How many of you have experienced or think you might be experiencing burnout? Burnout is when you become exhausted by excessive demands on energy, strength, or resources, usually in the workplace.
Burnout is caused by one of two types of stress:
- Eustress is mild to moderate stress that can be positive, acting as a motivator or energizer.
- Distress, which is chronic, high levels of stress, eventually results in burnout if it's not addressed and managed.
There are warning signs of burnout. Let's take a look at a few:
- Feelings that have the propensity for bouts of being out of control
- Exhaustion and/or depletion of seemingly all your energy
- Reduced interest or productivity in your workplace and your personal life
- Physical disturbances such as aches and pains, trouble sleeping, dizziness, shaking, high blood pressure, muscle tension, jaw clenching, digestive problems, etc., are similar to those experienced with stress but more amplified.
- Feelings of helplessness or being trapped, numb, detached, unmotivated, cynical, or defeated
- Behavioral changes such as neglecting everyday responsibilities, becoming isolated from family, friends, and colleagues, procrastinating, taking frustrations out on others, and substance abuse
But here are eight self-care tips to control burnout and stress and ultimately help you recover from it.
1. TIP: Put work/life balance into practice: For instance, if you are working long hours or your workload feels overwhelming, you might need to establish boundaries between your work and personal life. However, with so many of us working from home, the task may be more challenging than you think, so approach the challenge with that information in mind.
- Schedule a firm "End Time" on your calendar, such as 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., and stick to it. Don't go a minute over your end time even if you must begin to shut down 5-10 minutes before your time is up.
- Turn off notifications on your phone and even silence it if you can. I have children, so mine is always on; however, it vibrates, so it doesn't disturb me while I'm working. Also, during this phone silencing period, consider turning your phone face down so you cannot be tempted to answer because So-and-So is calling. But when your time is up, remember to check your phone for missed messages, notifications, and/or texts. Another good idea is to adjust your contacts so that close contacts, such as your spouse, children, siblings, parents, or grandchildren, will come through as emergency calls when you are not answering calls.
- Restructure your tasks and consider reprioritizing them so that only the essential or impactful ones remain.
- Plan a vacation to unplug and rejuvenate completely. The vacation does not have to be away if you cannot get away but consider a staycation. When doing so, treat that time as if you genuinely are away. That means unplugging and rejuvenating. Plan something you would do if you were on that away vacation—for instance, factor in a spa day or a visit to the nail salon.
- Destress by taking a walk, exercising, or doing yoga after work.
2. TIP: Put good nutrition into practice: A balanced diet contributes to better focus and emotional stability and leads to sustained energy and a more robust immune system. That means—
- Add more whole foods to your diet, which means foods that have not been processed, refined, or had added ingredients. These include fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, meat, fish, and eggs.
- Choose complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Hydrate by drinking half your weight in ounces of water every day. For some of us, that won't be easy if we are not accustomed to hydrating. If that is you, start by getting a relatively large bottle of water or container of water, sit it nearby and every time you see it, make it a habit to take eight fairly big swallows—each time you do that, you are drinking 8 ounces of water. And before you know it, you will have met your quota for the day. Then repeat every day after that.
- Avoid highly processed foods and refined sugars. Good luck with this one. It can be a real challenge; however, it can be done with some intentionality.
3. TIP: Put physical activity into practice: The CDC recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise, 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity training, or an equivalent combination. Regular moving contributes to decreased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Plus, it improves sleep and boosts self-confidence. I invested in a Fitbit, and it has made all the difference. I started in January with 6,000 steps a day with a goal of adding 500 additional steps per month until I reached 10,000 steps a day in September.
I reached my goal, and now it is October, and I'm still doing 10,000 plus steps a day. I wouldn't say I like exercising, so I dance. The Fitbit keeps track, and I can simultaneously watch my calories burn.
I am not where I want to be yet. However, I am much closer to my goal than I am away from it. So, consider these:
- Schedule physical activity into your weekly routines
- Find an exercise buddy
- Find an app like Hinge Health with a playlist of exercises
- Break it up into smaller chunks throughout the day
- Get up and move for at least 5-10 minutes every 1-2 hours. Ten minutes of walking around are the equivalent of 1000 steps.
4. TIP: Put rest and relaxation into practice: Making time for rest outside of sleep is suitable for both the body and the mind. It releases tension, improves mood and cognitive functioning, and makes it easier to cope with adversity.
- Take power naps of between 10-30 minutes. A power nap of 20-30 minutes is ideal and will give you the benefits of resting yet waking without feeling groggy.
- Unplug from technology, for real. Unplug. Don't look at it, don't touch it.
- Journal or read
- Be intentional about this and schedule it if you need to.
5. TIP: Put healthy relationships into practice: Healthy relationships enhance our lives in numerous ways. They also help our bodies heal quicker, increase longevity, lower blood pressure, give us a greater sense of purpose, and decrease stress levels.
- Create healthy boundaries, not those that stress you out.
- Schedule regular time with family and friends, even virtual, via Facetime or a phone call.
- Find and connect with like-minded people through meetup groups in your community or schedule a breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner with a friend.
- Spend quality time with a pet if you have one, or volunteer at an animal shelter.
- If you're spiritual, nurture your relationship with your higher power.
6. TIP: Put fun and laughter into practice: regular moments of joy and laughter are essential for avoiding or recovering from burnout, not to mention that the old adage is current—laughter is good for the soul. When we let our guard down to play, it reduces stress and boosts our mood, which contributes to healthier relationships, less anxiety, better brain function, a stronger immune system, and keeps you young.
- Take dance, music, or movement breaks while working
- Read, watch or listen to something that isn't work-related
- Schedule time for fun at least once a week
- Play with your kids, grandkids, or pets
- Spend time with people who make you laugh
- Engage in hobbies or other activities that bring you joy
- Celebrate the little and the big things in life
7. TIP: Put inspiration into practice: feeling inspired allows us to transcend our ordinary experiences and the limitations of our lives. It leads us to believe that almost anything is possible because it is. It gives our lives more meaning, provides a greater sense of purpose, and leads to increased productivity and creativity.
- Practice free writing, letting your thoughts flow freely and without judgment
- Create a vision board by pasting words and pictures that represent your goals and dreams
- Spend time in nature, visit a museum, or attend a virtual concert
- Connect with people who have interests and passions similar to yours
- Watch inspirational online videos, such as TED Talks
- Sign up for a virtual class you've always wanted to take, read more books, or travel
- Write your own book
8. TIP: Put a positive mindset into practice: it's said that the mind is our most powerful tool and that what we think about is what we become. That's why maintaining a positive mindset and being intentional about how we perceive potentially stressful situations can help combat burnout. Research shows that a positive attitude leads to increased immunity, greater reliance, a longer life span, and greater well-being.
- Pay attention to your thought.s
- Cultivate a daily gratitude practice
- Consume positive media
- Make sense of positive affirmations and visualizations
- Do things that inspire you
- See failing as part of learning and an opportunity for growth
- Spend time with people who bring you joy
When implementing self-care practices to avoid or recover from burnout, do so with intention. The key is to remove the things that exacerbate stress from your life and simultaneously invest your energy in the people and activities that bring you the greatest joy.
Remember: don't give your power away to stress—take it back!
Until next time, keep flying on your wings.
Catch me on my IG--Cafe au Lait on Tuesdays and Thursdays live with my special guests and your host, Dr. PGBHudson. Hope to see you there.