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Four Ways to Overcome Burnout

by At the Coach's Table

Do you struggle with burnout? Caused by chronic work stress, it is an extremely common problem many of my clients deal with. Burnout has significant costs to your wellbeing. It negatively impacts your emotional and physical health. It interrupts your joy and connection to life. You can't fix this by just pushing through your day or even by temporarily distancing from the discomfort. To heal burnout, is to go deeper into understanding what is happening, to create boundaries, and to prioritize your self-care.

Common symptoms of burnout include:

  • Feeling drained and depleted
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Feeling pessimistic or irritable
  • Not connecting to work or life
  • Having trouble focusing
  • Tense, worried, or edgy
  • Not interested in being around others
  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or trapped

Here are four strategies to help you overcome it.

Take breaks

The pandemic has many of us working long hours with few break times. This lack of boundaries can be due to work pressures or self-imposed. You may believe that breaks are unnecessary or self-indulgent. Taking breaks as often as possible is one of the simplest and most potent ways to lessen burnout. Though deceptively simple, you'd be surprised at how challenging it can feel to just pause.

First start with mini-breaks throughout the day. Focus each break on one wellbeing area. For example, one break can be for mindfulness and you do a deep breathing exercise. Another break can be for your physical self and you stretch. These small breaks can reap great benefits with helping you to return to a more calm, peaceful, and focused state.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a powerful tool which can be practiced in many ways, such as, meditating, yoga, deep breathing exercises, walking, singing, or cooking. Mindfulness is the practice of moving out of 'doing' and into 'being.' When you are focused just on the present, your stress will lower, and what is truly important will be in focus.

Remember that mindfulness is a lifelong practice, you can't perfect it. It is a journey of learning, revealing, and changing.

Practice good sleep hygiene

Make sure you are practicing good sleep hygiene! This may mean getting the proper amount of hours of sleep, shutting off blue screens and going to bed on time, and practicing meditation. Or, not drinking caffeine too late in the day, (3 p.m is a good cutoff) and sleeping with the temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (humans generally sleep better in this range).

There are many more ways to improve your sleep hygiene beyond the ones I have listed, so continue to find out what works best for you, and commit to achieving restorative and refreshing sleep.

Connect to your purpose

The pandemic has made many people re-evaluate their purpose in life, but not as many have re-evaluated their purpose in work. Many of my clients are struggling with connecting to the work that once had them engaged and excited. For some, they were already feeling misaligned before the pandemic and now the added stressors are highlighting their discontent.

It's important throughout your life to check your heart connection to your work. The stressors of the pandemic and the ensuing changes to how you work again (hello tiered work structure!), can heightened your awareness to any misalignments. Check inward and ask yourself, "Do I still enjoy doing what I'm doing, and how I am doing it?" The answers can lead you discovering how to create the purpose-driven life that you desire.

Many of these strategies may seem easy, but actually putting them into practice can be challenging. Take time to think over how to best apply these strategies to your life. Maybe some of them don't apply well to you, or some you will simply apply differently. Nevertheless, I have found that these tips and strategies have worked wonders for many of my clients, and I hope they will for you too.