Before I launch into my top tips for avoiding burnout, let me introduce myself first. My name is Ginger Garner. I’m a doctor of physical therapy, among other things…
- I’m a wife
- Mother of 3 amazing sons, ages 15, 13, and 10
- Owner of 2 small businesses
- Integrative & Lifestyle Medicine nerd
- Activist and advocate for pelvic health and health care access for all
- Educator & International speaker (I love teaching!)
- Book lover
- Music addict
- Aspiring Beginner violinist (because I believe we should always be trying to learning something new #perpetualstudent)
Now that you know a little about me (you can learn more here), you may not be surprised that I often get asked this question: How do you do everything you do?
My first and immediate response to that is: no one does anything alone. It takes a village. But ultimately, your life is made up of a series of choices and actions that you take. So I try to follow these mantras below as best as I can.
If you want to read a little backstory about my burnout experience and how I overcame it, read on here or watch the short clip below.
How do you do everything you do?
Well, here’s some short answers to that question.
I start by reminding myself of a few things:
I get up in the morning and first things first, say:
- Today I will my actions will embody and reflect my core values.
- Today I will practice what I preach.
- Self-care and family-care are important to me, so “hustling” for my business in a way that sacrifices our well-being, is a recipe for burnout and disaster.
No success can make up for failure in the home.
So if these things are important to you:
- being present, and
- your longevity and health, this blog is just for you!
My Top Tips for Avoiding Burnout
1. Start each day with a mantra that aligns your intentions with your values.
“I am what I do, not what I say I do.”
2. Meditate every day
Avoiding (or managing) burnout can start with your breath.
You don’t need to be an expert at meditation or breathing to use it. You can start now with this easy Box Breathing technique. Breathing is THE gateway to mindfulness and meditation, no matter what practice style you use.
The good news is you can also start with just 2 minutes a day. Yes, JUST a few minutes a day is enough to redirect your energy and reduce your stress (and pain too!).
If you are concerned about how to breathe well, please watch the videos that follow BEFORE trying Box Breathing.
3. Play (and laugh at yourself!) every day
All systems of indigenous medicine (Chinese, Native American, Indian, etc.) emphasize the importance of play. Our “modern medicine” left out play as an essential part of health.
So each day set aside some time to do something with NO GOAL IN MIND AT ALL. Be silly, play with your kids, pick up a new hobby whatever is fun for you – but do it without a purpose or agenda. Read more on the benefits of play for adults
4. Get serious about Boundary Setting and Time Management
Each year as I plan my work schedule, I make SURE to block off vacation and family time FIRST.
That little lesson should not have taken me as long to learn. But as a women, you are instinctively taught – through the construct of your own heart and society’s hand, to nurture others. To put everyone else’s oxygen mask on before your own. You feed your babies when they are hungry, before you feed yourself – even when you are hungry. As a mother you clothe and diaper and care for them, you sacrifice sleep and basic needs like showering and toileting. And you don’t even give it a second thought.
So I cannot emphasize enough, one of the most important tips for avoiding burnout is this: Take control of your schedule now.
I use a mathematical model to do that. I scaffold and structure my projects with a wall AND digital calendar (so I don’t accidentally double or overbook myself).
Whatever method you use, stick with it. Learning to become the master of your schedule is the first step toward avoiding burnout (or recovering from it).
Read this article (with FREE DOWNLOADABLE!) on How to Set Healthy Boundaries
5. Get organized
Physical clutter becomes mental clutter. If you feel stuck or stagnant, look around…ask yourself some questions.
- What can you change?
- What no longer serves you?
- What have you outgrown emotionally or spiritually? Pass along books that you read, enjoyed, appreciated, but that you no longer need. Get rid of clothing or items that you once adored, but that no longer mesh with your lifestyle or work.
I discovered a few years back that the town I called home for 21 years, was no longer serving my family’s best interests and deepest needs. So after a combined 52 years of living on an island, just like that, we uprooted our family, sold our home (that we spent years lovingly building together and renovating to make it “just right” for our family), and moved to another city, hundreds of miles away.
Another case in point, when COVID hit, my businesses as I knew them were effectively dead. I had to reinvent, restructure, and start over (as did so many small business owners). As a 1 woman show, that was not easy. Women don’t typically get the loans or aid that men get as entrepreneurs. But I was determined not to fail my family. So I turned my business model on its head.
Both of these massive changes were terrifying, but looking back, they were 200% the right decision.
Don’t be afraid to be bold about change. Trust your gut instinct and move ever forward.
Read this Forbes article on How to Declutter Your Mind so you can begin to make clearer life decisions that are better for you and your family
6. Get your Lifestyle Vital Signs back on track
Avoiding burnout is a long-game, it is slow medicine. But you can enjoy plenty of short-term wins all along the way, which in a way, is the secret sauce tip for avoiding burnout.
The 5 critical vital signs of Lifestyle Medicine include learning how to optimize:
- Stress Management,
- Avoiding Environmental Pollutants, and
- Physical Activity
7. My last tip for avoiding burnout – don’t beat yourself up when you fall off the fitness wagon.
It happens to all of us. Your biggest weapon against burnout is probably having self-compassion. Improving your health and well-being is not simply about having enough self-discipline. You also have to have self-compassion and positive self-talk. Read this Harvard article on The Power of Self-Compassion
Want to learn more? Try Medical Therapeutic Yoga (MTY) – it can teach you to do all these things!
Want to work on avoiding burnout now?
Resources for Healthcare Providers: If you are a healthcare provider and want to learn about how to apply Lifestyle Medicine via MTY in your practice, visit this link for a free webinar: Introduction to Integrative Lifestyle Medicine
Resources for Everyone: If you are looking to get started on tackling burnout in your life, start here with this on-demand 3 week series.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Garner is a passionate, unapologetic advocate of improving access to pelvic physical therapy, a mother to 3 sons, & a 25+ year veteran in Yoga & Lifestyle Medicine and orthopaedic and pelvic physical therapy & athletic training. She is the author of Medical Therapeutic Yoga, founder & CEO of Living Well Institute, owner of EudeMOMia®, and most recently uprooted to Greensboro, NC in 2019 with her family after 21 years of beach living, where they and their rescue pup Scout are wildly joyous about their new hometown.
Disclaimer: This and any other videos by Dr. Ginger Garner do not constitute a patient-provider relationship nor are they a substitute for medical care or physical therapy. By participating in these videos user assumes all risk. Before starting this or any other exercise regimen you should seek the advice and/or clearance of your physician, nurse practitioner, and/or physical therapist.