur. I have no energy left to engage in pleasantries.

Stage 8 – I’m done (you can find me hiding in the bathroom).
Please don’t talk to me or look at me. I can’t hold up my end of a conversation because the words just won’t come. My brain has stopped functioning, except to tell me how anti-social I’m being. I’m miserable and completely burned out.

I used to burn out at nearly every social event I attended. I just couldn’t understand why I wasn’t having fun like everyone else. But since learning more about my introversion and high sensitivity, it’s been easier to take care of myself. Here are a few tips to help slow down burnout.

1. Alone time.
Schedule in alone time both before and after your busy event. This will ensure you’re running on full energy beforehand. It’ll also give you time to unwind afterwards.

2. Stay well fed and hydrated.
Running low on energy is a terrible feeling. Doing so on an empty stomach is even worse. If there’s food at the event, ensure you’re filling up on healthy options and stay refreshed and hydrated. Bring your own snacks and water if they aren’t readily available. It may not stop the overwhelm, but you’ll feel better for longer.

3. Monitor your energy levels.
Keep an eye on how you’re feeling periodically. Take as many breaks as you need and don’t feel guilty if you can’t socialize the whole time. Listen to what your body is telling you and act accordingly.

4. Prepare an exit strategy in advance.
It’s easy to say that we’ll leave an event early. But we often feel obligated to stay longer once we’re there. Have an arrival and departure date in mind and stick to it. You can also plan out what you’re going to say as you leave. If you feel great and want to stay longer, go for it! But take care of yourself first and foremost.

What are your thoughts?