We have the tendency to overwhelm ourselves in everyday life – we work long hours, have different levels of responsibilities and can even set unrealistic goals that are near impossible. In my case, it all simmered to surface when I found myself working two jobs at a time, studying, and trying to take care of myself by over-exercising – it’s no wonder I was dealing with bouts of exhaustion and migraines. Burning the candle at both ends surely leaves you with nothing left to burn.
Our blessings often get clouded by sheer exhaustion and lack of energy, leaving us depleted, frustrated and plain sad – this, is the tell-tale sign that you are feeling the symptoms of burnout.
Signs and symptoms of burnout
Burnout is a term that is defined by many feelings, emotions and symptoms, like fatigue, high stress, impossible anxiety levels and even depression. Unsurprisingly, when you begin to feel like you’re burning out, everything in your life is affected – your career, social life, family and relationships as well as the image you have of yourself take a toll. All you want to do is sleep for a million years.
Burnout was originally referred to as an issue affecting medical health professionals, but today, with our high-speed lifestyles, it can be seen in almost every profession. The stages and signs of burning out should be quite obvious when they rear their ugly heads, however most of us tend to place blame on other things as a coping mechanism in order to keep going.
The good news is that there are simple and practical everyday habits you can adopt that can really make a difference to your mind and body and help you recover from, avoid and prevent burnout. Bonus? They become so ingrained in your routine that you will hopefully feel happier and less stressed for longer!
How to deal with and recover from work burnout naturally
1. Try to save your weekends and time off
If you are juggling multiple jobs or responsibilities, remind yourself that operating on one day off is literally impossible. That day ends up being everything but a day off. It is spent doing laundry, grocery shopping, exercising, doing life admin, and maybe overindulging with food and alcohol. This must stop.
The body and mind need time to switch off and relax, and one little day isn’t enough. If you can, and if it’s financially ok for you to do, try to reclaim your weekends and save one day for totally #jomo (joy of missing out). You can do whatever you like, for example going for a walk in the park, watching tv, reading or sleeping. Trust me, adding extra jobs, working overtime, or offering to cover coworker’s shifts may seem like a wonderful move for you in your career, but this is not sustainable over time, and what good will the extra money be? You’ll be too tired to do anything with it!
2. Take your full lunch break
Lunch breaks, doesn’t that sound so simple? Well, let me tell you when it’s NOT so simple: when you’re fresh out of graduate school and you feel like you need to cater to your every patient’s optimal schedule or they won’t see you, they’ll find someone else, and you’ll never make a dime. It would probably be better to just call your whole degree a wash, declare bankruptcy, and hide under a rock. If this sounds familiar to you, you are not alone. It is extremely difficult to advocate for yourself when you own your own business. More often than not, your needs get pushed behind those of your clients. Once again, this is a completely unsustainable lifestyle. You are not a better person if you put everyone else’s needs before yours, you are just a more tired person with a whole bunch of resentment.
When you don’t put yourself first, you automatically send a message to your body that you are not a priority – and that’s when the stages of burnout begin. You become moody, cranky, start snapping back at people, are reckless with food, all the while knocking your confidence down day by day.
So whether you work in a corporate office environment or work from home, try to make a healthy lunch every day, eat it without distractions and optimally take half an hour to get out of your place of work to change up the scenery a bit. If you’re worried that your superiors or deadlines will complain/suffer, make it point to declare that this is for the good of your mental health. You’ll thank yourself for it in the long run.
3. Put ‘me time’ first
Get it in your head that your self-care practice (no matter what you like to do whether it’s meditation or yoga or just walking outdoors for a bit every day) is just as important as a deadline or big meeting. Once you stick to a routine that includes time just for nurturing yourself, you’ll find that you actually enjoy going back to work and find the days much more bearable and rather pleasant.
By missing out on your quality time with yourself, you rob yourself of your importance and you will start to skimp in other areas of your life. This is simply crucial, you need to know that you are taking care of yourself, it gives you stability and confidence. So, start blocking off time in your day to do something that brings you joy. If you don’t start looking out for yourself, who will? It is nobody’s job other than your own.