There is a lot to do in order to prevent burnout from exploding. But if you are already burned out, you really passed the limits and now you need to face the situation and make some choices for the best.
I am Italian, and in Italy we have this saying: “The omelet is made!” Meaning you cannot have your eggs back, once they are broken and cooked. Burnout is more or less like an omelet: you passed your limits, and you are not able to do your job like you did before. It may take some weeks, some months or more: what is certain, you must take the time to stop and rest, and figure out what happened and how the situation needs to change.
After my personal experience, and after taking care of other professionals’ cases as a career coach, I made out these 6 simple steps to help you face and deal with work burnout and come back thriving again.
If you are experiencing burnout, it may be the first time you realize your limits and you need to face difficult health and psychological conditions. Probably, it has been a long time since you stopped listening to your body’s need to rest, and you have been overworking and stressing too much for job-related worries.
Burnout is a physical and mental condition of suffering: it is an alarm ringing, a bomb exploding. Burnout is your body’s defence to prevent you from going on with the same rhythm.
The first step you should take to deal with burnout is to get to know what it is. Therefore, my suggestion is to read as much as possible, and be informed. Listen to other professionals who have shared their experiences. Talk with doctors, psychotherapists and experts who can explain you what burnout is. In this way, you will know what to expect and you will not feel alone living this situation.
After understanding, the second step is the most difficult to take: acceptance.
Why me? I am invincible. I am the best manager of my company. I can travel for work all year round and still never be tired. Most of all: I have a lot of work to do… I cannot stay at home and just rest for two weeks!
Burnout is not your fault. It’s not your company’s fault. It’s not a failure. It’s a life experience and it just happens. You may have put too much effort in developing your career, and you may have forgotten listening to your body’s need to rest and take pauses. Your work environment may be too tough for you. There may be a lot of causes at the basis of developing burnout. But it’s too late to start thinking and analyzing what went wrong. There will be time to think about what has happened and identify the triggers. For the moment, focus on accepting and keep it simple.
3. Rest and take care of yourself (for once!)
Burnout happens when you do not listen to your body’s needs and signals for a long time. You keep doing, doing and doing. You do not take enough rest. Now, it’s time to start taking good care of yourself again. Sleep, walk in the nature, spend time outside in the sunshine. Just do nothing for some hours: you do not have to be always productive!
Learn how to listen to your body: are you tired? Are you hungry? Do you need some fresh air? Pretend to be your own mother: treat yourself like you woukd treat your ill baby child. Take good care of yourself, and you will slowly start feeling better.
Burnout can be proving for your mental health: consider asking a psychiatric advice if you are not feeling good. There is nothing bad in admitting your brain needs some help to overcome a period of mental exhaustion.
4. Find a side interest
This time may be a bit challeging for your self-esteem: if before burning out you were a wonderwoman or a superman, now you are at home and resting. You may feel down and unproductive.
Thus, in order to keep your brain active and concentrated on something positive, a good suggestion is for you to find a side interest. Is there something you always wanted to do, but you did not have time? Do you like painting, decoupage, playing an instrument? Do you like cooking? Finding some creative hobby will help you spend your days in a positive mood, and will distract your attention from negative and useless thoughts.
5. Find your new way of working
Only when you finally start feeling better and relieved, you can begin to think of working again. This time, you should really try to identify the causes and triggers that were at the basis of your breakdown. You need to be clear with yourself and understand what aspects of your previous job were making it difficult for you to stand.
You must be very careful in finding a new way of working: it must be respectful of your limits and necessities. Now you know yourself better, there is no risk of falling again into the same old trap of overworking without listening to your inner self.
Find your new way of working: a new job? A different role? The same old job and old role but with a new mindset? The decision is up to you: decide for the best and take your own needs into account.
6. Balance yourself every day (and this time…for ever!)
Starting to work again is an important step. But, it’s not the end!
Remember: balancing yourself everyday must become your new routine.
From now on, you have to defend your new personal and work equilibrium in front of anything. Take care and ask yourself: is this too much for me to handle?
Plan your resting time with the same accuracy you use to plan your daily work. Maintaining your balance is a life-long job and it repays you with personal energy and work-life happyness.