‘Burnout’ is a word that comes up often in business, and in life. And there are so many strategies to deal with it or prevent it. What I have come to know from working with many executives over time, is that it really boils down to being mindful and listening to your body, rather than strict rules about what you can and can’t do or should and shouldn’t do.
When you have a lot going on, you can tend to become rather myopic and just focus on the task at hand. If this is ongoing, that’s when the typical signs and symptoms of ‘burnout’ can occur. It’s an expansion and a broadening of what you allow yourself to perceive that is required. That way, the body for example, doesn’t have to hit you with a metaphorical sledgehammer to get your attention. And, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cut down on your work load, or only work certain hours, etc. Everyone is individual and has unique needs. Some people thrive on having a lot to do.
If you haven’t been present with your body for a while, it may get take some getting used to listening to its requests. Just think of when you are really under the pump to meet a deadline. Do you notice if your body is hungry or tired or even if you need to go to the toilet? Or do you just push through? If you’re more like the latter, that’s when it may be useful to look at some of the common ‘burnout’ strategies and choose those that appeal to you, until you become more proficient at noticing exactly what’s required for you and your body in times of stress. Just keep in mind that they are not strict “you must do this, at this time” kind of things, but suggestions and guidelines for you to adapt to suit your situation and needs. Play with them. Find out what you enjoy and what works for you.
So let’s have a look at some of them.
Trick Yourself Into Becoming More Mindful
Something I like to do when I am really busy is set up a reminder on my smart phone to ask, “Do I require anything at the moment?” to go off regularly throughout the day. What could you do to regularly stop and take notice and then act accordingly?
Get Smart With Becoming More Active
Now, I’m not going to tell you that you have to walk a minimum of half an hour a day, etc. I’m not going to tell you to do anything. What do you know? When you’re busy with work deadlines, are you stuck at a desk all day? The body likes to move. That doesn’t have to mean that you go to the gym daily, when you really don’t have the time with a pressing deadline looming over your head. It may mean that every time you remember, you stand up and walk around the office, go get a drink, etc. Maybe until you are more familiar with becoming mindful of your needs you could come up with active habits like standing up every time you’re on the phone. What else is possible for you? What will work for you?
What Can You Do To Chillax?
A lot of people will tell you to relax more, and relaxation does have a lot of health and wellbeing benefits, but that doesn’t mean you have to go out and meditate or do yoga, or even get a solid 8 hours sleep every night. Every person’s body is different. Again, keeping in mind the underlying premise of relaxation — that is, the change of pace, the sense of peace and the nurturing of you, what will work for you?
I like to use my breath to calm and center me whenever I notice that I am getting ‘frazzled’; just three deep breaths from the ground, through my feet up to my head and back down into the ground again is enough for me to become mindful again, and to perceive and receive everything that is going on around me again, which is essential for my best work.
Make Yourself A Priority
A good friend of mine, Dr Dain Heer, says that everyone would do well to spend one hour a day, and one day a week entirely for themselves, doing what you like to do, nurturing yourself, etc. If this sort of time commitment doesn’t work for you, how can you change it to suit? The underlying premise is that you are important. If you schedule time for yourself and make this a priority, no matter what the length of that time is, you are acknowledging your importance. And, what you’ll find is, whatever you make a priority and put first, is that which expands and grows. That means, if you put getting your work done first all the time, your work load grows. Put time for yourself first, even if you can only spare 10 minutes or a half hour in the beginning, then time for yourself grows.
Neutralize Your Point of View
If you think you are under the pump and stressed, etc., guess what? Your thoughts create your reality so, voila, you experience all the signs and symptoms of stress and burnout. Every time you catch yourself thinking thoughts that may add to your ‘stress’, such as, “I’ll never get this done in time”, “I have so much to do”, etc., stop and say “Interesting point of view I have this point of view”. It just keeps everything neutral and doesn’t add to whatever is going on in your life. Use it everywhere for everything.
Originally published at medium.com