Hitting the Wall – Not Just for Athletes

When an athlete hits the wall, they simply cannot go any more. The body says, “Sorry, I know you’re psyched to push forward, but we are CLOSED.” When an athlete bonks they suffer from low blood sugar and basically hit the wall or even pass out (or worse). In business, you can experience the same sort of dead-zone where your mind, body, and spirit just says ENOUGH! It may be chronic (an ongoing day to day of numbness) or acute (no matter what you do you’re too exhausted to do anything at all and end up staring at your PC or wall). We’ve all had at least one day like this, so what can you do when it happens to you?

It’s a beautiful spring afternoon in Pennsylvania today and I can barely will myself to read the words on the screen. I’ve had this kind of day. After a brisk bike ride at lunch, I’ve essentially been rendered useless. Hit the wall, if you will. Whether it is spring fever or the toll of an extra busy & stressful week I am not sure. What I DO know now is that when I experience this sort of energy and motivation plummet, I need to listen. I need to drop whatever I am doing and do what my body and spirit is most yearning for. For today that means going home and just chilling out with my sweetie, a great meal and a cold martini and resting up for my trek to Philadelphia tomorrow to participate in the Equality Forum panel. It also means simplifying the rest of the weekend’s activities so I’m not running hither and yon or trying to accomplish business tasks, household projects, and recreational activities all at the same time.

The good news is that I haven’t had an afternoon like this in a long time so it means I am doing a decent job of managing my energy and activities, choosing those that feed me over the ones that drain me as much as possible. However, as an expert on burnout, I know it is important to heed the message when my body whispers to me (like this afternoon) rather than ignore it. Because if I ignore it, it will speak louder until it decides to hit the wall and say “no more” by getting a cold, injury, or worse.

6 sure signs that you’re brain fried and burned out:

  1. Driven to distraction and unable to concentrate
  2. So tired you can barely keep your eyes open
  3. Everything you try to do feels like a monumental chore
  4. Overwhelm is mounting by the minute
  5. Your mind keeps drawing a blank
  6. Energy and inspiration is nonexistant

Do you notice when you’re headed toward hitting the wall? Are you even aware of it when you do hit the wall or do you just push yourself harder? Do you find yourself fried in the afternoons? If so, close your eyes, take a breath, and ask your body, “What do I most need right now?” Chances are there is a need in there somewhere just begging to be satisfied. Give yourself permission to satisfy it.

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