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?

5 travel challenges for an introvert

backlit-1870004_1920I adore traveling solo. I love immersing myself in a completely different culture. It’s such an educational, enjoyable, and addicting experience. But as I learned during my overseas trip last year, there are a lot of challenges too.

1. Lots of people
When traveling to any well-known attraction there will likely be other people who have the same idea. To avoid this, I would go early in the morning (I’d be out the door by 7 AM). This helped to circumvent the massive crowds. It also made for some pretty beautiful photos, sans tourists in the background. Fushimi Inari and the bamboo grove in Arashiyama (both in Kyoto) are enjoyed best in the early hours.

2. Language barrier
Asking for directions becomes more challenging and intimidating when you don’t speak the language. Learning a few phrases and common questions can help you connect with the locals. I memorized the phrase “_______ wa doko desu ka” which means “where is _______?”. Filling in the blank for whatever place/location you’re looking for. It helped a lot and people were pretty happy I was attempting to speak Japanese. Mobile apps for translation and key phrases are also helpful.

3. Unfamiliar streets
Unless it’s a repeat trip, the streets and alleyways will all look unfamiliar. While in Japan I often couldn’t read the street names as they are written in kanji. But thanks to google maps, I was able to navigate to all my destinations even if I couldn’t read the signs. Having access to either a wifi router or SIM card was a huge lifesaver and decreased my stress.

4. So much overwhelm
It’s hard to adapt to an environment full of different languages, personalities, street signs, and customs. It’s easy to shift from feeling okay to burned out in a matter of minutes. This means you have to take extra care of yourself. I go to bed early whenever possible. I schedule in at least two full meals so I’m not running on empty. I always bring water with me to stay hydrated. At the end of the day I like to reflect and write down the day’s events. It helps me unwind and process things.

5. Not enough time
As an introvert I have limited energy. I can’t do it all. It can be disappointing when you have to miss out on things because you’re burned out. But you can create “quiet day” itineraries for when you need them. Or work quiet time into your daily schedule for a quick recharge. Do things at your own pace and don’t blame yourself for not being able to see everything. Create a travel experience that is meaningful to you.

Where would you like to travel?

5 roommate tips

people-2561065_1920I wrote an earlier post here on roommate challenges. They’re definitely still there but I had a good conversation with my roommate last night and I’m hopeful. I can’t remember how it began. But we ended up talking about our differences in energy and how much social time we need. I’m hoping I was able to articulate how essential quiet time is for me. It’s also helped me better understand how she functions. It was comfortable and hopefully leads to some small positive changes. I wanted to share a few things that have helped me and given me a more balanced perspective on things.

1. Communication is key.
This is vital in any relationship but especially if you live with the person. I need to tell her when I’m feeling burned out and that I’ll be recharging for a couple of hours. That way she won’t feel like I’m purposely avoiding her. Having a self-deprecating, “it’s me, not you” kind of attitude can help too.

2. Door closed = quiet time.
If I want to be alone, I shut my door. That’s the signal that I’m recharging or busy. I also hang a sign on my door with a cute illustration and the words “recharging – do not disturb”. I’m also working to create a peaceful oasis in my room for maximum relaxation.

3. Reset your perspective.
As an introvert, dealing with an extrovert’s chattiness can be a challenge. But it’s just as challenging for an extrovert to deal with an introvert’s aloofness and not take it personally. Extroverts need to socialize as much as we need them to leave us alone. When you have a roommate, the shared spaces are no longer places to recharge. They become the social hub. So if I’m in the living room, it’s because I’m mentally prepared to talk.

4. Find other escapes.
Shutting the door isn’t the only way to get alone time. I like to go for long walks after supper for some much needed quiet time and reflection. Even a solo gym or coffee date can help me decompress as well.

5. Compromise.
I need a lot of quiet time and I will take what I need. But I value my friendship with her and don’t want her to feel that she’s living with a stranger. So every night I’ll spend some time with her. We’ll either eat dinner together or chat for a bit before bed. We get to connect and I still get my quiet time.

Any other ideas?

7 tips for social events

girls-984154_1920The next couple of weekends are going to be busy ones. I’m planning on getting plenty of quiet time between the chaos. This should help me avoid total burnout. But I also wanted to share a few things I’m going to do to manage my energy so I can enjoy myself.

1. Know your limits.
I’ve gotten better at recognizing how much energy I have left at a given moment. I know when I can stay for another 30 minutes vs when my tank is empty. I also give myself a flexible departure time. If I’m feeling great, I’ll stay longer. Otherwise I’ll head home.

2. Get quiet time first.
This is a lifesaver. Before I leave for an event, I like to spend at least 30 minutes by myself. I usually run my diffuser with some lavender while reading a book. This gives me the chance to recharge before a busy night out. Getting some post-event quiet is also necessary.

3. Wear your favorites.
I love the satisfaction I get from putting together an outfit with my favorite items. I know they look flattering and I love the colors and styles. It definitely gives me a mental boost and makes me feel more confident. And if I’m going to a social event, I need all the help I can get 😉

4. Assume a role.
I love doing this. I’ll often volunteer to help set up (this also gives me an excuse to leave early). Or I’ll offer to pour drinks, set the table, put out food, or act as unofficial photographer. It allows me to focus on a task while still being part of things. As a bonus, you come across as helpful.

5. Make a to-do list.
I hate walking into a room and having no idea what to do. So I make myself a to-do list. First I’ll explore the area and locate the exits, washrooms, and quiet spaces. Then I’ll peruse the room and see who might be interesting to talk to. I’ll locate the food/drink and spend a moment eating while I plan out my next move. Then I’ll take a quick bathroom break to clear my mind. Once I’m back, I’ll join a conversation.

6. Take breaks.
When I start feeling fuzzy, I’ll usually take a trip to the washroom. Even perusing the books on a bookshelf can create a moment of quiet in a busy room.

7. Leave on a positive note.
I’ll usually thank the host/hostess, let them know I enjoyed myself, and head off. I try to leave with a smile, even if I’m not feeling it. If its a large gathering I’ll usually leave quietly and send a follow up thank you.

Do you have any other tips?

The final campout

campfire-1031141_1920This past long weekend was awesome. After a quiet day of work on Friday, I drove home and met up with my brother. We packed our camping supplies into the van, loaded the food into a cooler, and drove for an hour or so to a little community hall in the middle of nowhere. There we joined a number of friends who were busily setting up their tents, sitting by the camp fire, or strolling around the grassy clearing.

The next few days were full of activity, great conversation, and catching up. I had been looking forward to this weekend since last year and it didn’t disappoint. I find that the more I go camping, the easier it is to develop strategies to maintain my energy. These tips from a prior post came in handy too.

In the mornings, I made a point of getting up early. I’d go for a walk to a nearby creek and would sit for a while, soaking in the quiet stillness of the morning. Once I felt refreshed, I would head back to the main hall where I’d make myself a cup of coffee. I’d sit at the back of the hall, sipping my coffee and reading. As people started to drift inside, and the noise level increased, I’d put away my book and start breakfast. I also made a point of going to bed earlier than most. I may have missed out on a few late night card games, but I was willing to make that sacrifice. I need to be well rested if I’m going to enjoy myself.

There were a few planned activities: games for the kids, a softball game, and a dance. I helped out with the kids games but decided to watch the softball game instead of playing. Being an observer is a completely acceptable option and I wanted to save up my energy for the dance later that evening. The dance was fantastic. My friend and I got to display our newly-learned dance moves. Although we messed up a few times throughout the night, it was a really fun and relaxing evening. They also had a few line dances and group dances to get everyone involved, regardless of skill level.

I love spending time with people. As an introvert, close friends and family make life so enjoyable. I really do treasure and value the connections that come from spending quality time with those I love. Although I definitely needed a lot of quiet time afterwards to restore myself after such a busy event!

How was your long 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?