You know that video of a kid who’s running on a treadmill and all of the sudden the belt starts moving really really fast ? And the little kid starts crying because she’s running really fast and she’s scared she can't keep up, but she can’t stop running or else she will fall flat on her face…
Yeah. That’s what burnout can feel like.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.
This can look like work burnout, life burn out and now, pandemic burnout.
Signs of Burnout
Burn out can has both physical and emotional symptoms. It can feel like being tired and drained, change in appetite or sleep habits, lower immunity, headaches. Emotional signs of burnout are; loss of motivation, feeling defeated, detachment, incredibly negative outlook, or a reduced ability to do one’s work.
Causes of Burnout
Burnout became more recognized this past year with the pandemic. There is a concern for doctors, nurses and those on the front line of fighting the global pandemic. Once many of us began working from home, burnout became more prevalent and noticeable. Burnout often stems from work, feeling overworked and undervalued, or not taking a break/vacation in a LONG time. Although it is not a medical condition and can occur in any workplace where there is stress, burnout is recognized by the World Health Organization as a syndrome.
Bounce Back from Burnout
More likely than not, many of us have experienced burnout. So how can we hopefully avoid the complete fiery blaze?
Always seek out help.
If you are able to, seek out a therapist or a counselor who can help you navigate burnout, stress or any other difficulties you might be going through.
Unfortunately, therapy is not an easy or accessible option for many people. But there are resources, practices and tools that may help you bounce back from burnout. Even if you aren’t experiencing burnout, some of these tips will aid in overall physical, emotional and mental health.
Bounce Back From Burnout Tips
1. Physical Self-Care
I always talk about this because it is true.
Have you ever heard of Maslow's Hierarchy of needs? The very base of the pyramid is physiological needs. If we dont address our physical wellbeing, we can’t support all of our other needs. It might feel like being physically active is the LAST thing you want to do when you are going through burnout. But exercise is a powerful tool to help stress and burnout. Doing some gentle stretching, walking for 30 min or even taking 10 min short breaks to walk around can significantly help lift your mood, increase energy, focus, and relax your mind and body.
2. Notice what you are ( or aren’t) putting in your body
It can be easy to grab the quickest meal or the sugary snack that will make you feel good in the moment. Or some of us are so stressed it’s hard to even eat anything at all!
When you feel the burnout coming, arm yourself with nutritious food that is low in sugar, balanced in healthy fats, proteins and carbs. Also, watch out for your caffeine intake. We might feel like we need that extra boost to help us get through the day, but caffeine (coffee) is known for ridding your body of certain essential nutrients that you need. For example, it can rob your body of magnesium. Your body uses magnesium to fight against anxiety and mental health. Instead of grabbing the quad shot espresso and the multiple energy drinks, drink more water and HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE. I know it might be easier said than done, but trust me… your body needs extra love and care when you are on the verge of exhaustion.
3. Change your environment
Take time off. Change up where you are.
This is a tough one. But so so helpful.
Many of us have been cooped up in the same space for longer than we would like. Everything from the house, city, and the state you live in to the weather in your area, the social climate, and your work environment can affect your mental health.
If you are on track and about to experience burnout, try to take a complete break from work. Go on vacation, ask for time off. Ask someone if they can take care of the kids, dogs or anyone you might be taking care of. It might seem impossible at first, but you deserve time for yourself. To recharge so that you can continue being the amazing person you are!
When we get out of our environment we bring variance to our life. New environments, places and people can liven up or life! Now that travel ( for those of us in the states) is looking to pick back up, it might be the perfect time to start planning a trip.Traveling promotes happiness and helps you take your mind off stressful situations. This leads to lower cortisol levels, making you feel more calm and content.
It’s been one heck of a year. You deserve a break.
Again, if you feel like you are on the verge of burnout seek out professional help if you can!
Everyone’s situation is different and access to self-help resources might be limited, and while there are many additional ways to help deal with burnout, these three tips are what I personally like to focus on when I’m feeling stressed and feel the burnout creeping in.
It might seem impossible at first, but I promise the moment you decide to figure out how to make time for you, and to put your mental and physical health as a priority… you will be able to show up as the healthiest, happiest version of you.
You are worthy of taking care of you!