Hygge, The Art of Self Care, & Burnout Insurance
Running a business is hard work.
Maintaining a household is hard work, whether it has one occupant or many.
Relationships are hard work, no matter what romantic comedies have lulled us into believing.
Life is hard damn work. Drinking enough water, learning to communicate with your partner, eating the right food, paying bills, taking the right supplements, avoiding internet arguments, making sure you move your body, preparing for nuclear war and zombie attacks, not running out of dog food.
It’s a lot.
It can be incredibly easy to get so focused on moving the gauge on our goals just a little bit more, and dealing with life in general, that we forget to do the things that light us up to begin with.
Weeks can go by in a matter of minutes while you’re staying on top of client work and figuring out what’s for dinner.
And that’s if everything is going smoothly.
Throw a few normal life issues and curveballs in the mix and suddenly you realize you’ve really been holding everything together with caffeine and denial and that’s just not cutting it anymore.
Cue burnout. That tired, over it, lack of motivation feeling that happens when you’ve been pouring out for too long without filling back up.
Here are a few ways I’m building burnout insurance into my life.
Focusing on the right stuff
First and foremost, make sure you’re focusing your attention on the right things to begin with.
There was a time in the recent past when I felt like processing my email was taking up huge parts of my day. Which was ridiculous, because even though I do get emails from clients I only work with a few people at a time. The majority of the emails I was ‘processing’ every day were really newsletters of people I had at some point wanted to learn from. Another solid 25% was marketing emails from every store I’ve ever walked near, it seems.
It was overwhelming and had actually reached the point where instead of reading one single word of most of these emails I was just deleting them instantly. I prefer a clean inbox, in case you hadn’t already picked up on my leanings towards neatness.
To make an unnecessarily long story short, I went on an unsubscribe rampage and ruthlessly eliminated any subscription I wasn’t actively reading or getting pleasure from, which was 99.8% of them.
It seems simple, but that overwhelm I was feeling every time I dealt with my email was seeping out into the rest of my business, plus the actual time I was spending deleting emails can now be spent on more important things - like writing this blog post.
Start to watch where you’re spending your time. Is it on activities that move you forward, or busy work that makes you feel productive?
Studying the concept of hygge
Have you heard of hygge yet? It’s a Danish term that’s actually pronounced ‘hoo-guh’, and it’s become more popular in America the last few years. It seems to originate from the same place the word ‘hug’ does, but it’s closest English translation is ‘cozy’.
The definition of hygge is “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.”
In other words, putting on your fuzzy socks, wrapping up in an electric blanket, and drinking hot cocoa. Or maybe it’s a nice quilt and a hot toddy.
It turns out I’ve been practicing this for years, but it’s nice to have a word for it.
Whatever your version of hygge is, the point seems to be getting cozy, and winter is the perfect time of year to start practicing that.
How can you build more hygge into the spaces you hang out? Do you have a cozy quiet spot to hang out and watch TV or read?
Creating pockets of happiness intentionally
This is another thing I’ve always done to some extent… I’m a naturally excitable person. But when it doesn’t come to me naturally I try to be more intentional about seeking it out.
Sometimes this means taking something routine and making it special by bundling a group of simple pleasures… for me this can look like watching my favorite shows in bed on Sunday morning with my coffee and a fuzzy blanket.
It’s something small that I could easily do without thinking about, but the act of combining two or three small things I really enjoy, then anticipating that throughout the week, lets me extend the happy feelings.
Another way I’m planning to treat myself, build some excitement, and create a regular pocket of happiness is trying out some subscription boxes this year. There are so many fun ones out there from just a few dollars a month. You could try a different box every month or subscribe to something like FabFitFun quarterly to make sure you get something fun in the mail every so often.
What events or activities can you bundle and start getting excited about?
Being a little bit (more) of a nerd
There’s few things I love more than an out of nowhere adventure. In the past, especially in my single days, I might hop in the car to go to the store and end up in North Carolina, which is not the state I live in. I generally prefer my fun to be spontaneous and a little weird.
I’m learning that as an adult those moments aren’t always the easiest to come by though, even when you don’t have kids. Pets, partners, jobs, clients, and houseplants can join forces to make it easier to just stay home and relax than to make the effort to go out and experience things. This goes double for the introverted among us (myself included).
I literally have an ongoing goal that every month I’ll get out of the house and spend time with friends at least twice, take a class or go to an event just for myself at least once, and find something fun for us to do as a couple at least once.
Then I actively seek out events, classes, and fun things to do and add them to my calendar.
If you’re more extroverted and don’t have trouble going and doing this might seem a little bit over the top, but what in your own life could benefit from planning ahead? Maybe planning a night in with a good book, or scheduling regular self-care like haircuts or massages ahead of time so they don’t get forgotten? Which is also something I make sure to do now, self-care must be scheduled here or it won’t happen.
Designating Theme Days
Thursday nights are when I paint my nails and wear fun skin hydrating masks (hello 35!). Make Art Monday is now a common phrase in our house. Workout Wednesday makes sure that if I totally fail at going to the gym the rest of the week I’ve at least gone once.
I’ll be talking about this in it’s own blog post soon so I won’t go in depth here, but this is another way I’m scheduling in the things that light me up.
Letting go whenever you can
Sometimes the best thing you can do is just let it go for right now.
The sinkful of dirty dishes? Let it go. They’ll be there tomorrow.
That book you feel like you should read or that course you think should take but you just cannot even make yourself want to do it right now? Let it go. Forcing it will only frustrate you.
Those crushing internal expectations of perfection? Let ‘em go.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are right now.