Not that these competitors were burnt out. In fact, many of them are just ramping up to go to regionals, so are completely motivated and in peak physical condition, but I know that Ben has been feeling like he needs a mental and physical break from the "competition season," and that burnout can happen to anyone in any activity or field. I often see yogis who get burnt out, usually physically, who need to take a break from their typical practice to let their bodies rest or heal. Often this is caused by overuse or incorrect alignment injuries, but also by sickness and exhaustion, for those "go-go-go" types who push themselves to their edge every day, doing long, advanced practices on a daily basis without ever giving themselves a day off, or a day for a more gentle practice.
Similarly, we all know that this happens at work for many people, when ramping up for a big project, event, or presentation, or when trying to meet a big deadline. Often we eat, sleep, and breathe whatever it is that we're giving ourselves to, whether it's work, a yoga teacher training, getting ready for a marathon, or a CrossFit competition, and somewhere along the way, or often when it's over, we find ourselves completely burnt out. What to do when this happens? Here are some of my favorite ways to fight burnout (physical, mental, and/or emotional!):
1. Take a staycation. Trust me--it works! This means a day that you call in to work (if you don't work for yourself!) and do absolutely nothing. Stay in bed all day if you want. Read a book. Watch a movie. Get a mani/pedi. Go to a coffee shop with the newspaper and stay there all morning. Whatever you want! Just make it a day of rest and a day of doing nothing.
2. Give yourself a week off from whatever is causing your burnout. If you can't do a week, do a couple of days. If you can't do a couple of days, do at least 1 day (see #1, above!). But if possible, take a week. This means if you're a yogi struggling from a tweaky wrist or shoulder, take a week off from your active yoga practice. This doesn't mean you can't still do yoga, but it means you need to take some time off of an active practice, off of chaturanga and down dog. So do legs up the wall at home. Go to a restorative or yin class. Hang out in pigeon when you get home from work, or work on your meditation practice. Read yoga books if you want. Just give yourself some time off from your normal yoga routine!
4. Pamper yourself. If you're suffering from any kind of burnout, taking care of yourself will make a big difference. This means get a massage, go to a restorative yoga class, go to a spa and get a few treatments, take a long bubble bath while listening to calming music, or take a blanket to the park, bring a book, and relax in the sun (wearing SPF, of course!). Schedule a dinner date at your favorite restaurant, or enjoy a scoop of your favorite ice cream while watching your favorite movie in your PJs. Do whatever it is that helps you unwind, and let yourself enjoy it! Let everything else go and just enjoy the moment.
5. Do something creative in order to reflect and unwind. This could be writing in a journal, painting or collaging, doing a craft or DIY project, taking a walk with your camera and capturing inspiring images, writing a poem, or playing an instrument. Whatever it is that inspires and feeds you! You will be amazed at how different you feel after taking some time to create :)
6. Mix things up--do another activity or project! If you're burnt out from training for a marathon or doing CrossFit, but still want to be active, mix things up by taking a yoga class, going on a long walk or leisurely bike ride with a friend, or going for a swim. If you're mentally burnt out from a specific project at work, turn your attentions to cleaning your office, tacking some of those long-standing "to-dos" that you never actually handle, or grab a coworker and head outside for a walk or a long lunch in the sun. Take a break to do something different, and when you come back, you'll be a lot more motivated to get back to what you're doing.
7. If you can, take a vacation. A real vacation. As in, go out of town and leave everything behind for a little while. Pretty self-explanatory, right?
I hope this gives you some ideas!
I'll definitely be doing some of these things myself over the coming weeks as I try to heal my body and this injury, once and for all--and I think Ben will be joining me, as he said the following to one of our coaches after his last event on Sunday: "Okay. Now can I relax? I don't want to push myself like this again until at least July." Hehe! The poor guy needs a break!!!
I hope this inspires you to give yourself a break when you need it, too!
So here's to taking time off when we need it...