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Being just 26, I’ve already experienced burnout at least 3 times during my 3.5 years-long career as an employee. A complete and devastating burnout was the reason why I decided to take a break from any wage labor. I thought that when I finally do what I like and there’s no boss or supervisor with stupid requests and decisions, I won’t experience a burnout ever again. Image how surprised I was when I started feeling burnt out working on my own website. It happened after I decided that I would post a new article every other day and create a lot of content for social media. Those articles squeezed the life out of me, I swear! I had to take a break from working on my website for a week. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
- Discontent with one’s work or lifestyle, disappointment
- Feeling exhausted
- Constant stress
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Reduced productivity and creativity
- Loss of motivation
- Bitterness and resentment, feeling unappreciated
- Feeling hopeless and helpless
- Feeling depressed
- Weak immune system
- Changed sleeping habits
- Changed eating habits
Burnout is commonly associated with work. However, a person can also feel burnt out as a result of coping with overwhelming responsibilities out of work. For example, caring for a child or looking after an ill person.
When a person is overloaded with stress and doesn’t know how to relieve it or doesn’t have the time to relieve it properly, burnout happens. People who experience a burnout often feel discontent with their job or even their lifestyle. They may also feel unappreciated. It leads to bitterness and resentment towards the employer, the management, or the family. Such hard feelings reduce both productivity and creativity and make the person suffering from burnout lose motivation. Such people feel disappointed with their job. It’s difficult to remain happy outside the office if you know that things aren’t going well inside it. One may start feeling helpless and hopeless. As a result, unaddressed burnout can lead to depression.
Prolonged stress and negative emotions weaken the immune system, mess up hormones, cause digestive problems, increase blood pressure, blood sugar, and can lead to heart disease. A weakened immune system can’t resist viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites properly which leads to problems with health, illnesses. Headaches as a result of constant stress and a heavy workload are also common. Changed sleeping and eating habits resulting from stress contribute to further undermining your health.
The best way is to prevent burnout. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance (or rather a life-work balance though) and applying effective stress-relief techniques can help with it. See my articles on work-life balance here and stress relief here.
However, you wouldn’t probably look for tips on how to deal with burnout if you didn’t have it. So, let’s move on to what is likely to be more relevant at the moment, burnout recovery.
How to recover from burnout
Burnout recovery is not easy because burnout implies that you’ve accumulated a lot of negative emotions you’re unable to cope with anymore. To recover from burnout one needs to learn self-care.
Take days off work
No matter how many tasks you must complete, no matter how many responsibilities you have at the moment, put yourself and your wellbeing first. Take days off work and don’t check work-related messages and emails. Let yourself relieve stress and enjoy life without work, without rushing, completing, surpassing, achieving, etc.
Consider changing your job
This point is especially relevant to those whose burnout was caused by constant interaction with a toxic boss or toxic colleagues. If your boss squeezes the life out of you, remember that no job is worth your health. Put your mental health first if you want to continue your career.
Another case when considering changing your job is relevant is when you hate your job. Sometimes people just lack confidence that they’ll be able to get a better job which is why they spend their whole lives doing something that annoys them. The annoyance then often translates into their personal life. Of course a person who hates their job can’t feel content with life, can’t be fulfilled.
Learn to say no
Set boundaries. Don’t let your colleagues put their responsibilities on you. Agree to help your colleagues with their responsibilities only if you have enough energy and you won’t need to sacrifice your free time or your health (including mental health) for it.
Leave work at work
Don’t check work-relateed messages, notifications, and emails after work. Give yourself time to relax and recharge. When a workday ends, all time fully belongs to you. Don’t let work-related problems hover above your head in your free time.
Spend your free time in nature
Enjoy the beauty and peace of nature. Travel or go to beautiful places to recharge. Don’t rush through life. Enjoy every second of your free time in nature, every bit of its beauty.
Spend your free time with family, your pet, or friends
Have you ever felt how meaningless and unimportant your job, your boss, the company you work for, the time you spend at work are compared to the quality of time you spend with someone you want to spend your time with?
Spend your free time doing what gives you most joy
As said before, your time after work belongs to you. You don’t have to do extra tasks, to help your colleagues, to sacrifice your free time because your boss asked you to, you don’t have to feel guilty. Go for a walk, go shopping, play with your dog, decorate your space, organize a barbeque or a beautiful dinner, meditate, read an interesting book, take a course, learn something new. Life has so many things to offer, so many angles besides work! Move your focus from whatever is bothering you at work to something pleasant.
You can live a stress-free life. Train the mind to feel contentment, peace and joy—even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Best-selling author and long-time Buddhist meditation teacher Lodro Rinzler shows us how to work with the mind so that we don’t hold ourselves in a state of stress and learn to relax into and appreciate our world once more.
Practical steps anyone can take every day to live a less anxious, more meaningful life. How to stop overthinking, overcome negative states of mind, stop comparing yourself to others, how to find your purpose, how to be happy and much more.
Don’t take up more responsibilities than you can handle
Some people believe that it’s only possible to become wealthy if you work hard which is why they take up more and more responsibilities at work and try to prove to others and to themselves that they deserve a pay rise. But people are not superheroes and everyone has their limit. Some people have more energy, others have less energy. Moreover, a busy work schedule does not guarantee success and wealth. Work smarter not harder! Save some energy for post-work activities. Save time for rest. Don’t take up more responsibilities than you can handle.
If there is a person you can trust, share your emotions with him or her. Just don’t become a constant complainer! Seek support. Ideally, this person should know how to cheer you up or what to say to instill confidence in you when you lack it. Avoid people who often bring you down.
Take up a hobby or do something new
Doing something you’ve never done before can help you unwind. Anything not work-related would do. It can be even something as easy as coloring as long as it helps you not to think about work, responsibilities, deadlines, pressure, etc.
Unleash your inner artist as you color this therapeutic antistress coloring book with inspirational and motivational phrases.
Let yourself just do nothing sometimes
Nowadays people seem to be obsessed with the idea of being productive. While productivity may be helpful at work, it is not always helpful off work. Why is it not helpful? The answer is because human beings are not robots. You may have seen numerous success stories on TV, in media, in films. It’s true that some people have more energy, some have enormous motivation that keeps driving them, some people are very focused and organized and that’s how they have achieved success. But you don’t have to keep up or compete with them to become successful. Success does not mean you must have a busy schedule, as I said before. And whether you’ll manage to complete all tasks and take your duvet to the cleaner’s today after work before the cleaner’s closed or not won’t make much difference.
When your workday is over, give yourself time to relax. Let yourself just do nothing if you don’t feel like doing anything. Stop rushing and let yourself be in the moment.
This miniature Zen Sand Garden, suitable for home or office, can be put on a desk or a coffee table. The Zen Garden is perfect for stress relief and meditation. The set includes a 64-page meditation booklet with useful instructions and suggestions for shaping the garden.
Maintain a healthy sleep schedule
Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep. You probably know that people are affected by circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are changes happening in our bodies throughout the day depending on the time. They regulate our sleep-wake cycle releasing certain hormones at certain time throughout the day. This is why we feel so bad and sleepy at night and energetic during the day. A disrupted sleep-wake cycle (due to shift work, irregular sleep schedule, jet lag, etc.) messes everything up in the body and can lead to metabolic disorders, blood pressure problems, digestion problems, etc. If the irregular sleep schedule continues for years, a person becomes prone to developing diabetes, heart disease, anxiety and depression, etc.
To maintain a healthy sleep schedule, go to bed and wake up around the same time every day; make lights in the room where you are less bright in the evening as melatonin (a hormone that makes us sleepy) is produced when its dark; maintain cool temperature in the bedroom before sleep otherwise it may be difficult for you to fall asleep; try not to have naps during the day; avoid caffeine, alcohol, tobacco in the evening; eat your dinner 2 hours before sleep and don’t overeat; don’t use your phone before sleep; try not to use any screens an hour before sleep.1
Melatonin supplements can be used for short-term treatment of insomnia, jet lag, delayed sleep-wake phase sleep disorder. As this is a hormone naturally produced in human body, people are not recommended to take this supplement for a long period of time. Also, a person should not drive a vehicle or operate equipment within 5 hours after taking melatonin.
Melatonin can help maintain a healthy sleep schedule short-term.
Put your mind at ease with the soothing aroma and bright-sweet notes of this roll-on. It improves sleep, soothes anxiety and stress, promotes relaxation and meditation.
This 100% natural herbal tea supports a good night’s sleep.
A healthy sleep schedule also means enough sleep. People who don’t sleep enough (enough means 7-8 hours every day) have problems with memory and learning, mood (and are more likely to suffer from anxiety, panic attacks and depression), energy, high blood pressure, immune system, weight, blood sugar, etc.
Beware of the social jet lag – this is a term for the delay in your usual sleep schedule when you go to bed later on Friday and Saturday (because you stayed up late to socialize) and wake up later too. Scientists emphasize the importance of a regular sleep schedule because every hour of shifted sleep leads to an increased risk of developing heart disease by 11% and depression as well as increased chances to feel tired and sleepy.2
Fit in regular exercise in your schedule. Exercise releases endorphins; acts as a meditation; improves mood: helps to fight anxiety and depression in particular; improves overall health including the immune system, digestive system, cardiovascular system. Choose a physical activity you enjoy the most. Start with easy exercises, there is no need to challenge yourself and set records. Remember that you don’t have to compete with other people who have been exercising for years and/or with people who show their training sessions on social media.
Try breathing exercises
Breathing exercises are extremely helpful to manage daily stress. Most of us remember about breathing exercises when a stressful situation occurs and we have to ease anxiety. But doing breathing exercises on a daily basis irrespective of your stress level at the moment can contribute to your overall health. Download a breathing app for your phone.
Now you know how to recover from burnout. Understanding which activities help you relieve stress is key to burnout recovery. For some people it’s exercising in the gym and no socializing, for some it’s socializing alone, for some it’s time spend in nature, etc. find what works best for you.
In case your feel resentful towards your management, family, etc., see my article How to Let Go of Resentment.
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