Get ahead of burnout: learn how to prevent and recover from your busy life.

Get ahead of burnout: learn how to prevent and recover from your busy life.

5th May 2023, 10:21 am

Burnout is a thing. It’s real, and it’s dangerous. It’s the feeling that no matter what you do, it won’t make a difference—and that feeling is toxic to your mental health and your personal relationships.

But burnout doesn’t have to be forever! There is always a way out. Always a way to get back on track, get back on the journey of your life. This action plan is designed to help you do just that.

Before you read any further, I’m going to tell you something that might sound a little strange.

You don’t have to do everything at once.

In fact, if you try and do them all at once, it’s probably going to feel overwhelming, which is the last thing you need at this moment. So I’m going through these steps and think, “Hey! This is one I can introduce straight away or that one I might want to leave for a few weeks—that’s completely okay.” What’s the right thing for you? It’s going to be unique to you and what’s going on in your life.

Give attention to yourself – Have you ever had times when you felt irritable and then it passes, or you suddenly notice that tension is building up in your body? If over time these and other things are becoming a habitual way of life, do stop and take note! I ignored the warning signs of my burnout, easily irritated over something that didn’t warrant it, resenting what I was doing as no one seemed to care, and seeing the organisation from a cynical perspective. Sleep was sporadic and I was tired all the time but kept pushing through. WAM burnout hits me and takes me off my feet. This could have been preventable if only I had paid more attention to myself!

Connect – Being on the road to burnout can lead to you detaching yourself from family and friends. Withdrawing from invitations and people around you in general. This is not how we were born. We were born to connect, and our bodies subconsciously seek to be with others. It is through relationships that we can heal or prevent burnout. Make time in your day, week or weekend to meet with friends, keep it simple so you do not feel it is a big effort, a simple walk or coffee with a friend for half an hour can and will make a difference to your emotional health. Being part of a community is vital to our well-being, it gives us a sense of belonging and connectedness. So consider what groups you would like to be part of, running, walking, book clubs etc.

Divergent thinking & doing – When we are stressed and heading towards burnout our brain and nervous system work side by side. When we are in fight or flight mode our back brain takes over the front part of our brain, which is responsible for planning, thinking, creativity and problem-solving, and goes offline just like a computer does. What we need is to learn how to get our nervous system into a recovery state, rather than a reactive state. Breathing slowly in and out for a short period of time is helpful, as is taking short 5 -10 min breaks throughout our day and doing something less demanding. Going on our phones only keeps the brain active and in a state of expectation. Leave your phone on your desk or in a drawer and go outside, make a drink, chat with someone about non-work-related matters, listen to music, and stretch your body. All of these things help to calm your nervous system and get your brain back online.

Nourishment – What are your mind and body seeking? Care, time, patience, enjoyment. Take time to write down and explore the things you enjoyed but no longer do. Think back to when you were a child, what did you love doing? Jumping in puddles, riding your bike, on the swings; whatever it was find ways that you can recreate that in your adult life. Make time every day to have 5 or 10 mins doing something you love doing and watch how it changes you for the better. Don’t put pressure on yourself to spend ages doing it and make sure it is easy to access, otherwise you may give up because it takes too much effort. Start slowly and enjoy the simple things.

Setting boundaries – Do you find it hard to say no to others? Do you struggle to make time for yourself? Do you have a list of things to do that seem to never get done? Perhaps it is time to set yourself some boundaries, starting with yourself first. Decide the time you switch off from work and stick to that time, so you do not keep checking your emails. Leave your phone out of reach, give yourself a digital break at some point in the day and evening. If you have work that requires your full attention, put a message on your emails and or phone advising you won’t be checking messages until a certain time, and if urgent to call the main switchboard. At the beginning of your day decide what you are going to give priority to on your to-do list and at the end of the day acknowledge what you have been able to achieve and put what is outstanding on the list for tomorrow.

Rest and Sleep – Did you know that sleep is the easiest way to recharge yourself? You would never let your phone or laptop run out of charge, but you let yourself deplete. Having a mini break during

the day is important, especially in between meetings, so put that rest/recovery time into your diary. If you have something scheduled in your calendar, then it is more likely to happen.

Create a good sleep routine that does not include any digital device. Do something you find relaxing, have a bath, read a book, listen to music, or do some gentle yoga or meditate, but try not to watch something that overstimulates your brain. Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep is the best way to look after yourself for a good recovery and sets up for the next day with a good start.

Movement – Maybe your feel that you are lacking in motivation and have low energy. The thought of moving is too much. But do you know that doing something for 2 minutes, like skipping, jumping up and down, or running on the spot is a way to discharge your stress? Set a timer to go off in 2 min bursts of activity and notice how your body feels after those 2 minutes. Set yourself a goal of completing your stress cycle at the end of the working day by simply doing 2 minutes of physical activity and before you know it you will build it up to 5 minutes. To help our bodies if we can ideally do a 10 or 15-minute walk daily that will make a big difference.

Food and Drink – It is important to fuel our bodies with the right food. After all, you would never put the wrong fuel into your car, and you would never ride a bike with a puncture. So, think about what your body needs to function well. Drinking alcohol delays our sleep recovery, so if you do have an alcoholic drink consider when the best time is to drink and perhaps restrict it to weekends.

Start your action plan today – just choose one small thing that does not overwhelm you and begin doing this action on a regular basis.

In no way should the information provided here be considered medical advice and at all times the advice of a medical professional should supersede recommendations made here. We do not provide medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or medical services of any kind. If you have any specific questions or concerns about any medical matter, you should consult your doctor, or healthcare provider, as soon as possible

Next Article

Is Your Diet Holding Back Your Business? Unlocking the Productivity-Boosting Power of Nutrition and Gut Health

Is your diet holding back your businesses full potential? Or peharps you feel you could do with a productivity boost […]
Read Article