Burnout is a little bit like getting drunk. You know you shouldn’t; that it’s not good for you on numerous levels, but you can sometimes end up doing it anyway. Applying any of these seven strategies can keep you from waking up one day to realise you just can’t get out of bed.
1. Create recharge rituals
The most crucial strategy for avoiding burnout and bolstering your capacity to handle stress is having daily rituals, which maintain optimal wellbeing – body, mind and spirit.
Just as a car that gets a regular tune-up will go further on less fuel, handle slippery roads better and rarely break down, if you regularly invest time in activities that nurture your wellbeing you will have more energy, be better able to handle the curve-balls life throws your way, and accomplish more than you would otherwise.
Research has found that regularly taking ‘time out’ to disengage from your work makes you far more effective.
Exercise, meditation, reading, listening to music, gardening, or the latest fad: colouring – all these activities help you refuel and ‘tune up’ so that you can handle life better and maintain the perspective that keeps you from making small problems big (a trait of people who are burnt out).
2. Nurture positive relationships
The people you surround yourself with have a profound impact on your mental outlook and emotional state.
So be intentional in surrounding yourself with people who lift you up, and avoid those who don’t.
Research has found that people with five or more close friends are 60 per cent more likely to be happier.
Likewise, happier workers are 33 per cent more likely to support their colleagues!
3. Step away from your devices (or just unplug them!)
In our over-wired world, it has become increasingly important to set boundaries with technology.
The problem is that our brains become addicted to the micro-hit of endorphins we get each time we check our email or the latest tally of likes on our Facebook post.
While unplugging may feel like your right arm has been cut off to begin with, a few ‘device-free hours’ can be incredibly liberating, and just what the doctor ordered.
The world will continue to turn without you, but you’ll return to it a whole lot fresher.
4. Breathe. Slowly. Deeply. Often.
Your autonomic nervous system takes care of breathing; you really don’t have to schedule it.
However, millions of people walk around in a constant state of ‘emergency’, breathing only very short, shallow breaths that don’t get the full quota of oxygen into the bloodstream and up to the brain.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie who thrives on stress and pressure, even more so.
Taking just two minutes to take 10 long deep diaphragmatic breaths can short-circuit your stress response and help put your deadlines and pressures back into perspective. Try it. Now.
5. Say ‘no’ to the good
People-pleasers are highly vulnerable to burnout. So if you think you fit the bill, keep in mind that you teach people what to expect of you.
If people are always asking you for ‘a little favour’, it’s because you’ve trained them to expect that you will do it. If you’re the go-to person for everything, you’ll burn out fast, because when you say yes to someone else, you’re often saying no to yourself.
Achieving what you really want often requires saying no to the good to make room for the great. It’s rarely easy, but always worth it.
6. Chunk down
Taking a task on in one entire lump can be overwhelming, exhausting and leave little room for rest.
Breaking a big project down into smaller chunks with their own deadlines is often a more productive, and healthier, way of completing it.
7. Challenge your perception of urgency
Being busy can fuel a false sense of significance, but being busy and being effective are two distinctly differently things.
Nothing can burn you out faster than assuming that the faster you go, the more successful you’ll be; that you have to do everything, perfectly, now. You don’t.
You’ll get more done if you move calmly, and you’ll realise that some of the things you were racing to do, weren’t really important to begin with.
Beware the bareness of a busy life!
Margie Warrell is the national ambassador for women in global business, speaker and author of Brave: 50 Acts of Courage to Thrive in Work, Love & Life.