“Burnout” is a physical, mental and emotional state of diminished energy, quality, and general appreciation of life. It is unequivocally universal, can predispose to anxiety and depression, and affects many on one level or another in our fast paced, highly demanding and arguably mentally overstimulated society.
Though we live in an era of readily available inspiration and abundance, many of us find that time escapes our control and that our physical, mental and emotional demands are at an all time high. This can trap us into a pattern of constant internal struggle, where we are driven by the sole motive of “keeping up” to prevent what we personally percieve to be avoidable and difficult consequences.
Burnout is conceptualized as a general feeling of exhaustion and inability to cope due to prolonged stress. It tends to manifest with a multitude of symptoms which include:
- A general lack of energy
- A lack of interest in work related activities
- Feelings of demotivation
- Reduced performance as a result of the above
The symptoms of burnout can occur independently, but also in the context of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
Understanding the concept of burnout in itself, is a powerful start to heal its effects. Stress being the core issue, approaching the symptoms with self-criticism can exacerbate and prolong them further – recovering from burnout requires self-compassion, self-devotion and most importantly, self-reflection.
A combination of lifestyle measures, mindset changes and self-education can help you work through burnout and evolve through it and help you re-emerg with improved energy levels, motivation and a sense of control. Below is a list of considerations to make and tips to follow when dealing with burnout.
First, you need to change your mindset.
Reflect and take a closer look of your life.
“The ability to honestly and quietly reflect on one’s life is one of the most powerful tools for personal growth.” (Richard Carlson)
Tracing back to the origins of your burnout may require a re-analysis of your passions, purpose and priorities – though this may seem disconcerting at first, understanding it as an opportunity for evolvement will help you reconceptualize your life.
Tune in to what your body is telling you.
“Listen to your body. Accept that some days it’s just not your day, and that’s fine.” (Juinn Ruei)
The physical manifestations of burnout are your biggests clues to tune in. Listening to your body is an important skill, and one that if often dismissed in today’s world. When your body reveals a lack of energy, understand that it is a message to wind down, rest and recover. When you are feeling lighter and more productive, that is your body signalling vitality.
Keep things simple, don’t complicate them.
“Complexity is your enemy. Anybody can make things complicated. It’s hard to keep things simple”. (Richard Branson)
The understanding that complex thinking is not required at all times can significantly help conserve valuable energy. Though major projects and problems may require abstract thinking, day to day life approached in a simple way can help ease stress levels and potentiate energy for the things that matter to you most. Practicing discernment in this area therefore, may prove very beneficial in your progress through burnout.
Take action to work through your burnout.
Schedule down time to reset yourself.
Scheduling down time is the pivotal key to resurfacing from an episode of burnout. Easier said than done with many obligations to fulfil, you will find that timetabling alone time allows you to reset your mind to productive levels. Discover what you enjoy, and allow that to help you.
Save time for some inspiration.
Often during an episode of burnout, we lose perspective of why our job matters to us. We feel overwhelmed, and question our priorities. By allowing yourself to evolve and grow through inspirational resources such as TED talks and wide reading, you give yourself a chance to reconnect to your priorities once again.
Reconsider your eating habits.
Burnout being a state of diminished energy can be re-vitalized with healthy foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Being mindful of eating and discovering the balance that is right for you can be both fun and healing at the same time.
Disconnect from technology for a while.
Overuse of technology keeps us in a permanent state of being “switched on”. Giving yourself rest from constant messaging, checking of e-mails and surfing the internet without a clear purpose will allow you to clear your mind and rebalance your energy levels.
Engage in activities that you love and enjoy doing.
Moving in a way you love will help restore the mind body connection that is seemingly lost during episodes of burnout. By allowing your body to help you by engaging in activity you are passionate about, you redirect your mental stress and make space for a sense of refreshment.