Set Boundaries to Avoid Burnout

We have had to deal with so much lately—not only as a country, but as individuals, too. On the national level, we’ve seen riots at the Capitol, National Guard deployed to D.C. in preparation for Inauguration, economic downturn, and COVID raging on. Plus, we have to deal with anything going on in our individual lives. Maybe a family member is sick, maybe unemployment has run out, maybe school is difficult and unforgiving, maybe shifts got cut at work.

On top of all these extra stressors, we also have to continue meeting our regular daily expectations with work, school, home, or even just ourselves. Living like this for too long can become not only physically, but also emotionally exhausting.

Just as there are only so many hours in a day, we only have so much mental and physical capacity to handle all these different situations we have to deal with. At some point, we’ll inevitably reach burnout.

I’ve been there—more than once—and it’s not fun. I’m the type of person who likes to be busy. I’d rather have a full schedule than a full day off. I also know, though, that I can’t maintain that type of schedule long-term.

So, rather than just going and going until I can’t, I set boundaries.

I do work two jobs, so I have to make sure that both know my schedule. No one can be in two places at once, so I set boundaries for my time and availability. I can’t emphasize how important it is to set boundaries for your time. Your time is valuable, and whether it’s work, friends, relationships, or even yourself, you should expect your time to be respected.

I’ve come to realize that the person who disrespects my time most is myself. Setting boundaries for your personal time is just as important as setting boundaries for work. I used to think that free time was just the time I wasn’t spending at work. With working from home over the past several months, though, I’ve realized I have to be very deliberate with how I spend personal time. Right now, I’m working on going to bed and waking up earlier. I tend to think of evenings and nights as a free-for-all, so I’ll spend hours watching tv, listening to podcasts, mindlessly scrolling, or whatever else I might want to do. I quickly lose track of time and later have to catch up with whatever productive things I was meant to do in my personal time. Usually, it has to do with doing the dishes, doing laundry, or tidying up.

Setting boundaries for myself allows me to be more intentional with how I spend my time, and it ultimately makes me feel more fulfilled and productive. When I set boundaries for my own time, I can make room for taking care of myself. I can cook my own meals, go for a walk, work on side projects, complete tasks on my to-do list, and just feel more organized and better about myself.

I encourage you to look for ways you can set boundaries in your own life. It takes work up front, but the end result is so much healthier than flying through life feeling out of control until you physically and emotionally can’t keep going. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by all the negative news. Take a break from social media. Maybe you signed up for too many projects or extracurriculars. Let something go. Whatever it is that’s leading you to burnout, set boundaries, and remember that your time is valuable.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Kayla W.