Advice by Kaela: How To Avoid Summer Burnout
By Kaela Scott
The start of summer always feels so uplifting. The days are long, sunshine boosts our mood and it promises days filled with many wonderful outdoor and social activities. While we know that summer can be tricky for those who struggle with eating disorders, even those who struggle often report that summer makes them feel better and lifts their spirit. However, what I often notice in my line of work is that with all the benefits that summer brings, it often has one major cost: Burnout. Burnout is what happens when we burn the candle at both ends and the stress from doing so physically, mentally and emotionally exhausts us. It has an impact on our overall wellbeing and makes typical engagements feel arduous and unfulfilling. During the summer months, it is not uncommon for people to overschedule themselves in ways that can leave them feeling depleted and that can make focusing and working on recovery really difficult.
By the time August hits, people have been pushing themselves hard in many great, but not always healthy, ways. Longer days means less downtime with a cup of tea, and the warm weather can often result in people being more active and not listening to their body’s need for rest. Summer is also a time when people often socialize more which is wonderful but can be draining, especially when so much of socializing is based around food – a big anxiety trigger for many struggling with an eating disorder. We know that as our anxiety climbs, our destructive eating disorder behaviours often climb alongside. One of the trickiest things about this time of year is often we can feel both motivated and pressured to take part in the many things going on, making it more difficult to say no to things that don’t necessarily serve us.
So what do I recommend in order to make the most of your summer without feeling completely and utterly burnt out?
- Schedule in some you time where the only person you need to focus on is yourself. Try to make this time rooted in self-care and not focused on disordered behaviours (including hard exercise).
- Create a daily or weekly block of time where you give yourself permission to slow down and do nothing, or to take that bath because it recharges you.
- Allow yourself to skip the beach BBQ if you know it is only going to overwhelm you and instead go to a park in your neighbourhood and read, or snuggle up in your blankets and take a nap.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your friends to reschedule or alter your plans if you aren’t feeling up for an activity. If you’ve agreed to go for a hike but when they day comes you feel low-energy then ask your friends if they would be okay with a walk instead.
It can be hard to miss out on some of the things that are happening, especially when they are things you enjoy, but neglecting yourself in the name of fun doesn’t make it less harmful. Instead, try to find a balance so that you can both enjoy your summer while also taking care of yourself. Recovery in so many ways is a full-time job and while it is important to sometimes put it to the side and go have some fun, it is also important to acknowledge what you need in order to feel and be well.
Recovery in so many ways is a full-time job and while it is important to sometimes put it to the side and go have some fun, it is also important to acknowledge what you need in order to feel and be well.
Summertime is one of the best times of the year so get out and enjoy it but make sure to carve out some downtime each day or week to maintain your sense of balance and to ensure you don’t deplete yourself.
Kaela Scott is a Registered Clinical Counsellor who specializes in Eating Disorders. She runs her own private practice and works with the Looking Glass Foundation in both their summer camp and their Hand In Hand Program. She has been passionate about working with eating disorders since freeing herself from her own struggle and realizing what it is like to be happy and well. When she isn’t working, you can find Kaela either cozying up with a cup of tea and her friends or up in the mountains going for a hike.