Happy Thursday, friends!
I hope you’ve had a lovely week and are ready for the weekend – it’s almost here! I’ve got a sightly busy weekend ahead with preparing for a small gathering to celebrate my college graduation. Luckily, I have the whole summer ahead of me to wind down ; )
Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to have an entire summer off to explore and focus on themselves. Often, we’re busy for months at a time and forget to make time for ourselves. This can lead to a common occurrence called “burnout”. Many of us have experienced burnout in one form or another, and it can be super hard on us. Being burnt out can make it hard to be creative or productive, or even hard to want to be creative or productive. Although we’re bound to feel burnt out eventually, I’m a firm believer in being in control of your own life. In today’s blog post, I’m going to run through how to tell if you’re on the verge of being burnt out, how to prevent burnout, and even how to get back on track once you already are burnt out. I hope this can help you get back to feelin’ normal!
Essentially, burn out is extended periods of stress with little or no time for recovery, or in other words, it’s like prolonged exhaustion. Burn out can actually take different forms and mean something different for all of us. There are different types of burn out, different signs of burnout, and different levels.
Burnout can be physical, mental or emotional. Physical burnout is our bodies’ way of telling us we’re too stressed. We can sense physical burnout through tension, inflammation, frequent illness, decreased energy and sleep troubles. Mental burnout is the one I personally experience the most. Mental burnout can occur through a lack of motivation, procrastination, decreased creativity, negative thoughts, poor memory and problems with focusing. Emotional burnout is the third type. We experience an emotional burnout when our bodies’ hormones are out of sync, which is typical during stress. Emotional burnout is apparent when we feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety, frustration, irritability, constant dread, feeling emotionless or detached, or having constant negative emotions. There are many other signs of burnout, but these are some of the most common.
Not only are there different types of burnout, but there are different levels as well. On the less-burnt out end of the spectrum, one may feel content but have a busy mind, and may feel overworked, but they are still able to produce creative content. As one begins to feel more burnt out, they may make less time for themselves, and feel less creative overtime as they begin to feel more overworked. Eventually, negative feelings may begin to arise and personal relationships will start to suffer. On the more severe end of the burnout spiral, one may feel hopeless, and unable to cope or focus. One will experience a lack of energy, confidence and may feel as if they have nothing left to give.
Although the occasional bout of burnout is inevitable, there are several things you can do to prevent regular or intense burnout.
- Keep a journal. Every time you begin to feel burnt out, take notes in a journal. Track how you feel, what made you feel that way, etc. Overtime, you’ll begin to see patterns within your burnout phases and you can quickly make the changes you need.
- Take care of yourself. Make time for exercise, adequate sleep, proper nutrition, etc. Find your work/school/internship-life balance. Even if you think you don’t have time, make time. It will help keep your mind, body and soul in shape so you can be more productive and creative later.
- Treat yourself often. By rewarding yourself or pampering yourself regularly, you’re allowing yourself to have something to look forward to. A little “me time” can help you from feeling like you’re drowning in work.
- Take time off regularly. If you have a steady job, you probably have vacation days and sick days. Use them! Take a vacation every year. Even if it’s not in your budget, take the days off and spend the time doing what you want to do! Feeling a mentally exhausted? It’s okay to use a sick day if needed.
- Prioritize. Decide what the most important and most urgent things are and make time for those first. Once you’ve taken care of those, you can move onto the items that are less urgent and less important. This will hopefully manage some of the stress of having a long to-do list!
- Listen to your mind and body. Your body will tell you if it’s not getting enough sleep, exercise or adequate nutrition. Listen to it and make healthy changes!
- Surround yourself with a solid group of people. This is super important. Regularly make plans with your friends and family. Not only are they there for you to talk to, but they can also serve as a fun distraction from your work life.
If you feel as though you’re already in a stage of burnout, here are a few ideas for you to help get out of the downward spiral and get back to feeling great.
- Change your setting. Work from home, take a walk during your lunch break, go to a coffee shop for a meeting… If you’re stuck behind the same desk or in within the same four walls day after day, it can be difficult to have a clear mind.
- Clear your schedule. Go off the grid. Seriously. When I’m super stressed with a boatload of things to do, I feel helpless. When I feel like I can’t handle it anymore, I throw away my to-do list and do something that I want to do, like catch up on sleep or watch a movie. When I’ve had time to relax, I come back with a clear mind and re-write my to-do list. Often, I realize that really little unnecessary tasks were adding extra stress, and I clear those off my schedule.
- Make time for yourself. I know… If you feel overwhelmed and burnt out, how are you going to find time for yourself? You need to MAKE time. If you don’t take time for yourself, you’ll constantly feel overloaded and it will negatively impact the value of your work and your productivity. You have to make the time for yourself if you want to feel better.
- Reevaluate the situation. This is where that handy journal will come in. Use the notes you’ve kept to evaluate your situation. Can you find the source of your burnout? Are you spending more than 40 hours per week at work? Are there a lot of distractions? Are you getting enough sleep or exercise? Reevaluate what’s going on and make changes accordingly.
- Meditate and radiate positive vibes. Take time to breathe and practice mindfulness. Take little breaks during work to breathe and practice calming methods like aromatherapy. Also try your best to think positive thoughts and redirect the negative ones.
- Spend time with loved ones. Friends and family are always there for you when you need them. Call a friend to talk or go to lunch with your mom. They may be able to provide insight and help you in ways you didn’t expect!
- Laugh. Laughter is the best medicine, right?? Watch a good comedy, have a family game night, or listen to your favorite comedian! It will get the good hormones flowin’ and take your mind off the stress.
- Remember your “why”. It can be hard to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing when you feel burnt out. Take a few moments to sit and think. If you can’t come up with a why, then maybe you aren’t doing what you’re meant to be doing. If you can, use that thought to motivate you.
- Ask for help. If you really can’t escape burn out, it’s okay to reach out to someone for help. Whether that’s a friend, your boss, or a mental health professional. Sometimes we all need a little push.
Have you ever experienced burnout? How were you able to combat it and get back on track? I’d love to hear your thoughts!