How To Deal With Burnout
When you experience burnout problems seem insurmountable, everything looks bleak and it’s difficult to muster up the energy to care, let alone take action to help yourself. But you have a lot more control over stress than you may think. There are positive steps you can take to deal with overwhelming stress and get your life back into balance. One of the most effective is to reach out to others.
Social contact is nature’s antidote to stress and talking face to face with a good listener is one of the fastest ways to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to “fix” your stressors; they just have to be a good listener, someone who’ll listen attentively without becoming distracted or expressing judgment.
RECOGNIZE – Watch for the warning signs of burnout.
REVERSE – Undo the damage by seeking support and managing stress.
RESILIENCE – Build resilience to stress by taking care of your physical and emotional health.
TURN TO OTHER PEOPLE
- Be more sociable with your coworkers - Developing friendships with people you work with can help buffer you from burnout. When you take a break, for example, instead of directing your attention to your smartphone, try engaging your teammates. Or schedule social events together after work.
- Limit your contact with negative people - Hanging out with negative-minded people who do nothing but complain will only drag down your mood and outlook. If you have to work with a negative person, try to limit the amount of time you spend together.
- Connect with a cause or a community group that is personally meaningful to you. Joining a religious, social, or support group can give you a place to talk to like-minded people about how to deal with daily stress—and to make new friends. If your field has a professional association, you can attend meetings and interact with others coping with the same workplace demands.
- Find new friends - If you don’t feel that you have anyone to turn to, it’s never too late to build new friendships and expand your social network.
REFRAME THE WAY YOU LOOK AT WORK
- Try to find some value in your work - Focus on aspects of the job that you do enjoy, even if it’s just chatting with your coworkers at lunch. Changing your attitude towards your job can help you regain a sense of purpose and control. Rediscover you professional purpose and meaning (include MAGIC resources)
- Try to integrate your two most critical aspects of life: lifestyle and workstyle – Discuss with your supervisor and colleagues work-life solutions that will harmonize your life: waste walk, flexible work schedule, etc.
- Make friends at work - Having friends to chat and joke with during the day can help relieve stress from an unfulfilling or demanding job, improve your job performance, or simply get you through a rough day.
- Take time off - If burnout seems inevitable, try to take a complete break from work. Go on vacation, use up your sick days, ask for a temporary leave-of-absence, anything to remove yourself from the situation. Use the time away to recharge your batteries and pursue other methods of recovery.
REEVALUATE YOUR PRIORITIES
- Set boundaries - Don’t overextend yourself. Learn how to say “no” to requests on your time. If you find this difficult, remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the commitments you want to make.
- Take a daily break from technology - Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking email or social media.
- Nourish your creative side - Creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout. Try something new, start a fun project, or resume a favorite hobby. Choose activities that have nothing to do with work or whatever is causing your stress.
- Set aside relaxation time - Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response (Virtual Energy Break).
- Set aside recovery time – Close the door behind you when you finish your work day and focus on family, friend, hobbies and other environments and activities that help you disconnect
- Get plenty of sleep – Feeling tired can exacerbate burnout by causing you to think irrationally. Keep your cool in stressful situations by getting a good night’s sleep.
MAKE EXERCISE A PRIORITY
- Even though it may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re burned out, exercise is a powerful antidote to stress and burnout. It’s also something you can do right now to boost your mood.
- Aim to exercise for 30 minutes or more per day or break that up into short, 10-minute bursts of activity. A 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours.
- Rhythmic exercise, where you move both your arms and legs, is a hugely effective way to lift your mood, increase energy, sharpen focus, and relax both the mind and body. Try walking, running, weight training, swimming, martial arts, or even dancing.
- To maximize stress relief, instead of continuing to focus on your thoughts, focus on your body and how it feels as you move: the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the wind on your skin.
SUPPORT YOUR MOOD AND ENERGY LEVELS WITH A HEALTHY DIET
- Minimize sugar and refined carbs - You may crave sugary snacks or comfort foods such as pasta or French fries, but these high-carbohydrate foods quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy.
- Reduce your high intake of foods that can adversely affect your mood, such as caffeine, unhealthy fats, and foods with chemical preservatives or hormones.
- Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids to give your mood a boost –The best sources are fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines), seaweed, flaxseed, and walnuts.
- Avoid nicotine - Smoking when you’re feeling stressed may seem calming, but nicotine is a powerful stimulant, leading to higher, not lower, levels of anxiety.
- Drink alcohol in moderation - Alcohol temporarily reduces worry, but too much can cause anxiety as it wears off.