One of the more harmful trends over the last decade has been the business world’s obsession with hustle. Influencers are all over social media touting the merits of hustling, as if hustling was more important than actually producing results.
Unsurprisingly, a new trend is taking shape: burnout. Data is suggesting that more than 50% of all workers feel burnt out. Data also shows that Americans are the most overworked in the developed world. This is not a formula for sustainable well-being or enjoying a sense of fulfillment from life and work.
Luckily, burnout does not happen overnight, and the best way to address it is to prevent it from being a problem in the first place. There are a number of important things you can do that mitigate the risk of burnout. Here are four important ways you can avoid burnout.
It’s likely no surprise to see meditation at the top of this list. In my experience, meditation was a life-changing practice that helped me resolve health problems, lower my anxiety and heal my depression in my mid-twenties.
As an on-going practice, meditation helps me:
- Maintain a lower baseline for stress and anxiety.
- Calm my nervous system.
- Feel a deeper connection to myself and what I want to create.
- Maintain a better sense of what changes are showing up in my life, and how I can respond.
Adding a meditation practice to your routine is easier than most people think. A quick three minute meditation in between meetings can lower your stress response and help you feel more calm in the next meeting. A fifteen minute session at the end of your day can help ground you back into your body while reducing the stress from the day. A thirty minute meditation in the morning can provide you with a foundation of clarity, calm and connection that lasts the entire day.
Add more self-care to your routine
The easy part about self-care is coming up with good options (massage, baths, time in nature, etc). The hard part is being aware of when you need it.
When hours turn into days, and days turn into weeks, it’s easy to lose sight of your physical and emotional needs. You can tell yourself that relief is on the other side of a deadline, yet we all know there is another deadline just around the corner.
The most effective way to ensure you get the self-care you need is to schedule it. Put the monthly massage you need on the calendar, schedule a weekly hike and block an hour for a relaxing bath each week. Even scheduling a “quiet moment” each day can help you rest and restore your energy.
Resist the temptation to reschedule these important appointments with yourself. The key is to do these things before you need them, and scheduling them ahead of time helps you do that.
Increase your self-awareness
Self-awareness is the key to good self-care (described in number three). You need to be aware that your body and mind both need rest, and that you need a break. Yet the hustle-lifestyle disconnects us from ourselves.
The remedy is to use the power of the “check-in.” The “check-in” is a tool I’ve learned while participating in, and leading, men’s emotional work. For thirty seconds, I close my eyes and take inventory on how my body and mind feels on a physical level, and then I repeat the process to examine how I feel on an emotional level.
This process helps me notice if my body is tight, if I’m feeling anxious or if I have any other needs that are not being addressed. I do it every day, and it helps me know when I need a bath, when I need to go to bed early or when I need to get outdoors for a hike.
Understand that burnout is not about passion
Many people confuse burnout with passion, motivation or drive. They believe that if they find a job they are passionate about, or find a source of deeper motivation, they wouldn’t experience burnout. The issue with this logic is that burnout is not something you can power through.
In my experience, my burnout was not caused a lack of passion or motivation. I was deeply motivated to make my startup a success and I loved being an entrepreneur.
What I didn’t possess were the habits or practices described above. I didn’t have the self-awareness to slow down and I didn’t have the self-love to enforce healthy boundaries.
The trap is believing that every moment is life or death, that every second spent not working is wasted, and that the results are on the other side of another 18 hour work day.
The one big lesson I’ve learned about hustling and burnout is that you can’t be effective when you can’t work. Burnout can lead to serious health risks, which can render you useless.
It’s far more efficient to honor your drive for success by creating a routine that keeps your body and mind healthy on a sustainable level. You’ll work more effectively and you’ll enjoy a deeper sense of well-being along the way.