In my last blog post, I talked about the 5 Stages of Burnout and what they look like. This week I will be giving you the tips and tricks to prevent burnout from happening and keep your work (and life) exciting!
The definition of burnout is “physical or mental collapse by overwork or stress”. Some symptoms include low energy, low productivity, exhaustion, detachment from personal relationships, and generally feeling unmotivated.
I totally have felt burnt out by different jobs or things I have committed to in the past. That’s why I wanted to dive deep into each stage of Burnout so we can prepare and prevent it from running us into the ground. First, here are my Top 5 Tips to Prevent Burnout.
Top 5 Tips to Prevent Burnout
1. Schedule Self-Care. We put so many to-do’s on our calendar. Are your health and well-being included in yours? I am intentional with Self-Care Sundays, which has become my “upkeep” day! Scheduling it helps me get more things done during the week so I can have Sundays to relax.
2. Give yourself permission to rest. You are just one person! Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that perfection isn’t the goal, joy is! The laundry will still be there tomorrow, give yourself permission to rest when you really need a time-out.
3. Ask for help. You shouldn’t be juggling everything on your own. Often times, the pressure of “if you want it done right, do it yourself” keeps too many things on our plate. Then we end up burnt out, stressed, and inside we are angry that no one offered to help us. What things can you let go of control over and ask someone for help? Check out my podcast episode 17: How to Ask for Help for an in-depth conversation on the topic.
4.Stop climbing the success ladder. It is easy to fall into a pattern of going after the next big thing. Graduate, college, diploma, job, get married, nice car, have kids, get promoted, retire. Pause and think of what you are grateful for right now and feel thankful for your current situation. Stress of the future often comes from us not sitting in our current happiness. Prevent “I’ll be happy when…” syndrome by starting a gratitude journaling practice.
5. Find peace. What do you love about where you live? Who your friends are? Your Family? You? Appreciate the gifts around you. Give yourself credit for how far you have come and all of your accomplishments. You are worth every bit of happiness in the world.
Stage 1: The Honeymoon Phase
In stage one, your new adventure (new job, new relationship, new baby, a new pet, fill in the blank) is giving you exciting stress that you enjoy. You are learning something new and this gives you joy, so it doesn’t feel like work.
It is important to build good habits in this stage to prevent burnout. Do what you can to automate your work and create a routine. For example, if it is a new pet or baby, get them on a meal routine that works with your schedule. Maybe you decide to have dog food shipped automatically each month so you are not carrying 50 lbs of dog food around each time you have to refill.
If you are starting a new job, your new routine might include grocery shopping and meal prep on Sundays so you have healthy lunches at work and dinner becomes a breeze when you are home.
Create some sort of routine with your new adventure that can become a habit. Habits help free up your brain from extra decision making, which could potentially save you a ton of stress in the long run!
Stage 2 Burnout: Onset of Stress
In this stage, you become aware of more difficult days as the exciting stress wears off. Keeping up with your routine can help reduce the onset of stress. I challenge you in this stage to figure out what it is about your new adventure that you truly enjoy.
For example, if you are in a new relationship, figure out what your love language is and do the same with your partner. This helps you enjoy each other more and love each other at a deeper level in the long run. You can take this fun quiz here at Love Language Quiz.
In this stage, it is important to keep the excitement alive. Passively going through your new adventure without learning and growing through it will leave you burned out, so find the fun in what you are doing to keep it light and exciting.
Stage 3: Chronic Stress
In stage 3, chronic stress starts to wear on your body and mind. Your adventure isn’t so “new” anymore and the tasks might start to feel like a chore.
In this phase, it is important to schedule intentional time-outs from your adventure. Book a babysitter once a month, find someone who would love to watch your doggo for the day, have a girls’ night out to enjoy yourself or plan your own solo self-care day. Taking time away for yourself isn’t selfish, it’s necessary! It helps balance out all the work that you do so you can enjoy both.
Take that thing that you enjoy about your adventure and make sure to highlight it throughout this stage!
Stage 4: Burnout
This is the stage we most often think of when we use the term “burnout”. We are physically or mentally wiped and continuing as is puts our health and happiness in jeopardy.
If you have reached this stage, take inventory of how your body and mind feel. Your body might feel completely fatigued, sore, and drained of energy. Your mind might have that constant dull headache or you may have mental fatigue like forgetfulness, a depressed or anxious state, or you might have a short fuse and easily get angry with the people around you.
Take inventory of what signs you have been ignoring so you can recognize them for the future. At this point, if you are seriously ill, please consider visiting a doctor, massage therapist, dietitian, or a professional who can help you improve your lifestyle to get you back on track to health.
Stage 5: Chronic Burnout
At this point, your burnout symptoms have become a way of life and you have adapted around them. Again, take inventory of how you feel. If you can’t remember the last time you took a break, or you are go-go-going even on your “days off” you may be in Chronic Burnout.
Your homework assignment is to R. E. L. A. X. Yep, it’s time to grab a good book, power down your electronics, find a distraction-free space and reset yourself for a minimum of one hour a day. Our brains crave distraction. We get a dopamine hit every time we get a bit of information off of Instagram, and then we jump to Facebook to get another, and then we open email to feel accomplished, and this loop of distraction overload continues to wear us down until our brain is mush with a capital ‘M’.
If you are someone who’s body is stiff as a board from constant muscle work, I highly recommend checking out Yoga with Adriene for judgment-free yoga you can do in your own bedroom. She has a wide range of videos for any level you are at, with 500+ videos. Her 5.5 million followers tell you that she has something worth checking out and sticking around for.
Taking care of yourself is your top priority. It isn’t something optional that comes with this life. If you want to enjoy the gifts you are working for, then your self-care has to be #1 on your to-do list each day. Your health and well-being are the foundation for the rest of your life, including your finances, relationships, and self-worth. It’s a no-brainer why the total medical costs in America hit a new record last year at $3.4 trillion, according to the federal government.
We are told that our worth comes from the money we make, the clothes we wear, the car that we drive. It isn’t seen as noble to take rest days, it is seen as weak. But what I see as weak is having a foundation built of crappy, cheap meals, lack of physical activity, and physical & mental fatigue, instead of one that is solidly built on routine, getting enough sleep, eating vegetables, and resting your body and mind.
If you are someone who thinks your body will always be as resilient as it is with your health just flapping behind you as a last thought, think again. If you are feeling any of the burnout symptoms above, this is your body speaking its language in the form of a cry for help. Care for it and love it because it is the one body that you have. You may get to change your job, your house, your friends, your car, but your body is your home for life. It can either be a life-sentence if you neglect to care for it, or it could be one of your greatest sources of joy. You get to decide what your foundation is built on.