5 Steps to Recover from Burnout

Written by BITE Coach Catharine Adams

Have you been in a place where you’ve been so overwhelmed with life you have lost your drive to do what you used to enjoy? Do normal every day things feel like too much? Is your training motivation at an all-time low? I’ve been in this place, and it was not that long ago. It can be really tough to accept your personal struggle and find your way back to being happy and fulfilled. I’ve done it though, I found my way back.

At the end of 2016 I found myself completely worn down from a couple of years of burning the candle at both ends. I was struggling to find the motivation to train and eat well, never mind everything else I needed to take care of. How did I get to this place? I was exhausted and felt mentally beat up. As a mom, wife, coach, teacher and entrepreneur I definitely felt (and still sometimes feel) the weight of the world on my shoulders.

Everyone around me became a priority over myself. It became a habit to skip training so I could do all the other things in my life that needed to get done. There were many days the kids would be off to school and in what seemed a few minutes later, I was still sitting at my desk and they were back. I spent many days struggling with finding time to read emails, do banking, and get kids to where they needed to be, never mind time to plan my own training and meal planning. Oh wait, what about the laundry? Yeah, that didn’t happen regularly either.

My sleep was a complete wreck. Working from home can be a real blessing, as long as you have boundaries. Answering emails and posts at all hours of the day for a few years does not set up for a good work/life balance. This lack of commitment to myself along with lax boundaries didn’t seem like a big deal at first. But month after month of ignoring my needs left me unmotivated to train. And the less I trained, the more I lost touch with what actually makes me happy. I started feeling guilty, tired and overwhelmed. Not really the place any of us wants to find ourselves. I knew something needed to change. I needed to build the foundation of a healthy mind and body. I couldn’t do that on 1500 steps/day, too many hours of work and no sleep.

I was very fortunate when my previous employment came to a close. Yes, I was sad to leave some dear co-workers and clients, but it was time to move on. This gave me the space and time to really think about how I wanted to lead my life – get the balance back into my life. There is no coincidence the B in BITE stands for “balance”. I knew I loved my job helping others but I definitely didn’t have boundaries set so I could manage long term. I dearly love my family too, but again, I would drop everything and anything to meet their needs.

We are bombarded with all the things we “should do” for ourselves too, which can be counter-intuitive. I found I couldn’t train, meditate, walk, ROM-WOD, yoga, and do all those “in” things along with making whole food breakfast, lunch and dinner for my crew. I realized I couldn’t do it all but that caused a huge sense of guilt too.

Personally, this took a toll on me. Through a lot of soul searching I realized I needed to give myself forgiveness, time and a lot of self love. My husband has been an emergency responder for his whole career, and he often reminds me about the safety protocols in airplanes. He says, “When the oxygen mask drops down you are to place it on yourself FIRST so you can help others after. You are no good to others if you can’t breathe and die.”

I want to be the ultimate loving wife and mother along with a badass fit coach, but I had lost my drive somewhere along the way. I had lost myself in the mix of taking care of everyone else. I have the potential of being a great wife, mother and coach but my batteries can’t be dead. It’s not my family, client or previous employer’s fault. Not at all. It was and is, mine. I let it get to the point where I was sacrificing myself. I didn’t set the boundaries I needed.

Fast forward several months later, I’m on a great path and I’m SO excited about my future. How did I get here after feeling so low? I could probably go on for hours (and feel free to message me if you want to chat) but here are my top five tips for getting your mojo back.

#1: Put YOURSELF first

I put ME first each and every day. This has been life changing. Decide on the realistic elements you need in your life to get you back feeling whole and rested. With my handy dandy Panda Planner, I made ME the first priority each day – and I actually write down that I am priority #1. I must admit, this isn’t something that came easily. It often felt like two steps forward, one step back.

#2: Get back to the basics

I had to get back to the core elements that would make me happy. For me, it was just basic healthy habits – regular balanced meals, sleep, hydration and…can you believe it….NOT weight training. I focused first on just moving (not sitting at the computer hours on end) and at the same time, not feeling guilty about not training. I had to rest, get outside as much as possible and recover well. The first couple months my self care essentially had me walking with the dog/s, eating and sleeping. I wrote down all the things that were overwhelming me, and made a plan to either tackle them or decide they weren’t a priority. Sleep was a big one for me — I’ve made a sleep plan and have stuck with it.

#3: Setting boundaries

Next was planning. My work is primarily online. I used to follow up on all my work notifications and emails within a very short amount of time. Given I could wake up to 100-150 facebook notifications/messages at 5am (after clearing them all out at 11pm the night before), then accumulate another couple hundred during the day, this was a huge task. Now, I schedule my facebook/email for a specific time. I sign out of facebook or turn my phone off so I don’t get overwhelmed with notifications. When it’s work time, I’m focused on work, not trying to multi-task while cooking dinner or helping with homework. At home, I’m asking my kids to do more. I have made a schedule where I designate an hour and a half a day to do what needs to be done in my house, with a little extra on the weekends. If I’m not finished, I leave it or ask for help. I have gotten into the habit of being okay with a messy kitchen here and there, and asking for more help from my family. I’m also saying no to events or occasions at times when participating would have me frazzled. Saying no is hard, but it does get easier!

#4: Begin with the end in mind

I marked on my calendar each passing month to reassess where I’m at, and where I want to be. I didn’t want one month to lead to the next without specific check in dates. By the end of the 1st month of focusing on some basics of self love, I was feeling much more engaged in my own personal development. By the 2nd, I was ready to get back to the gym. But more importantly, I felt better, had more energy, and essentially felt more like myself. Is my strength and body composition back to where I was prior to being overworked and overwhelmed? Nope, not yet. But I’m well on my way as I have a much more realistic and strong foundation.

#5: Find your tribe

This is a big one. If you do nothing else, find a group of people who will support and encourage you through the good and bad times. Your tribe can hold you accountable, help you come up with solutions, cheer your victories and throw an arm around your shoulders when you’re feeling down. Whether your tribe is in-person, online, or some combination of both, having that support can be the difference between making measurable progress and treading water day after day. If you don’t have a tribe already, we’d be honored to have you join our social group. It’s a fun group of amazingly supportive and positive folks and one of my favorite places to hang out. Just head here and click the “Join Group” button and we’ll get you added ASAP.

Remember, you can’t take care of those around you if you don’t take care of yourself first.  Tweet This!


Catharine Adams is the co-founder of BITE Nutrition, personal trainer and PN1 certified nutrition coach. Combined with her extensive background and experience, her collaborative and positive approach produces results. She believes that with the proper guidance, commitment, and dedication, anyone can achieve their goals. Want to work with Catharine? Sign up here!

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