Preventing burnout protects your overall health and your career. However, if the way you work changed radically over the past year, your old defenses may not be enough. How do you know if you’re burned out?
Some of the most common signs include depression, irritability, and lack of motivation. You may feel tired and unable to control your circumstances, a condition author Wallace J. Nichols calls red mind. When this state is allowed to continue unaddressed over time, your physical health can be affected too, putting you at increased risk for heart conditions, diabetes and other medical conditions.
If you’re feeling down or your productivity has dropped, you can recover. Try these 15 strategies for bouncing back from (and preventing) burnout.
During Work Hours:
- Evaluate your expectations. Burnout is often caused by pushing yourself too hard for too long. Look at your to-do list and see what you can eliminate or delegate. Focus on your top priorities.
- Set goals. Working towards something you want to achieve provides instant inspiration. Break long term objectives down into daily and weekly targets, so you’ll keep building momentum.
- Limit distractions. Burnout makes it difficult to concentrate. Create quiet spaces where you can work at the office or at home. Turn off your phone and stay away from websites and apps where you tend to lose track of time.
- Phone a friend. Do you feel isolated or have more conflicts with your coworkers? Burnout can take a toll on your relationships. Participate in social activities at work. If you feel safe, talk with your boss or a trusted colleague about what you’re going through.
- Have fun. Brighten up your workday. Join the party planning committee. Recent research shows the best way to combat videoconference fatigue is to PLAY! Lighten up, and have some fun.
- Pace yourself. How many hours are you working a week? Research shows that excess overtime lowers your performance. You’re more likely to succeed with a 35-to-40-hour week.
- Take time off. It may help to get away from your routines for a while. If possible, use your vacation days to visit family and friends in another city. If you’re short on leave, you could try a spa day at home or check into a local hotel for the weekend.
- Reconnect with your mission. It’s easy to get so caught up in the details of daily life and lose sight of what matters most to you. Press pause, and take a moment to reflect on the big picture. Discover a deeper sense of meaning and purpose. Sometimes we need to remember what it’s all about. What’s on your horizon? What legacy would you most like to leave? Book time with a coach to explore these questions.
Outside of Work Hours:
- Address root causes. While there are many things you can do to cope with burnout temporarily, lasting change depends on resolving the source of your troubles. Maybe it’s an event at work, or maybe it has more to do with your disposition or personal life. Book time with a coach to explore these questions.
- Set boundaries. Remote work blurs the line between business and leisure activities. Try to keep office items out of your bedroom. Let your team know the hours when you’re unavailable, and honor their boundaries to model behavior.
- Sleep well. Go to bed on time, so you can wake up feeling refreshed. Stick to a consistent schedule, even on weekends and holiday. Creating an evening bedtime ritual can help you relax and prepare your mind to sleep.
- Work out. Physical activity relieves stress and gives you more energy. Design a balanced program of cardio exercise, strength training, and stretches. Good old-fashioned sweat can be cleansing and therapeutic for the mind as well.
- Find your Water. Research shows that exposure to blue mind – being on, in, under or near water – will not only interrupt the red mind state, but it can also renew, restore, and reinvigorate the deeper intrinsic motivation to thrive. Go for a swim, take a shower, listen to a fountain or waterfall, look at photos of your last trip to the lake. Join a session of Blue Health Coaching.
- Learn to relax. Manage daily tensions with stress-relieving activities. Listen to instrumental music or work on your hobbies. Develop a mindfulness practice.
- Consider counseling. If your burnout symptoms persist, you may benefit from working with a professional therapist. Some employers have extended mental health benefits as a result of COVID-19. If you’re on a limited budget, contact a community hotline to explore low-cost services.
Burnout can seem overwhelming, but you probably have more options than you think. Change your daily habits and ask others for help if you’re struggling. By taking intentional, constructive steps forward, you will be able to regain a healthy work-life integration and increase overall life satisfaction.