Ways to recognize burnout and take action
Life can get pretty overwhelming, and sometimes we juggle more than we can handle. We tend to have a myriad of general and social factors pulling us in different directions, whether it is work, school, or trying to find time for our social lives and hobbies. How do we do it all and avoid being burnt-out?
It’s the holiday season, and that means nonstop parties, get-togethers, holiday shopping, and other exciting events will fill up your calendar. In my case, I am booked every single weekend until January. This is an incredibly positive and joyful thing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t stressful! With a full-time job and other responsibilities, it is going to be hard to manage it all.
So, this holiday season, my biggest task will be to avoid burnout.
To “burnout” means to jeopardize one’s physical and mental health through overwork. You’re worn out; you feel helpless, exhausted, and have no control in your surroundings. It’s an awful feeling, but can be avoided with a few easy tricks.
How to spot burnout
Here are some ways you can spot burnout:
- Increased anxiety and stress
- Not enough sleep; energy loss
- A feeling of disconnect with others around you
- Lack of engagement in the workplace or in daily tasks
- Inefficiency; being unproductive
If you’re burnt-out you know it. You feel sluggish, frustrated, and as if there is no way you are able to complete any tasks on your to-do list. You feel as if you aren’t being recognized for the work that you do accomplish, and even that work makes you feel challenged, or seems monotonous.
How to avoid burnout
Hopefully you are able to recognize these signs early, and once you do, you can find ways to avoid falling off the edge. There are plenty of simple tactics you can try that will help you recognize burnout and take action to steer yourself in a positive, happy, and productive direction.
Find a relaxing morning ritual
Start your day off right; if you begin your morning rushed and frantic, you will only continue to feel that way throughout the day. Find some activity that will calm you and energize your brain. It can be yoga or meditation, a hot shower, or reading a chapter from your favorite book. Take a morning walk with your dog, or start your morning writing in a journal. Make sure it’s something that will keep you focused and stress-free.
Track your daily accomplishments
If you know me, I am a big fan of to-do lists. Every day, first thing in the morning, I sit down and I write a list of everything I need to complete that day. This includes tasks and projects at work and other goals outside the workplace including going to the gym or writing. Whatever it is I write it down, and as I complete it, I check it off. Doing so gives me a sense of accomplishment and boosts my energy to keep going.
Tip: Be sure to make your to-do list realistic; do not bite off more than you can chew. Make sure you prioritize and that you’re not overloading yourself with work.
Make sure to give yourself an internal (heck, or external) high-five when you complete each task. It’s rewarding, and will give yourself confidence to charge through that list.
Take breaks throughout your day
Even if it’s a five-minute walk around a nearby park, or a lap around your office building, stepping away and taking a break will do wonders. Take some time to clear your head. Go out to lunch with a co-worker or just head outdoors. You need to give yourself the ability to step away and regain your focus. Plus, being outdoors stimulates your brain and gives you boosts of happiness and self-esteem. I find that when I take breaks, I feel my stress and anxiety fade away.
Talk about it with co-workers, friends
If you are feeling on the verge of a breakdown talk to someone about it. This can either be a sympathetic co-worker or a friend who you feel comfortable with. It will feel good to get those emotions off your chest, and your buddy might even help you prioritize what you need to get done and ways to avoid feeling stressed.
If you’re in the workplace and feeling close to burnout, one of the biggest tips I can give you is to talk to your supervisor. That’s what they’re there for. If you are feeling like you are losing your grip on what needs to be done, sit down with them and they will help you prioritize. Communication is key. Don’t keep it bundled up!
Allow time for creativity
Whether it is taking the time to read a book, writing your thoughts down in a journal, or plugging in your headphones and listening to your favorite music, it is important to unplug sometimes and let your creative juices flow. Taking time to step back and channel your inner-creativity for a few minutes will lead you to a more productive and energized self.
Story: Last holiday season, I found that the task of getting all of my loved ones the best holiday gift daunting. I was incredibly anxious and nervous that I would not be able to make them happy (plus I was broke). Then, I discovered the art of making scrapbook holiday cards! After a busy, stressful day at work, I would sit down, unwind, and create holiday cards with different themes, colors, and customized artwork. I felt so relaxed and productive –I ended up making over 50 cards!
Giving myself the time to explore my creativity helped curb my anxiety and gave me that productivity jolt to use in the office. I felt rejuvenated by doing something enjoyable and used that stimulant to keep myself on track.
Eat, Move, Sleep, Repeat
This goes without saying, but take care of yourself. When you’re burnt-out, you’re exhausted. Try to exercise regularly to give yourself more energy. Even getting up from your chair and doing a few stretches or exercises will stimulate your brain, alleviate your stress, and increase your productivity. Make sure that you eat healthy meals and try not to indulge in those heavy foods that might bog you down even more. Eat light, nutritious, meals and make sure you get enough sleep. Your brain and body will thank you.
What did I miss? Share how you avoid burnout in the comments below.