As we continue to integrate back into the outside world, we are facing the daunting task of returning to what society deems as “normal”. Some of us are hesitantly returning to offices while others continue to look for employment in a difficult economy and job market. Aimlessly scrolling through the timelines of Instagram and social media, it can feel disheartening to see so much creative output constantly. When you’re struggling financially, mentally, or emotionally, you can feel as though you aren’t doing or creating enough in order to be validated or to be called a success. It is a side effect of society conditioning us to believe that our self worth is directly connected to our productivity.
There’s times where we are naturally more creative! We may feel inspired, or like there’s a lightbulb moment happening. The inner flame is ignited! We can pull inspiration in our day to day and produce at rapid speeds. It’s usually during this time that we are praised by our friends, family, or our jobs for being so productive! But it is impossible to maintain this level of output all the time. Energy naturally needs ebbs and flows. We can be incredibly hard on ourselves when things aren’t moving quickly or when we feel stagnant in our creativity and productivity.
As a society we tend to praise the “hustle mentality” and glorify the grind. If you’re working constantly or stay “booked and busy”, you can be praised for your achievements or admired for your work ethic. But many times, we find that it’s not sustainable to stay in work mode. Constant hustle can quickly lead to burnout! The need to keep up with others can be forced into us by society. It can lead us into a place of constant mental comparison and a thought process that the grass is always greener on the other side.
Balance of rest, recovery, and productivity is necessary for good mental health. Rest and stillness is an essential part of the productive process, whether society wants to acknowledge it or not. It allows us to slow down, listen to our intuition, and helps us to receive the next steps needed in our lives. Sometimes quieter periods in our lives can be moments for preparing for something bigger coming our way. Other times it may be recovery from a particularly trying time in our lives.
When you’re feeling a burnout on its way, practice mindfulness in your day to day. Monitor how much time you spend on your phone, make sure you’re curating your algorithm to inspire you not to stir jealous feelings. Take intentional breaths when you feel overwhelmed. Step outside and connect back to nature for grounding and as a reminder that you are a part of a bigger make up. Set boundaries when you have too much on your plate or are spread too thin. Remember to schedule things into your calendar that give you genuine joy, not just activities that make money or are for your business benefit. Set a bedtime and cut off times for all electronics so you can decompress naturally from the day. These are all simple and small ways to remind yourself you are worthy of rest and self care. No matter how busy the world wants you to be!
Rest allows us to be present with ourselves outside of the demands of the external world. If you feel burnt out mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, be aware of what your body and spirit is asking of you. Maybe the constant busy schedule is giving you the external validation you need, but it isn’t prioritizing your self care. In the long run, giving your energy from an empty cup will affect your end results and make it harder for you to accomplish your long term goals. Our worth is not determined by the amount of work that we produce but by the quality and intentionality that we create.
Featured photo: Color Joy Stock
Ellen Bowles is a creative, healer, and writer from Los Angeles, CA. Ellen is the co-author of ASTROLOGY SOS: An Astrological Survival Guide to Life, published by Hardie Grant UK and Chronicle Books. She has been featured in publications such as Well+Good, Bustle, PopSugar, and InStyle.