BURNOUT. In last week’s article, we talked about how it was the bane of every living organism’s existence. Lamented about how we’ve all been there—that state of mental, physical and emotional exhaustion that leaves us feeling too drained and overwhelmed to function. Covered how it was caused by excessive and prolonged stress as well as the different stages of the condition.
But one of its more sinister and silent causes is when we try to take as much stress we believe we can without taking any breaks—thinking that we’re fine until realizing (too late) that we aren’t. It’s kind of like that science experiment related to global warming someone wrote about that involved two frogs and hot water.
They put the first one directly in boiling water and it jumped out right away while the other frog started with room temperature water that just slowly boiled. The second frog’s body just kept adjusting until it eventually died from the heat it didn’t notice it was in.
The road to burnout is what happened to frog number two. It starts with the little things we don’t notice have piled up into ginormous heaps of stress.
A lot of factors lead to burnout. Fortunately, this also means that a lot of factors can help someone prevent or recover from it. Here are a few tips on how:
1. Recognize what you’re going through. The first step is to recognize the symptoms of burnout—that you’re going through some sort of a hurdle and want to get out of it.
2. Reach out to people. Find new friends. Join a group with a cause that is meaningful to you. The feeling of helplessness is a lonely road. One of the natural ways to de-stress and snap out of it is social contact. Opening up to people can help you more than you realize. You don’t necessarily have to open up to people who can immediately offer you solutions or fix the things that stress you out. The best person to open up to is someone who is a good listener and will do so without judgement. On that note...
3. Cut off or stay away from toxicity. It is important to recognize the toxic aspects of your life and reduce contact, if you can’t cut them off completely. Hanging out with negative people will just drag down your mindset and outlook. Lurking around social media and comparing yourself to other people is another really bad trigger. So try, as much as possible, to limit the time you spend doing those things or being with those people—and that is where detoxification begins.
4. Re-frame your outlook on work. The easiest way to stop job burnout is to stop doing the job, right? Unfortunately, life isn’t as simple as we would like it to be. We need money! To get money, we need that job. Another way to go about it is to, instead, take deliberate steps toward improving your state of mind. How? Try to find value in your work by focusing on aspects of the job you do like (like lunch breaks with the office mates, for example) and reminding yourself about what you do can to help other people.
5. Find balance in your life. Oftentimes burnout is caused by an imbalance. If you hate your job, find satisfaction and purpose in other aspects of your life like friends, family, hobbies—spend your free time doing something that brings you joy. Take time off when you need it. Set boundaries by learning to say no. Set aside time for relaxation and get loads of sleep. Have a 30-minute daily break from all technology whatsoever. Meditate, exercise and do something that nourishes your creativity.
There are so many things we can do—and stop doing—that will help us slowly break free from that mind-numbing prison of burnout. But the most important way to overcome it is mindfulness. We have to be mindful about the things that cause stress and stay mindful about how to manage them. Recognize. Reach out. Cut off. Re-frame. Find balance. These are five little self-help tips that can change your life, if you let them.