It’s all fine and well to go through a list of symptoms and establish that you are or are not burnt out. But if you are, what do you do?
The two main causes of burnout are excessive responsibility and insufficient resources. Most of the time, both of these factors are out of your control. So, burnout is not necessarily an easy problem to fix.
The most obvious solution is to completely remove yourself from the situation that caused your burnout. Sometimes this is possible. If it is a toxic work environment, you can go find a new job. If it is case of being overloaded and you have a good manager, it is a case of having a conversation. If you are overloaded with family responsibilities, its time to spread the load.
But not all burnout situations are simple to resolve.
If your burnout is caused by opening a business – you do not want to simply shut the business down. If finding a new job is not as simple as it sounds, or if your industry is one that is characterised by huge workloads, then you cannot just move on.
But there are some steps that you can take to help yourself re-balance and heal:
- Make time for you
You need to schedule time for recovery. Hard work burns your energy, you need time to replenish your cognitive, emotional and physical reserves. Schedule daily, weekly, monthly and annual time – put it in your calendar – to relax and to spend time with loved ones, or to do things that you love doing.
- Make time for health
Healthy habits fight exhaustion. Schedule exercise (even if all you start with is taking the stairs instead of the lift), try to eat healthily, drink more water (amazingly effective!) and most importantly, get enough sleep. Sleep is vital for your mental health and emotional strength. Do what you need to do to fix your sleep – buy a new pillow, a weighted blanket, a whole new bed if you have to! Get darker curtains or a white noise machine or speak to a doctor about non-addictive sleeping tablets. But whatever you do, fix your sleeping patterns.
Speak to your significant other, your manager, your coworkers, your friends. Be open and honest about your struggles and your fears. Do not be scared to ask for help and support. You do not need to deal with this alone. A loving spouse and a good manager, will come alongside you and lift you up!
- Start small
Small, daily habits can change your life. A while back I had issues with my hands (long story, not getting into it here), I had to fix my core to fix my hands and that involved doing daily exercise. I was weak and completely out of shape. I started with three pushups a day. Three. I can do more than thirty now! Start with tiny habits, don’t overload yourself with more expectations. If you need to start exercising, fit in three pushups. If you need to eat better, change one food item. Start small, but do these small changes daily. They add up fast!
- Don’t neglect your spiritual side
If you are religious, you have probably stopped praying. Go back to prayer. If you are not religious, consider time outside and time spent actively calming your mind. The act of focusing on something bigger and better than you has proven to be extremely effective in fighting stress and anxiety. Spend time outside. Learn to be quiet. Learn to do nothing. Build the mental habits of gratitude and letting go of negative thoughts and emotions. And start small.
- Manage your work
If you run your own business, this is a good time to evaluate your tasks and consider which can be delegated and outsourced. It is probably also time to evaluate your clients and to get rid of the toxic ones – the ones that drain your energy and don’t pay you well.
You might not be able to change jobs or reduce your workload. But you can adjust your workday in such a way that you spend a little bit more time on the aspects of your work that you do love. You can manage your work hours and make sure that you leave work at work. Do not allow your work to invade your personal life. Do not allow your work to dictate your schedule or your time.
- Don’t be Perfect
Perfectionists tend to have a higher rate of burnout. Especially those who suffer from fear-based perfectionism. It is ok to set high standards for yourself – but you also need to be kind to yourself if you can’t achieve them. “Good enough” is perfectly fine.
The polar opposite of burnout is engagement. If you can re-connect with your passion and the reason you chose this path, you are likely to beat this burnout and grow stronger from it! But you are unlikely to rekindle passion and engagement without giving yourself time to recover and rejuvenate. So make sure you start making small, incremental changes that lead to more time for you, more time for relaxation, more time for those you love and over time you will slowly realise that you are feeling like yourself again!
Remember, you are already overwhelmed. Don’t try to change your whole life overnight. Start with small changes, and slowly increase or stack them. Lots of tiny good changes add up to a big difference!
If you are feeling overwhelmed and like you have lost all hope, please reach out to us for a chat. We would love to help you find your passion again.