Real estate is the domain of highly-driven, internally-motivated, often Type-A personalities. The most successful agents are powered by long-standing routines. Some rely on daily role-playing sessions with like-minded peers. Others stick to a schedule that has them on the phone during the same hours every day, prospecting expireds or FSBOs through their Espresso Agent CRM and dialer platform.
But things have been turned upside down over the past months. The unprecedented disruption to our personal and professional lives created by the COVID-19 pandemic has added a layer of uncertainty and stress most of us could have never imagined. Such stress is only heightened if you’re the kind of person who obsessively watches 24-hour cable news coverage or scrolls through your social media feeds for hours on end. The news isn’t good, and only serves to create more fear and doubt.
Of course, on the business end, you might be finding that prospects, homeowners who just a few months ago had an urgency to either buy or sell, are now hesitant because they’re watching the same gloomy news reports as you are.
Suddenly, things might begin to feel differently for you:
- Disrupted sleep patterns might leave you feeling exhausted during the day
- You find yourself feeling more anxious than usual
- Your lazar focus isn’t what it used to be
- You might be feeling sad, down in the dumps
- The smallest things now seem to annoy and frustrate you
- It’s hard to explain, but you feel strange, maybe even disconnected
If you’re experiencing any, or a combination of these feelings, you’re not alone. More and more people are in the same boat, which we commonly refer to as burnout. Burnout is real. Psychology Today says this about burnout:
Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress. Though it’s most often caused by problems at work, it can also appear in other areas of life, such as parenting, caretaking, or romantic relationships.
Nearly 70 percent of full-time working Americans said they felt burned out in their current job, according to a 2018 Gallup survey. For nearly 25 percent of those surveyed, these feelings of being burned out happened on a regular basis.
The World Health Organization, in a 2019 report, recognized occupational burnout as “a syndrome related to chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
Remember, all of these (and many similar) studies and surveys were done before the onset of COVID-19. As many of us are learning, life in a pandemic is often a cycle of increased stress with regard to parenting, caregiving and our romantic relationships. And, of course, most of us are having to work from home, which is not that uncommon for real estate agents. What is uncommon is having to adjust our work-from-home routines to accommodate the presence of our families.
So, given all of these circumstances, it’s likely that you might feel some degree of burnout. And even though the country is slowly emerging from required lock-down, we are all, to a certain level, going to deal with some form of COVID-19 disruption for some time to come. Thus, exacerbating the chance of experiencing burnout.
Given all of these factors, many business professionals are starting to consider mini-sabbaticals, mental health days as a way to combat burnout. A mental health, or sabbatical day can be impulsive (“I think I’ll call in sick today”) or planned weeks in advance. Either way, the idea is to take a day to fully focus on your inner self in order to bring some balance to your life.
Effective mini-sabbaticals can work magic in a number of different ways:
- Help you to take a step back to de-stress
- Force you to assess your perspective on what is important
- Give you time, and hopefully solitude, to evaluate your priorities
- Get a better handle on your emotional state
Your sabbatical day should be a time for taking care of yourself, mentally, spiritually and physically. To that end, you’ll want to avoid:
- Smoking, drinking, or using other substances-all of which give you a “false positive” when it comes to your mental well-being
- Overeating junk food: see the point above
- Obsess over negative emotions-which probably helped
- Endlessly scanning your social media news feed. In fact, the best strategy is to turn off ALL electronic devices in order to have the most meaningful mental health day possible.
You can begin to attack burnout before your mental health day by:
- Assessing those things in your life that create the most stress.
- Brainstorming productive ways to remove those stressors, starting with the biggest ones
- Taking a look at your priorities
- Brainstorming ways you can develop more work and life balance
Whether impulsively, or planned in advance, how can you maximize your personal day, or mini-sabbatical? Here are a few tips:
- Make it about relaxation. Relaxation means something different to each person. Be flexible and focus on those things that truly help you to relax. Here are a few obvious, and not-so obvious, tips:
- There are myriad guided meditations available, for FREE or with a nominal outlay of money. Many people assume that they don’t have what it takes to sit quietly for a long time. Give it a try. You might surprise yourself.
- Yoga is a wonderful combination of meditation and exercise. Find a beginner’s yoga class on YouTube
- Get started with aerobics. Running, biking, hiking. Get your blood pumping to cut stress.
- Practice breathing and mindfulness techniques
- Take a midday nap. A short nap can be wonderfully invigorating.
- Take a long, hot bath.
- Watch a bunch of your favorite movies or binge-watch Game of Thrones for the second time
- Plant a garden. If you’re not a gardener, maybe now’s a great time to start. A 1995 study by the San Francisco Bay Area Hospitals on the benefits of gardening for former patients found that 79% of respondents reported that gardening helped them feel calm and relaxed.
- Grab some alone time. We all need solitude to re-charge our batteries. Alone time improves our perspective and helps us to consider our priorities. If you can’t find necessary solitude at home, then you should…
- Get out in nature. A study at Cornell University found that as little as 10 minutes walking in the forest can both reduce anxiety and boost happiness. Other studies have found that spending time in nature can help improve problem-solving skills by as much as 50%.
A mini-sabbatical or mental health day can rejuvenate you, emotionally, mentally and physically. And, it may go a long way toward disrupting the patterns that often result in burnout. Take a sabbatical day. You deserve it.