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Burnout occurs when you lose your excitement for life, you find yourself just going through the motions day-to-day. You feel like nothing matters, nothing is exciting, and there is no real reason to get out of bed in the morning.
We have all encountered times like these. So how do we deal with burnout? Here are some tips.
Creating healthy and sustainable boundaries is an important piece of preventing burnout or reversing its effects if you’ve already hit that wall.
Boundaries that can help include:
- Beginning and ending all work communication at a specific time every day to make room for other life experiences.
- Not working during lunch.
- Designating one to two days where you do NO business related activities.
- Getting a virtual assistant to handle mundane tasks, filter emails, and manage your meeting calendar.
There are various ways to set up boundaries that work for your situation, and the key is trying them out with an open mind.
Maintaining those boundaries can be difficult, especially if this is a new practice for you. So it is important that you practise positive self-talk. This is something you should practise for overall mental and emotional well-being, but it can also help you maintain your boundaries.
A big enemy of maintaining boundaries is our feeling that we’re not working hard enough, and the fear of regret for not seizing the moment.
So as you step away from work to hang out with friends, play a game, watch a movie or go walk around outdoors, continually remind yourself that this play time is recharging your batteries to be more effective and efficient at work.
And during those times where you’ve slipped in maintaining your boundaries, don’t beat yourself up about it. Chuckle and set the intention to begin those boundaries again tomorrow.
– Chris Colbert, Founder and CEO of DCP Entertainment
Elon Musk once compared launching a startup to “chewing glass and staring into the abyss.” For Musk — and countless legions of Type-A business types — the need to address burnout before it becomes problematic is self-evident.
That being the case, the recommendation to seek out “effective self-care” shows up in the No. 1 slot on the list of priorities for numerous successful business people.
However, the meaning of that phrase will vary widely. Some people unwind and refresh through regular exercise. For others, it’s meditation. What works well for someone else may not work for you.
The two key concepts to keep in mind are identification and amelioration. Both require a deep level of self-understanding undergirded by some form of external accountability.
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Identification: Common symptoms of burnout include reduced productivity, mental fog, changes in sleep or diet patterns, high blood pressure, and mood swings. Often these shifts occur imperceptibly, which is why heading off burnout will necessitate at least one voice outside your head that you have “deputised” to call changes in behaviour to your attention. Of course, this presupposes you will pay attention when a trusted friend or co-worker waves the warning flag.
Amelioration: Once the warning flag has gone up, it’s time to shift the workload, start clearing other priorities off your weekly planner, and intentionally pursue those activities that restore and revitalise you. In one of his blog posts, Sir Richard Branson encourages others to feel no guilt when it’s time to stop work. After all, if you don’t allow your mind and body to rejuvenate, you might win the immediate battle to complete specific tasks. Still, you will likely lose the capacity to work steadily over years and decades.
You are a unique individual. Pay attention to people, places, and things that drain you. Likewise, make a note when you find yourself refreshed and ready to go. The entry fee for victory over burnout is simply acknowledging that you are finite and limited. Take steps to ensure that you catch yourself trying to be all things to all people all the time!
– Kimberly Zhang, Editor-in-Chief at Under30CEO
Stay productive even when on the verge of burning out
1. Lower your expectations for yourself. Remembering that good enough is good enough gets me through many low periods. Not everything needs to be 100%, and some things can wait until you feel better.
2. Reprioritise. Make a list of all your responsibilities and see which ones are crucial and which ones can wait. Identifying the most critical task and downgrading the less time-sensitive will take a lot of stress off your plate.
3. Remember that you are your own most valuable asset. Burnout is a mental health condition and a sign that your environment might need some changes. When you’re feeling better, look at what might be ramping up your anxiety and see if you can make some changes. Do what’s best for you without shame, and take the time you need to get better.
– Maria Black at MySoulBalm
Support loved ones
In what ways can we support a loved one going through burnout?
Before giving a hand to someone experiencing burnout, I want you to know they might be in an emotionally vulnerable state right now.
Any conversations could make your loved one feel low or defensive, and they might push you away anytime. However, don’t let your ego come in your way and force you to give up. Just be patient with them.
Here are the seven simplest ways you can provide the best support to your loved ones struggling with burnout:-
1. When they ask you to give them space, don’t ask questions or forcefully accompany them. Let them enjoy solitude for some time. It would help declutter their thoughts and refresh themselves.
2. Don’t be patronising and toss up generic useless advice that everyone already knows and says. For example, statements such as “burnout is a part of life. Just keep going, and you’ll get rid of it.” would frustrate them even more.
3. Convince them to take a recovery break from work because they may be working too much for too long.
The quote by Michael Gungor, “Burnout happens when you try to avoid being human for too long,” would massively help you to convince them.
4. Do fun activities with them to keep them distracted from pondering over their work. You could try watching movies, playing games, or hanging out with them.
5. Don’t start any conversations that might trigger their burnout feelings. For example, if they experienced burnout because they are working too hard in their business, asking them “how’s business going” every day won’t be a good idea.
6. Suggest for them to spend time doing the things they love. Forcing them to do something against their will may end up frustrating them even more.
7. At least, for now, prevent your loved ones from pushing past their limits. If you see them working too much again, pull them back.
– Varun Pahwa at Uprisehigh.com
Why is being kind to yourself essential when we’re experiencing burnout?
There’s a misconception that kindness is meant for others.
Most of us know how to be kind towards others — to be considerate towards service staff, compassionate towards those in need, and gracious towards the people around us. For some, it’s as natural as breathing; for others, it’s more of a work-in-progress.
The majority of us would at least understand the fundamentals of kindness and how it can be applied to others. Yet, we often struggle to extend this same grace towards ourselves.
While we might baulk at the idea of forcing others to work until they reach physical or mental exhaustion, many of us have no qualms about pushing ourselves to do that. We work long hours, building stress and ignoring our own needs in favour of doing more.
The end result is, of course, burnout.
No matter how we justify it to ourselves, reaching the point of burnout is a sign that we’ve been significantly unkind to both our minds and bodies. That is a problem — if we aren’t able to take the first step of treating ourselves with the kindness and respect that we deserve, then we can’t extend that same compassion to others.
So how can we be kind to ourselves during burnout?
The first step would be to slow down and understand our needs. Without knowing why we’ve burnt ourselves out, it is difficult to help ourselves exit that state. Take some time to figure out what exactly caused the burnout and then address it.
In the meantime, do some things that make you happy — take a walk, watch a movie, or curl up with a good book. Being kind to yourself isn’t very different from being kind to others — the aim is still to extend graciousness and compassion to be a positive force in life.
Being kind to ourselves also brings us many health benefits. Research has found that people who practise self-love and compassion not only experience less stress but have a lower heart rate and blood pressure and a stronger immune system.
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Keep practising kindness on yourself, even when you’ve overcome your burnout.
Being kind is a way of making our own lives and the lives of others meaningful. It allows us to communicate better with others, be more self-compassionate, and also be a positive force in other people’s lives.
– Dr William Wan, General Secretary at Singapore Kindness Movement
This is a curated list of advice from experts at Porch.com.