Since we’ve all been alive and (un)well during the year 2020 and beyond, we are all far too familiar with what burnout entails. A quick refresher: It’s the physical, emotional, and mental repercussions of complete exhaustion, usually from excessive and prolonged stress. Burnout is different from the normal levels of day-to-day stress.
Burnout can make us totally overwhelmed and emotionally unable to meet the constant demands of our daily lives. We tend to experience feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, resentment, and cynicism.
If you are burned out or have been in the past, heed these strategies to help turn things around:
1. Become a Boundary Boss
Becoming a boundary boss will help you proactively protect your time and energy. If you are experiencing burnout, you cannot overextend yourself.
Learning how to say no is a skill that takes practice. The first step is to stop the “auto-yes”. Saying yes to things you don’t really want to do or don’t have the capacity for can be the result of lifelong conditioning.
You owe no one an immediate yes—or even a delayed yes. A pause and then a simple “I’d like to think about it” or “I’ll let you know by the end of the week” will create space for you to think and then consciously decide.
A boundary boss knows she has the right to say no, course correct, or change her mind.
Buying yourself some time interrupts the ingrained “auto-yes” pattern, so you can respond based on your true feelings rather than react to please the other person.
2. Build Mental Breaks Into Your Day
These breaks don’t have to be that long. Make yourself a cup of tea and give yourself 15 minutes to do nothing. A lot of us have been conditioned by hustle culture to always be on the go, but that isn’t for our highest good.
Here are a few other ideas:
- Stretch for 5 minutes
- Take a dance break
- Do something simply because it is fun
- Read a book or your favorite magazine or website
- Take yourself out for an ice cream or other treat
- Go outside for 10 minutes, and take a breath break
Are you scheduled within an inch of your life? It is not helpful. In fact, it is a one-way ticket to cognitive fatigue and burnout. Build in ample time to do the tasks that require a lot of mental focus, and then build in 15 or 20 minutes after to have a break.
Real self-care is the antidote to burnout so make sure that it is on the top of your To Do list every single day!
While it may seem counterintuitive to help others if you are already experiencing burnout, small, manageable acts of kindness can help us get out of our own heads (as long as we aren’t doing them at the expense of ourselves).
It is amazing how making a practice of contributing to the well-being of others can replenish our own sense of well-being. It can be as simple as taking the time to write a note of gratitude to a teacher, a neighbor, or a friend.
As you continue to fill your own tank, you can help more and more. Visit with an elderly neighbor. Finally drop those donations off at your Goodwill, or volunteer at your local community center. Truly, helping those in need is a win-win.
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