3 ways to avoid burnout
Work, exercise, cooking, cleaning, socialising, looking after small humans…We all tend to pack a lot into our 16 (or more!) waking hours. When you’re trying to get ahead in your life and career, it can be tempting to take on every opportunity that comes your way. Unfortunately, this often leads to biting off way more than you can chew. Not only does it mean spreading yourself too thinly across your many responsibilities, it can also lead to a debilitating mental state called burnout.
What is burnout?
First of all, it’s important to understand the difference between stress and burnout. When you experience stress, it sparks a reaction in your nervous system which releases adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream. In certain situations (and in small amounts) this can actually be useful, as it lets the body know when it needs to react quickly. However, when stress is prolonged it puts a lot of pressure on the body — eventually leading to breaking point. This state of complete mental, physical and emotional exhaustion is known as burnout.
When someone is experiencing burnout, they often feel drained, unmotivated, distracted and emotionally removed. It may manifest in them being unable to perform their duties at work or in conflict in their relationships. For some, it may even make just getting out of bed in the morning feel as difficult as climbing Mount Everest. The thing about burnout is that it doesn’t happen overnight. Think of it like a candle – it needs to burn for a while before it eventually fizzles out. For this reason, the best way to avoid burnout is to be aware of it. After all, prevention is always better than cure! By taking steps to alleviate stress during those chaotic periods of your life, you can stop burnout in its tracks. Here’s how.
1. Learn to say no
In a society that glorifies being busy, it can be hard to say ‘no’ to things. You may even feel selfish, lazy or ungrateful for doing so! However, being a people pleaser is a surefire way to end up in burnout city. We’ve all been in the situation where we’ve accepted an invitation out of obligation and when the day actually arrives, all you want to do is curl up on the lounge and watch Netflix. Not only is it taking up valuable time in your already overflowing schedule, you’re also doing the person who invited you a disservice by not showing up as your best self. You may have heard of writer Derek Siver’s “Hell yeah!” philosophy. Essentially, if a project, event or opportunity doesn’t make him say “Hell yeah!”, it’s a no. This is a great rule of thumb to live by when it comes to avoiding burnout.
2. Practice self-care
Obviously, there are things in life you can’t just say ‘no’ to, like taking the dog to the vet or doing your job. As much as I’m sure we’d all love to able to take a month-long vacation from our lives, sometimes it’s just not possible. That’s where practicing self-care comes in. While it may not feel like you’ve got time to look after your mental wellbeing during these busy times, they’re actually when you need to prioritise it the most! Your self-care practice can be anything you like. It could be meditation, exercise, getting a facial or even seeing a kinesiologist to release the build-up of negative energy. As long as it makes you feel good and is something you’re doing just for you, it counts as self-care! Making time for this once or twice a week will go a long way in reducing stress and warding off burnout.
3. Listen to your body
At the end of the day, you know your body better than anybody else. You’ve only lived in it your entire life! The body has endless ways to send signals that you’re rundown, like low energy, digestive issues, changes in appetite, headaches, back pain, teeth grinding and an inability to focus. Keep an eye out for these warning signs and put those first two steps into action when necessary!