In our society, the word “busy” is considered a badge of honor. Many people keep busy because they want to show others that they have a fulfilling in life, but in many cases, the image they try to convey is far from reality. People with jam-packed schedules who spend long hours at work may experience high levels of stress, exhaustion — and burnout.
According to Psychology Today, burnout involves a state of physical or emotional exhaustion with a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity. The term “burnout” was used for the first time in 1975 to describe job-related stress, and was defined as a “prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal job stressors.”
Burnout is measured by symptoms in three areas: emotional exhaustion, a sense of detachment from loved ones, and a sense of being ineffective at work. Burnout can have emotional and physical consequences including fatigue, insomnia, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. If left untreated, burnout may lead to chronic anxiety, depression, and addictions.
A study conducted in 2016 revealed that 28% of working Americans were dealing with burnout that year. If we count the people who did not mention “burnout”, but declared that they were experiencing high levels of stress and extreme fatigue, the result was 62%. Recent research showed that up to 80% of visits to physicians may have a stress-related component.
If you are experiencing burnout, we invite you to try these alternative strategies:
1. Build self-awareness
Self-awareness is the first step to address burnout. Many people don’t realize they are experiencing burnout until it’s too late. It is crucial to train your brain to assess your life and work, so you can identify the areas that need your attention. You can start by scheduling weekly or monthly reviews with one of our loving mindfulness coaches to evaluate your work, relationships, and feelings. Using a journal might be helpful to keep track of your thoughts. When you identify triggers or negative patterns, ask yourself if these are things you can control or change.
2. Reduce stressors
Examples of work stressors include difficult boss or co-workers, tight deadlines, scheduling conflicts, high turnover, and lack of support. You may not be able to change your work situation entirely, but there are certainly a couple of areas that you can improve. For example, you could start by reviewing your schedule and talking to your boss about resetting priorities or scaling back the amount of work that you do. There is no harm in trying. Make sure you're well-equipped for saying no to workloads and things that don't resonate with you.
3. Make time for self-care
Healing from burnout starts when you decide to prioritize your wellbeing over the work and relationships that are causing you harm. If you cannot quit your job or take time off, make sure you take short, frequent breaks, and use these moments to disconnect from work and recharge. Something simple like moving the gaze from your screen to the window, or taking a walk to refill your coffee/tea can help. As the weekend comes, take time to focus on the little things that make you happy, and consider pampering yourself with a massage. Self-care is a habit, and habits are learnable, and learnable faster with expert guidance.
4. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness meditation is one of the best techniques that you can use to disconnect and relax. The beauty of mindfulness meditation is that it can be practiced anywhere, anytime. You can request a guided meditation session to have a profound mindfulness expert virtually take you to a deep meditative state, instantly.
You can practice for as little as 5/10 minutes a day, before going to work, during breaks, or before going to bed. You simply have to focus on your breath and observe your thoughts without judgment, letting them pass like clouds. Counting while you inhale and exhale helps you stay present. Connecting with your body, grounding is one of the techniques.
5. Declutter your life
Have you ever heard of minimalism? It is the art of decluttering your life. This strategy can help you evaluate what is really important and get rid of the rest. You can start by eliminating old files and emails from your computer. Then, you can focus on other areas of your life — for example, you can sell or donate old clothes that you don’t wear anymore. It is also crucial to stop saying yes to invites just because you feel bad to say no, and investing your time in people who are causing you more harm than good.
6. Add rituals to your life
After reducing the clutter, you can consider adding rituals to your life. Rituals help you set up a pleasant rhythm and calm you down before performing in a stressful situation. Practicing mindfulness meditation before going to work is an excellent starting point. You can also keep a journal to keep track of your progress in life and write down three things to be thankful for before going to bed. Gratitude is a powerful tool to remind you of all the great things you have.
7. Look for new stimuli
If you have a chance, work in a different area of the office or ask your boss if you can work from home. If you already work from home, consider changing room, work from a cafe, or take a trip out of town, and work from there. If you decide to quit your job, maybe you can switch career, or move to a new city or country. Outside of work, get a new hobby, read books on topics you’re not interested in, or volunteer. Studies showed that learning something new boosts creativity. Try Holoscendence - integral meditative practice.
8. Consider professional support
If you are experiencing burnout, we invite you to consider the help of a professional to guide you towards recovery. We at awarenow built a community of holistic, experienced therapists, coaches, and guides to make it easy for you to access the right whole-person support anywhere, anytime.
Orlando Zuniga is specialized in burnout recovery and he would be honored to guide you.