Updated: Sep 9, 2021
Some days it’s hard to live life stress free. There's so many ways we are expected to live our lives in a way that benefits not only us but others around us, and some days we just want things to slow down. But how do we navigate that feeling of uncertainty or negativity, and better yet – how do we get over these feelings before they get to burnout?
I believe it partly comes down to how we assess our situations, and where we prioritise those situations in a particular point of our lives.
People say I take on more than I can chew, or at least I am very eager to experience a wide range of things and help others to the point where I myself can get overworked. But what if taking on these things are things I enjoy? Am I meant to say no to things I don’t enjoy just because I can’t find time for them?
And my answer to that is – never say no to something that brings you joy, as long as you can prioritise it amongst your current activities.
The risk of burning out is extremely high for everyone, especially in this extremely challenging environment and world we now live in. The global pandemic is one addition to the massive list of reasons why we feel stressed or overworked – but the pandemic is not the cause. We as a social species experience burnout and stress alarmingly regularly. 53% of millennials were burned out pre-COVID19, and remain the most affected population at 59%. Gen-Z is now neck and neck though, at 58% burnout which is scarily close (click here for the reference).
I won’t go into the science of stress and burnout, although it is vitally important to understand. I highly recommend delving into this as well to further understand it. By exploring ways we feel stressed every day and what contributes to it, we can potentially help stopping it from going further into a complete burnout or breakdown.
I am a yes person. I love pleasing others, mainly because I love seeing the happiness it brings once the particular activity is done. I also don’t like letting anyone down. I know this is potentially a common feeling for lots of people.
I read a book around the science of ‘not giving a f**k’. Pretty self-explanatory from the title I know, but it really opened my eyes to how we can start saying no to things that don’t offer us value, because at the end of the day the only opinion that matters is our own.
But I started thinking…what if everything I’m currently doing does add value? How do I hold up one thing I really enjoy over another if that list gets too high?
And take the mix of being a yes person with having a very social, extroverted nature – you get a very high risk of burnout.
It only took being at the brink of burnout for me to realise that something needed to change.
And maybe it wasn’t just about having to say no to things don’t add value, but being honest with the amount of time, money or energy I could dedicate myself to these things.
Thinking about it, it’s impossible for one person to devote an equal amount of time to the priorities in their life. Our social lives, relationships, family, work, extracurricular activities all play a part in these. If we were to dedicate equal amounts of time to each of these 100% of the time, where do we find that time for ourselves?
So I proposed these tips for me to trial this for myself:
1. My health and wellbeing is the most important thing I need to take into account first.
2. If I do not have time for a particular activity during the week, be honest and maybe spare 30mins for a catch-up rather than a full on dinner. There’s always time to have more catch-ups in the future.
3. The instant I feel things escalating to the brink of stress, I dial back and reduce the time, energy and money I spend on activities for a couple days.
4. Being honest with what I can spare for activities. If it’s money, then go for something that is free. If time and energy, go back to tip #2.
5. Have regular conversations with the people in your life who your decisions involve. What I can spare, what I can’t, make solutions not problems.
These will be a work in progress, especially for someone like myself who is not used to saying no. But the important thing to get out of this is – you are not saying no, you are better prioritising things in your life so you can make sure you maintain those awesome relationships and connections with things you enjoy rather than cutting them off completely.
Remember – the most important person you need to prioritise in your life is you. We need connections and relationships as a social species to live and be happy, but at the end of the day if you are a happier, stress-free person, those people around you and activities you participate in will be happier too.