These days many of us are dealing with burnout. We wake up tired and go to bed tired. Work and chores and errands and all the things that need to be done to run a home and do a job and tend to children and pets and keep the bills paid can seem like a never-ending treadmill. Or a ride on the merry-go-round where you can never get off.
For relief you may spend spare moments watching a show or a video, scrolling the news or Instagram or Twitter, or settle in with ice cream or chips, anything to brighten your day or your mood or make you feel for just a few moments that you exist outside of all the demands on your time and energy. You’re too tired to do anything, you reason, so it’s not time wasted. And occasionally a post or a story or something will give you a brief hit of dopamine, a small hit of satisfaction, so you can move on—or you finally put down your phone or tablet or food and feel more depleted than you did before.
One of the best things you can do for your mental health may be to seize a moment and think of one thing you could change in your life. You could rearrange your furniture, clean off a desk. Find a book to keep on your bedside table to start or end your day with. Make a checklist of a few things you know you can do tomorrow. Take a few minutes to stop to pet your dog or cat in the morning or evening. Try a new food. Wear something you haven’t worn for a while.
Develop a mental list of things that recharge your batteries: it may be having a cup of tea with honey and spending ten minutes reading a favorite book, or sitting on your front stoop in the early morning light before anyone is up and just breathing. Or listening to a favorite song or rewatching your favorite Ted Lasso episode.
And give yourself a break, no matter how small. Turn off social media notifications. Take a bath instead of a shower. Walk around the block. Learn to say no.
That last one is so important I’m going to repeat it: Learn to say no.
For you “saying no” may mean saying “I cannot do that right now” or it may mean not answering your phone or emails for a specific period of time. It may mean saying “Please do not talk over me” or turning down an invitation to something.
It means that you value yourself and your mental health enough to know that you need to, deserve to, and are able to say no, to set boundaries. That you don’t have to be everything to everybody all the time, and that you will be more efficient and effective if you stop a moment before saying yes or of course, and you learn to say no.
And at the end of the day learn to forgive yourself for when you have slipped, or erred, or fallen short of what you want or expect of yourself. Give yourself the grace you likely give to others.