Now more than ever we are suffering all levels of burnout, and without our usual outlets to decompress and find some reprieve it seems harder than ever to navigate. The hour escape to a virtual yoga or workout class, a quick meditation whenever you can find the time is just not working as it should. The format is likely different, doing everything in the four walls of your own home has become increasingly mundane, and yes, we are all burnt out by screen time. Working through burnout is hard enough but compound this with less connection throughout this pandemic and burnout is incredibly hard to move through.
As someone who survived a 2 year burnout. One where I never took time off work and just kept moving through it. I can attest to how hard it is to deal with anything while you’re in it, how amazing it feels to come through it, and to know I will never allow myself to endure it to that level ever again. There are so many tips, tricks and advice out there and many are great but are they sustainable?
Here’s the truth, it is a process to build resilience against burnout and ensure you have the right tools that work for you to eliminate it from your future. Don’t get me wrong, it feels amazing to step out of your regular routine and have a vacation, maybe join a retreat or other escape, but what happens when you get back is the same ole way. Living the same way, eating the same way, and falling back into your usual habits. These three things can certainly make you feel more energized or motivated to begin making change when you get home, but without certain elements in place when you arrive back, you’re likely going to fall back into the burnout trap. There is a small percentage of those that actually succeed in making the necessary changes to not fall back into this when they arrive home. The key is finding even small things that innately work with you in order to find a new foot forward and life change that is sustainable.
There are so many excuses we make for allowing ourselves to remain in burnout and this is why the beginning of the process needs to be
This includes releasing all the excuses, thoughts of responsibility around having to get things done or keep things moving forward. Often it is discovered they are all just “in your head”, your perception and giving them more weight than they deserve. Once you’ve cleared your mind you open up to listening. Not to others but to yourself, your thoughts and really hearing what they are telling you. Likely your body has been trying to tell you more than you realize. Listening includes being aware of what your body is sharing. Trust me, your body is the first thing to nudge you when something is wrong. A friend of mine who is a doctor, looked at me one day and said, “you know Stress Leads to Death”. He told me the longer I stay in stress the more harming it is to me in the long run not just short term. Those four words were an eye opener and are what helped me to seriously seek out change, open my mind and had me determined to build a path out of my misery.
How to get started with a healthier mindset?
- give yourself space, to not be distracted, keep your phone out of the room or off
- make a list of things you want MORE of and LESS of in your life
- review your notes, notice if items in one column are potentially the cause of not obtaining the other?
- When excuses show up, are they true? Or are they your perception of the truth? Ex: I need to continuously work late otherwise things won’t get done, I won’t be seen as a team player or a high level contributor. Is this true? Likely not.
Proactive vs Reactive
This was the absolute thing that changed my thinking and approach to both my work and personal life. When work was overwhelming and, I couldn’t keep up I would allow myself to stop and consider was I being “Reactive” or “Proactive”? This one step really attributed to how I gained control over my work and work life balance and put an end to my burnout. When I shifted my mindset and became more open it allowed me to really see what was happening from this perspective. More often than not when you are not in control it is because you are “reacting” to everything that is coming at you, all that you think you need to get done. To gain control you have to consider how can I be more “proactive”. What do I really need to be doing and by when?
Take note of all the things on your to do list or tasks. Consider how you can “proactively” address or accomplish them. Are they things you can schedule? Do you procrastinate, is this leading to the rush when its due or the overwhelm of even starting it? Write beside each a way that can contribute to being more “proactive” on the task rather than letting it control you.
Boundaries & Deal Breakers
Choose items from your More or Less list and consider where you can set boundaries to ensure they are either eliminated or present in your life. This is a tough one at times but really think about why it is important to you to protect the boundaries around these things. Ex: getting your physical activity in each week, spending time with friends and loved ones, have a hard stop with work so it doesn’t eat into your personal time. You may be surprised, as you do this you should see your productivity increase during work hours. Make this a deal breaker for a 3 week period and journal how you are feeling as each week passes. When you see proof in it making a difference to how you feel it will become second nature to want to continue to protect it moving forward.
Becoming comfortable with these shifts in mindset and being aware of how you are approaching your days will begin to help you navigate and work through burnout in a productive way. Adding in your favourite things that bring you joy like, physical activity, adventure, maybe having time to read your favourite style of book or just getting some time for yourself will enhance the experience and help get you to a place of peace and hopefully help you eliminate your burnout.