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When you're experiencing burnout, that's generally a sign that you need to slow down. But what if you can't? Sometimes, you need to know how to overcome burnout until your work is done (and then, of course, take an epic vacation).
Be warned, though: continuing to work after you've reached the point of burnout will probably make the burnout worse in the long-run, so only do it if you have to, Dr. Emily Anhalt, a psychological consultant specializing in emotional fitness and corporate wellness, tells Bustle. Anhalt suggests first thinking about why you feel the need to power through burnout. Ask yourself: "Is there really something imminently important to deal with? Or perhaps, is there fear of letting someone down? Would realizing that [you] need a break and perhaps support, bring up uncomfortable feelings?"
If you absolutely have to push through, at least schedule time to practice self-care as soon as you can. "Picture being low on gas in a car, but needing to get to an important meeting before filling the tank," says Anhalt. "One would be sure to make time after the meeting to fill the tank, wouldn't they? The same is true for self-care."
Here, 13 women share their strategies for keeping up the hustle even when your energy is dragging.
"[A] sense of obligation to earn money to provide for [my] family. Refilling my inspiration through art and nature. Time off."
"Lots of little breaks. I bargain with myself: If I just get through this one task, I'll go get a cup of coffee. Or, I'll take a nap. I also come up with some good end-prize to daydream about when I can, such as a trip to Paris or a spa day."
"Prioritize my tasks and create lists so I have a physical reminder that my work has an end (even if the list is long) and is manageable. Intentionally make myself calm down. Acknowledging that the feelings of anxiety, stress, and needing to rush do not help, they hinder. Remind myself that my physical and mental health are a priority. To that end, I make myself take walks outside and step away from my work or computer for 10 to 30 minutes at a time, even when I feel like that will make me get behind. If the workload is particularly heavy, I still make myself plan for a day off within the week. I do not let myself work extremely long days or more than six days in a row, even if that means I have to ask for an extension or take on less work."
"Generally, when I have experienced a burnout, it's because I have over-exerted myself. Even if I can't completely disengage, I try to find ways to incorporate more self-care into my daily routine, be it getting up earlier to have a longer, easier start to my day, treating myself to a lunch out, or taking a long bath after a stressful day. I try to take everything one step at a time so as not to get overwhelmed by everything I have on my plate."
"Angry rock songs get my blood pumping. I use mindful meditation for 10 minutes. I take a break to play with my dog or walk him and that gets my energy up. I call any one of my three to five closest friends and ask for a pep talk. I ask another friend to send me funny memes so I'll laugh, and that helps me recharge. I stop to doodle with magic markers for 10 minutes. That uses a totally different part of my brain and feels like it refreshes me. Mainly because I love magic markers and I love doodling — making shapes and patterns with one color and then coloring them in with contrasting colors (like green and orange, or green and pink)."
"If I can't take a full vacation, I take a break and do something new-to-me or unusual to shake up my normal routine. For example, one day this summer, I took time off in the middle of the day to go stand up paddle boarding with a new group of friends. Afterward, I felt much more alive, and I had several new ideas I was excited about pursuing, both professionally and personally. It was hard to step away from my work, but it was well worth it."
"If I know I'm about to have a crazy work week, I'll cancel my weekend plans and head home to my parents' and spend time with them. There's something about being in my childhood home with my family that de-stresses me and puts my work life in perspective."
"Take one day at a time. Focus on the task at hand. Scream in my car. Cry."
"I keep a list of my goals for the year on a bulletin board. As I look at it, I remind myself of the life I want to make, and that whatever is overwhelming now is going towards a more relaxed, less demanding future. I also sit with my dog on the couch because it makes me feel like she's counting on me to get stuff done."
"By breaking up tasks into smaller steps. By taking breaks to recharge. Yoga and meditation. Eating for energy."
"Have an escape planned. A weekend off with nothing planned so I can decompress or [take] a mini vacation."
"I force myself to get enough sleep each night. I dim the lights early and take melatonin supplements in order to get the rest I need. It would be impossible to power through burnout without getting at least eight hours of sleep each night. Otherwise, I would crack from the stress."
As these tips show, powering through burnout doesn't necessarily mean working non-stop. It can also mean getting enough breaks and rest in that the time you do spend working is well-spent.