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Last Updated on August 21, 2020

How to Recover From Burnout Quickly and Feel Better

How to Recover From Burnout Quickly and Feel Better

Professionals who experience burnout from work are often experiencing other difficulties in life that are compounding. While burnout can feel like a never-ending set of negative emotions, you can learn how to recover from burnout and feel better. If you do things right, burnout recovery may not even take very long!

Burnout can come with physical and mental symptoms. Meanwhile, you can suffer from burnout even if you are satisfied with your job and career. Therefore, learning how to recover from burnout is essential if you want to continue being productive and satisfied in your life and career.

Does Exhaustion Cause All Burnouts?

Christina Maslach and Herbert Freudenberger coined the term “burnout” in the 70s[1]. As psychologists, they independently understudied the impact of burnout on health workers and social service workers. They targeted their respondents based on chronic stress experienced, as well as the volume of interaction they had with others daily.

They discovered that burnout is not necessarily about exhaustion. There could be a detachment that comes in the form of displaying cynical behaviors towards clients or colleagues.

Also, it could come in the form of a sense of hopelessness or self-defeat with work.

Maslach subsequently came up with the Maslach Burnout Inventory, or MBI. This model is an inventory of 22 things that measure the three dimensions of burnout: depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and personal accomplishment. This model eventually turned out to be a measuring tool, or a blueprint, in the industry[2].

Furthermore, a group of Danish scientists developed a newer model known as the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory, or CBI. This model analyzed burnout on three different dimensions: personal, work-related, and client-related[3].

All the aforementioned burnout models are quite complex, so instead of looking at them, you can consider these symptoms to see if you’re experiencing burnout. From there, you can begin to learn how to recover from burnout in a way that is unique to you.

Symptoms of Burnout From Work

Symptoms of burnout vary widely depending on the type of work you do, the environment you work in, the the kind of personality you have. If you notice any of these things, it may be a sign that you’re experiencing burnout:

  • You’ve lost interest in your present job or project but cannot terminate it.
  • You’re always exhausted.
  • You need to motivate yourself to carry out the smallest tasks.
  • You feel you are compensated less compared to the value you bring into the job or project.
  • You have withdrawn from interacting with others.
  • You become short-tempered while communicating with clients and colleagues.
  • You have turned to bad habits like drugs, alcohol, high sugar intake, sedentary lifestyle, or overeating.
  • You question life and career choices generally.
  • You are experiencing physical symptoms like headaches, heart palpitations, or stomachaches.

The good news is that you can come out of it and learn how to recover from burnout once you become aware of the signs.

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5 Strategies to Recover From Burnout Quickly

The following strategies may help you bounce back from burnout.

1. Focus On Your Projects

The famous American Psychologist Abraham Maslow, in 1943, reiterated that anyone could achieve happiness as long as they can expressed themselves and maximized their potential.

This is what he termed “self-actualization.” He warned:

“The story of the human race is that of men and women selling themselves short.”[4]

Successful leaders of companies understand the significance of self-actualization. That’s why they allow their employees to work on personal or social projects. They also enable their workers to come up with and own social projects, which they implement as corporate social responsibilities.

If you’re working a 9-5 job, ensure you dedicate some hours in the morning or evening to personal projects, such as creating a blog or an app that solves problems for others.

That way, you can express your values while striving to attain your professional goals. This will help you feel a sense of control over how you are spending your time. Set boundaries between your personal and professional life to improve this. 

2. Practice Mindfulness

Meditation is a time-tested strategy to deal with burnout. According to research from Denmark, consistent meditation is connected to the development of more gray matter in your brain stem[5]. This can improve memory, self-control, decision-making, and more.

You can rewire your mind and brain to be more focused and productive by practicing meditation daily. Start small. Take a 10-minute break during work or early in the morning to practice mindfulness.

3. Detoxify Through Exercise

Toxins are poisons locked up in your system. One of the best things to do when you are learning how to recover from burnout is to detoxify through exercise. Exercise can increase your heart rate, which pumps blood faster and detoxifies your system.

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Have you noticed that you naturally feel better after a prolonged exercise that raises your blood pressure?

Anxiety is one of the major symptoms you will experience when you’re burned out from work, and exercise is a great way to quickly relieve that anxiety.

Joshua Broman, in a 2004 study, revealed that students who practiced exercise became less sensitive to anxiety[6]. Several additional studies have buttressed this benefit.

Incorporate regular exercise into your routine by swimming before work, taking a long walk in the afternoon, or spending some time at the gym in the evening.

4. Practice Journaling

Writing can heal. Writing about your emotions and experiences on a daily basis helps you process them, which can expedite the healing process.

One prominent literature review supported the idea that writing about your experiences can generate long term improvements in your mood and health[7].

How do you experience this healing when you are burned out from work life?

Keep a professional journal!

For instance, you can take a thirty-minute break during your weekends or quiet moments to assess your performance, progress, and the challenges you have faced in the past few days.

Itemize your achievements — the projects as well as the challenges that are holding you back. You can also list some uncertainties or questions about your present work. That way, you can discover patterns in your professional life and reflect on the next action to take.

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Journaling can enable you to discover solutions to potential issues before they surface. This technique is highly practical for those who love expressing themselves. However, if you don’t enjoy writing, you can use the bullet point format or memo feature on your phone to record answers to those questions.

5. Estimate the Tasks

Do you often feel like a superhuman when it comes to working, and then barely complete half of what you have planned to do?

If this is a common problem for you, try to learn how to accurately estimate how much time a task will take and how many tasks you can do in a day. When in doubt, overestimate the time.

It takes practice to become perfect in estimating tasks. Nevertheless, a surefire strategy that you can use to ensure you are working on the most important tasks is called the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, shown below.

Use the Eisenhower Matrix to learn how to recover from burnout.

    You can recover from burnout by revamping your work strategy using this model. Find out what task deserves most of your attention and in what order by establishing priorities.

    5 Job Burnout Triggers

    Once you have learned how to recover from burnout, it’s important to be able to recognize burnout triggers so that you can avoid more burnout in the future. Burnout recovery is best when you don’t have to use it!

    There are many things that may trigger burnout. Here are the most common culprits.

    1. Workload

    You can be more productive when you are working on a workload that aligns with your capacity. You will face more opportunities to rest and recover. It will also be an avenue for you to develop yourself and grow.

    That’s not the case when you are overloaded with work or are facing unrealistic deadlines set by your boss. You will lose the chance of regaining your balance.

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    2. Absence of Autonomy

    The feeling that you don’t have access to vital resources and a say in various decisions that affect your professional life can impact your health.

    For instance, do you receive calls from your boss all night? Does your company saddle you with responsibilities beyond your capacity? Do you have what it takes to influence your work environment?

    3. Environment

    Who do you collaborate with? How trusting and supportive are those work relationships? In some instances, you can’t choose your work environment or colleagues, but you can optimize the relationship.

    Your environment can upgrade your engagement or downgrade it.

    4. Reward

    If the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards on the job don’t align with your level of effort, you may begin to feel a lack of motivation to exert any effort at all.

    For instance, you may need a face-time with your employer, positive feedback, or an increase in your compensation.

    Find out which reward makes you feel appreciated, and seek avenues to receive more of it.

    5. Values Mismatch

    If you are working in an organization that doesn’t share your same values, you will continue to see a decline in your level of motivation. Motivations and values are inbuilt in people and organizations. For instance, if you strongly believe in making an impact first, before money, you will experience burnout on the job in an organization that prioritizes money over impact.

    Final Thoughts

    Burnout from work is not only about getting exhausted. It is a multidimensional issue that demands a multifaceted solution.

    Don’t forget, you need to diagnose the problem first and make the best effort to change. If, despite all, you still fail, then you might need to reassess your work and decide if you’re where you need to be.

    More Tips on How to Recover From Burnout

    Featured photo credit: Doğukan Şahin via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2020

    2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

    2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

    Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

    Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

    Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

    Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

    Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

    By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

    The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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    1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

    Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

    Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

    Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

    When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

    The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

    Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

    To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

    Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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    We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

    It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

    After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

    Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

    Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

    To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

    Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

    Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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    When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

    Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

    We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

    When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

    Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

    2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

    If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

    The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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    To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

    With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

    So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

    • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
    • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
    • Say no to all else.
    • Say no again.
    • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
    • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
    • Meditate.
    • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
    • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
    • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
    • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
    • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
    • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

    Final Thoughts

    These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

    Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

    More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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