My Experience with Burnout

niu body blog post burnout

Picture this: I had just finished a mid-day boxing workout at the studio by our office. Sweaty and flushed, and realizing I was running late for my next meeting, I hurriedly grabbed the communal dry shampoo from the bathroom counter, shook it a few times, and sprayed it all over my hair. As I was fixing my makeup in the mirror, I realized for some reason my hair looked a bit, well… odd. I picked up the dry shampoo to inspect the ingredients, only to realize that I was reading the label of a Dove spray-on deodorant. That’s right, folks, I’d literally sprayed deodorant all over hair.

This situation alone is pretty funny in hindsight, but in reality, it was just a small piece of what was happening in my life. Unfortunately, it was one of many warning signs that I was experiencing burnout.

burnout (n): a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion, with the latter being the condition’s prominent feature. 

I was feeling so overwhelmed, overworked and stressed that I felt like everything I did wasn’t good enough. My anxiety triggered my perfectionism – I felt guilty for not being the perfect boss, co-founder, partner, daughter, sister and friend. I was having difficulty focusing during the day from lack of sleep, but would stay up later working because I felt so unaccomplished when I reviewed my unfinished to-do lists. 

niu body blog post burnoutRaise your hand if you can relate!

The weeks leading up to that day at the gym, I had people approaching me telling me they’d never seen me look so tired (one mentor even told me to go home!). I was starting to make small mistakes that would’ve never happened in the past. I was having severe difficulty falling asleep, and I’d often wake up in the middle of the night with a shortness of breath, usually thinking of my unfinished work. One night, after being up for 18 hours, I was getting ready for bed and realized I couldn’t find my keys. I started panicking, and after I found them (turns out my sister had merely moved them), I burst out crying. It was at this moment that I realized something had to change.

Laura and I are always trying to be as real and authentic with our followers as possible. We strive to be great examples of young women in business. But I also believe that entrepreneurship can be over-glamourized, and what goes on behind the scenes is often hidden from the spotlight. We’re always encouraging our followers on social media to take time for self-care, but I realized I wasn’t taking my own advice. Here are a few small but important changes that have helped me recover from burnout:

niu body blog post burnout

  • Schedule in me-time: if something’s not in my calendar, I won't do it. I realized that I had to prioritize my mental health as much as my work. I now schedule in morning meditations, and try to have at least two nights of the week without making any plans. If I'm having me-time, I focus on fully unwinding (as opposed to bringing my laptop into the tub with me. True story.) When I’m feeling really stressed, I’ll pause my Inbox and turn off Slack notifications at least an hour before bed, which forces me to unplug. I recently returned from a weekend trip to Miami, where I (gasp) didn’t bring my laptop! I came back recharged from replacing screen time with sun, and more motivated than ever to get back to crushing it at the office!
  • Treat myself like someone I care about: I would never treat my friends the way I treat myself. I realized that I had to correct my negative self-talk, and recognize that I’m doing the best I can. Something I heard recently that really struck a chord was that entrepreneurship is especially difficult because you have to be the person that says, “you’re doing a good job.” No one else will do it for you, because you are your own boss! I’m now trying to celebrate the small wins and give myself more credit.
  • Stop the comparisons: I realized that I was really beating myself up when I compared myself to other’s highlight reels, especially on Instagram. For example, after a long day of work and feeling accomplished, I’d go on Instagram and immediately feel terrible about how I didn’t make time that day for the gym or to hang out with friends. I now limit myself to 10 minutes maximum on Instagram per day, have a strict rule of no scrolling in bed, unfollowed a bunch of accounts that weren’t serving me, and I feel so much lighter and more self-confident!
  • Reach out to others: I didn’t want to be a burden on my friends and family, so I kept my anxiety to myself. After I opened up to a few close friends, I realized that I had a huge support network. It’s not weak to ask for help. It’s actually the most courageous thing you can do.

The decision to share my experience with burnout was not taken lightly. In an age where productivity hacks are the hottest accessory, I truly hope my story can inspire those of you who are out there hustling to realize the importance of taking care of yourself first. This is a gentle reminder that you are doing the best you can, and to focus on your own path.

As always, feel free to comment on this post or DM us with any questions!



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