Burnout has become a huge point of conversation in today’s society as individuals have started identifying the concept of “work/life balance” as a priority. As a society, we typically pride ourselves on hard work and having a strong work ethic. We glorify the hustle and the grind of running non-stop from one task to the next. This non-stop grind is often at a detriment to our well-being, our relationships, and more. Any individual that is exposed to high stress continually can be at risk for experiencing burnout. Burnout can affect those in high-stress career fields (for example doctors, first responders, lawyers, teachers, etc.) or stay-at-home parents caring for children.
Burnout can wreak havoc on your brain and your body if left unchecked. Burnout can manifest as decreased motivation, poor quality of sleep, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, increased irritability, fatigue, muscle tension, headaches, low mood, loss of purpose, and more. Burnout can lead to poor work performance, inability to find joy in your hobbies, and inability to be present with your family or friends.
So…we know that burnout is something we want to prevent or remedy the minute we recognize it. The first necessary step is being honest with yourself and admitting you are either on the road to experiencing burnout or you are already burned out. But, what actionable steps can we take to avoid or overcome burnout? Read along to learn 5 ways you can begin to take action against burnout today!
1) Get Your Rest
Lack of sleep can take a toll on our physical and mental health. Reflect on your sleeping habits over the last week and identify what may not be allowing for a restful night that you are in control of changing. Do you find yourself relentlessly scrolling work emails, binge-watching a show, or thinking of your long to-do list late into the night?
Try to set a boundary surrounding bedtime and reset your sleep schedule. Suggestions for improving your sleeping habits include avoiding caffeine after a certain time in the day, going to sleep at the same time every day, reduce phone usage before bed, listen to a guided meditation or calm music before bed, and try developing a relaxing bedtime routine (for example taking a bath and then reading a book before bed). Try out a few of these ideas and take notice of your quality of sleep after one week. Find what works best for you to ensure you are promoting healthy sleep hygiene.
2) Set Boundaries
Poor boundaries can certainly lead people down the road to burnout. If you continue to give and give without replenishing yourself, what will you be left with at the end of the day? Identify your limits and set healthy boundaries to ensure you are honoring those limits. Identify someone that you can turn to in your life that can help you with accountability and be a source of support at this time and share the boundary you are wishing to set.
An example of a healthy boundary surrounding work may be silencing notifications or turning off your work phone or computer after a certain time to allow for self-care and decompressing at the end of the day. The tasks will be there tomorrow and can be attended to then. For a stay-at-home parent, an example of a healthy boundary may be that they request no visitors at their home after a certain time to allow time for family connection and to reset and rest before the next day.
3) Seek Support
Identify trusted individuals in your life or seek professional support from a counselor to discuss what you are experiencing. As mentioned above, these individuals can help you hold yourself accountable on this journey to recovering from burnout or in your attempt to prevent burnout. These individuals can also lend an ear for you to talk through these struggles and may help you recognize that you are not alone. Many times, we feel like we are the only ones that must feel this way when we are struggling but that is not the case. Relating to someone you trust can help normalize what you are experiencing. Do not be afraid to lean on others whether it be professional support or personal support. Recognizing you need support and then allowing yourself to reach out for help is a strength in itself.
4) Advocate for Yourself
As you identify your limits and set boundaries, you may recognize some concerns must be raised with your supervisor or with your partner. Advocate for yourself using assertive communication to express your needs. The saying “closed mouths don’t get fed” comes to mind here. If you don’t ask for what you need or raise concerns, how can things change? You will not know if a change is possible unless you raise these concerns with the appropriate individual. Speaking up for your needs may allow for a discussion on reducing workload, solidifying hours that you are available for work-related discussions, division of household responsibilities, and more. Of course, not all work environments are supportive and allow for this type of dialogue and you must identify whether or not you have a safe space to express these concerns openly.
5) Schedule Time for Self-Care
Take a look at your day-to-day schedule or your month-to-month calendar and I truly mean take a good hard look. Where are the gaps? Even if you are only finding a 15-minute window here and there, that is enough time to take a moment for intentional engagement in a self-care activity that will help you feel recharged. Did you find a time slot that could work for you? Okay great! Now actually pencil it in. Put self-care on your calendar if that is the only way that you can hold yourself accountable and permit yourself to take a moment for yourself. We take the time to schedule everything else that we deem important. Self-care is not a luxury and is truly essential. Make the time for it! Need tips on quick self-care practices? Check out our blog titled “30 Quick Self-Care Ideas” for suggestions.
After reading this blog, if you recognize that you are experiencing the warning signs of burnout, I urge you to try these tips today! Overcoming burnout is a process and will take time. Be gentle with yourself. You’ve got this!
If you need support while recovering from burnout or trying to reduce the likelihood of experiencing burnout, our counselors at Natural Balance Counseling are here to help. Feel free to reach out to us through the “contact page” on our website to submit an inquiry and schedule a free 15-minute consultation call to see if we would be a good fit for you!