Anna Maria Locke

how to recover when you feel burned out

December 2015Anna LockeComment

Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. 

(Maya Angelou)


I know that we’re in the middle of a crazy busy time of year.

I know that you have a billion and one things on your to-do list.

I know you're an overachiever who loves to make plans and take on projects at work, in your personal life, and why not throw a holiday party for your friends while we’re at it?

I know you push yourself every day to be better, to improve, to work towards becoming your happiest, healthiest self.

I know this has been an intense year, emotionally and energetically draining.

And I want you to know…

It’s ok to slow down and relax.


It’s ok to take time off.

It’s ok to spend a lazy weekend being unproductive.

It’s ok to skip a few days of your workout routine.

It’s ok to do yoga or stretching instead of blasting through an intense cardio session.

It’s ok to take a few days off your clean eating regimen and eat the damn cookies.

It’s ok to put your giant dreams and aspirations and life plans to the side until January.


It’s ok.


I’m learning through experience that if we don’t take time out to recharge, we end up burning out. We’re human, not robots! We can’t expect to operate at max capacity day in and day out and give all our energy away to our jobs, workouts, family, friends, and responsibilities without spending equal time resting to replenish those energy stores.

I’m a natural achiever and striver, always looking for what’s next, always looking for ways to improve and grow and become a better version of myself, but one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned (the hard way) this year is that it’s just as important to let ourselves back off and rest.

If we ignore the signals our body is giving us, it will eventually break down on its own.

I’m not a medical professional, but I have a theory as to why we all get sick this time of year. Yes, it’s partly because there are more viruses going around, but I think the main reason is that our immune systems crash because it’s the end of the year and we’re all overworking, stressed out with work, personal, and family issues, and trying to mentally and emotionally wrap up and wind down another year.

I almost never get sick, but the week before Thanksgiving I came down with a cold, and the annoying congestion has been hanging around in my head ever since. This physical breakdown is coming at the same time as a winding-down (ok...crashing!) of my mental and emotional energy too.

What I've been completely ignoring is the fact that I’ve been operating on full steam ahead for almost two years, so I’m taking this burnout as a sign to slow down. I’m laying off a lot of self-imposed pressure and attachment to goals and am finally cutting myself some slack.

Lots of lazy time, listening to my body instead of my head, eating what I feel like, unplugging more, sleeping in, going on runs to clear my head instead of obsessing over my workout schedule, drinking lots of tea, and really honoring my energy instead of pushing through.

Last weekend Ben and I drove home to central Illinois to visit my family since we spent Thanksgiving up here in Chicago with Ben’s side of the fam.

It was a much needed break, and reminded me that I need to make an effort to get out of the city every once in a while to recharge!

I gave myself permission to NOT check my email, worry about my business, or work on scarves for my Etsy shop.

Instead, I remained zen through an extra hour of rush hour traffic as we left the city on Friday night, stopped at McDonald's for dinner and drank a Coke Zero for the first time in about a year (plus fries and an ice cream cone), drank mulled wine with my sister and her new boyfriend, went for a frosty morning hike with my brother, returned to my high school for my little sister's Christmas band concert, ate way too many cookies, read, ignored my phone, and celebrated our family's Dutch holiday tradition, Sinterklaas.

It was just what I needed to reconnect with myself and recharge, and now I feel completely calm and relaxed heading into the last two weeks before our Christmas roadtrip.

I know that whatever gets done will get done. Whatever DOESN'T get done won't result in anyone dying. I know my energy and mojo will return when I'm ready for it. My anxiety that was peaking last month has gone away (for now). And I actually feel excited about life again!

Signs you’re burning out

-You feel constantly overwhelmed

-You’re always thinking about your to-do list

-If you do have unstructured free time (like on the weekends) you don’t know how to relax, so you fill it up with more errands and work.

-Your brain won’t stop spinning at night, or when you try to be quiet and still.

-You can’t sit through a sermon at church without thinking about your grocery list or things to accomplish.

-When you skip a workout you feel guilty and anxious, and feel pressured to “make it up” later.

-It’s hard to deal with little upsets and daily obstacles without having an emotional breakdown.

-You feel like you don’t have control over your life or time.

-You’re constantly on edge, and feel like you’re missing out on something important.

-Eventually your body might shut down and you’ll get sick with a cold or the flu.

It’s easy to glorify being “busy,” and super tempting to just grab another cup of coffee and push through when life gets overwhelming.


Instead, force yourself to step back. Cancel your evening plans and take a bubble bath. Go to bed early. Sleep in. Take care of yourself!

So how do we avoid a physical/mental/emotional burnout? I’m not sure yet. I’m definitely still working on learning how to connect with my energy.

I do know how to bounce back though!

Simply allow yourself to rest. This is a perfect time of year to retreat into hermit mode.

You’ve been working hard all year, give yourself time to absorb all the changes and growth.


You are doing MORE than enough.

You are enough.

xo Anna