How to Reassess and Reflect When Stressed



Dear Preston:

I have only been in the business for eight years and there are times when I feel like a newbie (with all of the excitement, enthusiasm and curiosity that comes with that) and others when I am just not sure that I have the energy or inspiration to make it the long haul.  I really love what I do, but there are days like today when I just feel burned out. Any advice?


Dear Burned:

I believe that optimum emotional, mental and physical health can only be maintained with balance, even when you love what you do. Sure, there are times when you will be pushing yourself a bit harder in one area of your life. But when you find yourself in a constant state of exertion, it’s time to step back and make a few changes.

You mention not having the inspiration or energy to make it the long haul.  I don’t know exactly what you are dealing with, but it sounds as though you may need to reassess and reflect a bit. To help identify not only what is bringing about your stress, but also how to manage it and avoid adding to it in the future.  A few questions I like to ask myself in stressful times:

What are the three things that consistently bring me stress and how can they be resolved?

For example: If you are always late because you’re spending 10-15 minutes looking for your keys, you have three choices: Continue being late, learn organizational techniques or get up 20 minutes earlier to look for your keys.

How much sleep am I getting?

Being a self-proclaimed control freak, I am always looking for new ways to perfect proposals and take my designs to the next level.  Unfortunately, this used to result in my staying up into the wee hours of morning; only to be a sleep deprived the next day.  Over time, too little time dreaming (with your eyes closed) can cause everything from a decrease in mental clarity to exhaustion.  As an artist, it’s not always easy for me to stop thinking. But now, I try and keep my work outside of my bedroom and spend an hour or two winding down with a good book so that I can have a break in my day.  I have found this to have a huge impact on my creativity and motivation the next day.

How often do I say “yes” when I should say “no”?

When I was starting out, I was so eager and excited to work that I happily worked into the wee hours to please not only my clients, but colleagues who needed a little extra help, and friends who honored me with the chance to provide them something special for big days like birthdays and weddings.  Unfortunately, time showed me that while I wanted to do it all for everyone I cared for, there was only one me. After my own bout with burnout, I realized that I had to scale back and say “no” at times I didn’t want to. It wasn’t easy, but those around me understood and respected me for it.

What Is My Diet Like?  

I have a well-documented love affair with sweets, but I have avoided processed sugar for a year now and the impact it has had on my mood, body and outlook has been significant.  Are you revving up with caffeine and sugar only to crash a few hours later? I know from experience that keeping your body properly fed helps the mind function better.  How are you taking care of yourself in this way?

What are five reasons I am blessed to do what I do?

This one is the biggie and it always works to cheer me up and motivate me.  I often think about my clients, my staff, my colleagues, my readers (thank you), and the young man in need of a job, the young man who used to pray for the chance to work with flowers and design dreams for others.

In the end, every successful person finds themselves in your position.  Like an achy muscle, I suggest you take these feelings in as a sign that you need to make adjustments, not that you do not have what it takes. It could very well be that you’re just exerting too much in some areas and need to rest, stretch things out a bit, find someone to spot you and help you with the heavy lifting, and take a few days off to let yourself recuperate.

Readers:  How would you address feeling “Burned Out?”



(Photo Courtesy of Pinterest)