We’ve all been there: feeling more exhausted in the mornings, lacking the energy to complete daily tasks and losing the motivation to do what we love. Burnout is common among many adults, and has only heightened in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shared Jennifer Moss of Forbes Magazine, “Today’s level of burnout is the result of an existing problem made exponentially worse. Yet despite how massive the problem is, it’s never too late to fix it. Combating burnout may feel like an overwhelming and herculean task, especially after months of emotional fatigue, but if you’re armed with the right tools, it can be easier than you might think.”
If you’re starting to feel the strain of burnout and want to make a change, here are eight key ways to help you evaluate how you’re feeling and combat negative emotions and experiences:
1. Identify your core stressors.
First, it’s important that you get to the root of the problem. Have you ever had a really stressful day, and then later got into a meaningless argument with your friend, roommate or partner? It wasn’t these people in your life that made you mad, but rather that you had just been through a rough workday—those emotions carried over and affected separate aspects of your life.
Think about what’s exhausting you: whether it’s an unmanageable schedule at work, internal pressures that you’ve put on yourself, carrying a financial burden or anything in between, try to separate small frustrations from core issues. When you identify the main things that are causing burnout, you can start focusing on solutions, instead of feeling buried or overwhelmed.
2. Reduce exposure to the stressors you can control.
Remember to focus on what you can control. For example, if one of your core stressors that’s causing burnout is a full calendar with too many commitments, you can start by eliminating one or two items from your to-do list.
In this case, addressing your burnout might look like delegating more of your responsibilities to family members or colleagues to reduce your time working. While we can’t always control what’s around us, by focusing on what we can change, we find ways to make progress!
3. Communicate your needs.
Have you been feeling this way for a while? Tell somebody! All too often we let ourselves drown in work, home or social life without letting the people around us offer solutions.
Especially when it’s time to bring up our concerns at work, it’s easy to stop ourselves from saying something out of fear. Will your boss think you’re being negative? Will they see your side? In these situations, it all comes down to being prepared and planning ahead of time. Here are some basic tips to help you plan for the conversation:
• Say it at the right time: Don’t try and have the conversation in passing or during a stressful meeting. Schedule a specific time when you can sit down to have a focused conversation.
• Be specific: It can be easy to ramble when we’re nervous, but try to be as specific as possible. This might mean approaching your concerns from an objective perspective, even if burnout is an emotional experience.
• Come prepared with solutions: Give some thought to what’s causing you burnout. How could you improve communication? Where are you feeling overwhelmed? It’s likely the person you’re having the conversation with will look to you for a couple of ideas.
• Get support as needed: It’s okay to bring another person into the conversation, if they’re comfortable with it. Sometimes we need backup!
4. Prioritize self-care (and not just face masks).
It’s no secret that a night of bath bombs and candles can feel great, and we all need a night-in like that to wind down. However, self-care is more than just a quick, 15-minute spa experience.
Often, the best self-care is actually a combination of self-reflection and action (with relaxation thrown in). Like we mentioned earlier, take some time to examine what’s causing your burnout. How have you been feeling? What’s holding you back? Self-care can look like following through with the plans you’ve made and creating a pathway back to balance (and hey, you can still end the night with some good skin care).
5. Block out time to decompress and disrupt your routine.
If you’re caught in the middle of chaos, sometimes you need to switch up your daily patterns. This can mean carving out time to read a good book, regrouping after a long day, penciling in some meditation or even trying something new! Disrupting your routine can help you refocus or even help you find new solutions! Not sure what to try? Consider investing in a new hobby; especially in 2020, a lot of new video gamers took to the sticks to help improve their mood.
A recent survey even showed that 73 percent of respondents cited video games as a new tool to manage anxiety and stress. Find something new to test out and block it out on your schedule. The time away from your regular routine will help you reevaluate your priorities!
6. Focus on making connections.
If you’re struggling with burnout, it’s better not to be alone. The connections you form with others can be a benefit and support to you. If you’re not able to meet up with people IRL, consider ways to connect virtually with friends. Keep in mind, you can always ask for advice or help, but it doesn’t have to be about how you’re feeling!
Sometimes the good company and a good time can help lessen the overwhelming emotions you had throughout the day. Consider hosting an online game night with friends or planning a group video call. The more you connect with others, the less likely you are to feel alone in your struggle.
7. Eliminate the extra (and don’t feel bad for scaling back).
Doing nothing isn’t always a bad thing, and if you’re feeling burnt out, you shouldn’t feel bad for scaling back the excess or unnecessary in your life.
Shared Peter Bregman in his book, Four Seconds: All the Time You Need to Stop Counter-Productive Habits and Get the Results you Want: “My best ideas come to me when I am unproductive. When I’m running or showering or sitting, or doing nothing, or waiting for someone. When I am lying in bed as my mind wanders before falling asleep. These ‘wasted’ moments, moments not filled with anything in particular, are vital. They are the moments in which we, often unconsciously, organize our minds, make sense of our lives, and connect the dots. They’re the moments in which we talk to ourselves. And listen.”
Competing with burnout can feel difficult, but the more you take time to pause and address how you’re feeling, the more you can build a plan to overcome it.