Lately, burnout has become a common occurrence among office workers and students alike. Societal and economic may pressure you to push yourself. Suddenly, you find that you’ve stretched yourself too thin, hoping to meet the demands and responsibilities you have to do. As a result, you end up feeling overworked and overwhelmed.
Burnout zaps your energy and your motivation, causing you to inevitably dig yourself into a cycle of not doing work and feeling stressed about not doing work. Burnout happens gradually, so you need to recognize the signs early.
Burnout does not disappear on its own. It can develop and worsen into chronic stress, which can cause a potpourri of other mental and physical health issues like physical and emotional exhaustion, emotional detachment, cynicism, and feeling unaccomplished.
- Rest to re-set
The first and somewhat obvious step is to rest. However, to ensure that you rest and not take a working vacation, you need to acknowledge your tiredness. I know it sounds silly. But, sometimes we understand things intellectually and fail to grasp what it means. So, first, listen to your body. Acknowledge what it is telling you– it’s telling you that you are tired.
With that in mind, do things that will give you rest. Read a book, stare at the clouds, or do whatever allows your body and mind to heal. Respect your rest time. Do not start working on a project, get involved in something that will bring you stress, or do work. Resting is necessary to improve brain function and cognition.
- Take time off
Before heading off for some R&R, reach out to your boss or your teacher to ask for some time off. In an ideal world, you would be able to go on vacation without having to go through bureaucratic procedures. But, that is usually not the case. So, please make sure you reach out to your boss or teacher before leaving. When you go speak to them, make sure you have a plan and keep an open mind. The chances that your boss or professor will allow you to take a month off are low, so be willing to compromise.
- Find your passion
We are more than our jobs. Each of us has personal goals, hobbies, and passions. However, as we get older, we tend to forget about who we are as people and start defining ourselves based on the job we have or what we do. But, again, you are more than your job. I am more than my job. Remember that when you are relaxing. Doing so can help you find why you do what you. It can help you find your passion for things again.
- Set boundaries
When you get back from your break, set up some boundaries. These boundaries protect you from burning yourself out again. While this change may be a bit shocking to your co-workers, especially if they are used to having you do most of the work, but it’s not your problem. Make sure that your needs as an employee as heard.
For those who are at school, you may take a different approach since you can’t protest against the syllabus your professor has created. However, set up boundaries for yourself. Maybe that means taking only four classes a semester or dropping out of a social club. The point is to make your schedule less hectic and stressful. The change of pace may feel a bit strange, but lean into it and appreciate it.
We usually reserve this verb for people in leadership positions, but I think it is time we practice it in our daily lives–regardless of position. However, I am not saying to delegate everything to others to absolve yourself of any responsibility or accountability. No. Delegate when 1. you know someone else can do a better job and 2. when it is absolutely necessary. When you delegate something to another, you are entrusting them that task, so be wise in who you choose to delegate things to.
Most of the time, we like to shoulder all of the responsibility ourselves. But, in doing this, we rob someone else of the chance to learn and grow.
There are ways to delegate in the workplace and at school. For example, if your roommate said that she will clean her side of the room, let her do it. If your co-worker said they were going to handle something, let them do it.
- Be compassionate
It is often our high self-perception and self-demand that lands us in a burned-out state. You may feel like you are capable and have everything under control. But, it’s okay to not have everything under control. You just need to learn when to step back and take things slow.
To do this, you must have more compassion for yourself because you will be tempted to jump back and start working. But, you need to love and put yourself first to walk away.
Lastly, one of the best ways to recover from burnout is to breathe. I know. Simple, right? The reason that this point is on the list is that many of us have forgotten how to breathe. I’m not talking about the shallow breaths that you barely notice yourself taking while you work. While technically considered breathing, it’s not a breathe that helps you. Breathing is incredibly important because it carries oxygen to all of your organs and without oxygen your organs die.
But, breathing also calms you down. Many of us, when tired or stress fall into a stressed breathing pattern– each breathe is shallow and barely fills our lungs.
So, how do you fix your breathing? There are many techniques that have been used and developed over time. The most common one is box breathing where you breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4, breath out for 4 seconds, and hold for 4 seconds. There is also alternate nostril breathing where you breathe in through one nostril and let the air out from another. Usually, once you let out the breathe you restart from that same nostril.
Additionally, there are many apps that can help you to breathe better and manage your stress.
Regardless of whether you are a student or an employee, please make sure you rest. Pay attention to the signs of burnout and employ these tips to help you recover. Also, do not expect to recover overnight. Give yourself time. If you need more help, please reach out to a licensed professional.
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Ho, L. (2020, November 27). How to recover from burnout quickly and feel better. Lifehack. Retrieved October 11, 2021, from https://www.lifehack.org/871879/how-to-recover-from-burnout.
Raypole, C. (2020, March 30). Dealing with burnout? these tips and strategies may help. Healthline. Retrieved October 11, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/burnout-recovery#boundaries.
Thorne, E. R. (2019, December 2). Burned out in college? here’s how you can recover. The American Institute of Stress. Retrieved October 11, 2021, from https://www.stress.org/burned-out-in-college-heres-how-you-can-recover.
Weronika, M. (2020, December 24). Academic burnout: How to recover from it. Graduate Coach. Retrieved October 11, 2021, from https://graduatecoach.co.uk/academic-burnout/.