The Power of cycling : A personal perspective on avoiding burnout by finding peace in an always on & increasingly busy world.
In today’s always on business environment, being busy is often seen as a badge of honour. But while being productive and efficient is important, being “busy” can have negative consequences for your wellbeing, as well as professional success.
I’ve been thinking about “being busy” for a while, worried that being too busy can have negative consequences;
- Lack of focus: When you are always busy, it can be difficult to focus on important tasks and projects. You may find yourself rushing through tasks or multitasking, which can result in poor quality work.
- Missed opportunities: When you are constantly busy, you may miss out on opportunities for growth and expansion. You may not have the time or energy to explore new ideas, connect with potential clients, or develop new products or services.
- Overcommitment: Being too busy can lead to overcommitment, which can be detrimental to you and your business. You may agree to take on too many projects or clients, leading to a backlog of work and missed deadlines.
- Burnout: If you are constantly busy, you may find it challenging to take breaks and prioritise self-care. This can lead to burnout, which can negatively impact your health and productivity.
I think it’s really important to find a balance that allows you on one hand to be productive, and on the other, be successful without sacrificing your health, but that’s easier said than done.
If I needed a reason to work on being less busy, skirting with burnout earlier this year certainly gave me one.
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. After two years navigating the pandemic and then being launched into a cost-of-living crisis and more economic turmoil I was certainly feeling the pressure.
Talking to friends, clients and professional contacts I started to realise I wasn’t alone. There was a lot to be positive about. Despite working in a challenging environment many of us had worked proactively on strategy and were confident about business success in the future. But we were tired too. I certainly was tired and felt like there was nothing left emotionally to give. I wasn’t sleeping, weight was creeping back on, and I was irritable. Things were taking longer to finish, and I was developing a more negative mindset about certain aspects of life.
This wasn’t burnout but there were signs it was on the way.
I knew that something needed to change as the consequences for both my mental and physical health could be huge. I knew what needed to change and was determined to find a way that was “less busy”.
My journey isn’t over though. I’ve made great progress, some quick wins if you like, and I am confident about my mental health in the future.
The power of cycling
I knew from the very first lockdown that cycling was good for my health, it was good for my physical health, helped me relax and enabled me to find inner peace. It was a time I could reconnect with myself and the outside world.
Despite living in the middle of some of the best countryside Lincolnshire has to offer, I had fallen out of love with riding my bike.
I knew that cycling had many benefits, but I’d forgotten or had chosen to;
- Physical Exercise: Exercise is known to stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural mood-boosting chemicals in the brain. I liked riding in the hills which provided the opportunity for moderate to intense exercise, which can increase endorphin levels and promote a sense of wellbeing.
- Nature Exposure: Spending time in nature has been shown to have a calming effect on the mind and body. Exposure to greenery, fresh air, and natural sounds like birdsong reduced my stress and anxiety, and promoted relaxation.
- Mindfulness: Biking can be a meditative experience, allowing me to focus on the present moment and let go of distractions and worries. By paying attention to my surroundings, my breathing, and the sensations in my body, I was able to cultivate mindfulness and a sense of peace.
- Social Connection: Cycling with others provided a sense of social connection and support, which was so important for my mental health. It was all about the relationships I had with people and the coffee we drank! These connections with others fostered a sense of belonging and community.
Cycling provides me with a much-needed break from the constant demands of a busy professional life. It allows me to unplug, clear my mind, and connect with nature, all of which helps promote a sense of calm and balance.
It has been difficult to get “back on the bike” but by incorporating regular exercise into my routine I have been able to protect against the negative consequences of being too busy and improve my overall health and wellbeing.
My journey isn’t over but cycling is going to become my first defence against burnout, plus I’m exploring new parts of the countryside and finding new coffee stops!