14 Ways to Overcome Burnout
Amazingly, the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States reports that more than 46.6 million Americans suffer from some form of mental illness with burnout being included in that list. With the fast pace of modern day society, people seem to have less time and more frustrations – even with all the technology that is supposed to make our lives easier! Here are fourteen practical strategies you can use in your every-day life to avoid and overcome burnout:
♦ Start your day with the powerful positive input of high-energy music. Everyone enjoys different kinds of music so you need to use what YOU like. Just be sure you start the day listening to the kind of high-energy music that gets you PUMPED! It could be rock and roll or country or jazz or pop or whatever makes you feel GREAT about yourself. It is important to start the day off with positive energy and enthusiasm in order to effectively tackle the challenges that you might encounter. If you put yourself in a good mood before you have to deal with problems you could be facing, it makes the frustration much easier to handle.
♦ Do not dwell on your past shortcomings. Do everything you possibly can to learn from your mistakes in all aspects of your life and to make things right to the best of your ability. After that, do not dwell on the person that you once were while ignoring the person that you are now. This can lead to decreased productivity, depression and burnout. If you cannot get over something that went wrong in your life, remember this quote, “Do not blame yourself for past errors. You are no longer the same person who made them and you cannot blame a person who does not exist.”
♦ Get an “accountability partner” to help you stay focused. You can share with this person your needs, fears and victories. An accountability partner is someone you can trust and feel comfortable enough with to just “be yourself”. You should meet with this person at least once a week to talk about your goals, progress, set-backs and thoughts on your personal and professional life. Your accountability partner keeps you on track and moving forward in all aspects of your development. The friendship and discussion you share with this person will help you to look at things objectively, understand yourself better and be more well-rounded. NOTE: An accountability partner should be a person other than your spouse or significant other.
♦ See the funny side of life – allow yourself to laugh and enjoy life without being serious all the time. Laughter helps ease stress and bring mountains back down to mole hills where they belong. Learn to see humor in difficult situations. A good, hearty laugh is the best stress releaser of all. Give yourself and the people you work with a “laugh-a-day”. Put a “humor board” in your work area. Have a designated bulletin board where anyone can post cartoons, jokes or even funny pictures. This gives everyone a chance to ease anxieties. You can also use what can be called “comic memos”. This is where you attach a funny cartoon to the routine, sometimes boring memos or pieces of paperwork that have to be given out. Another idea for easing tension is to choose various people in the office to take turns telling a family friendly “joke of the day”. The more you laugh, the less you worry and the healthier you feel.
♦ Slow down! “Take inventory” of your work, personal life, accomplishments and goals. Take the time to reflect and think. This revitalizes the mind and refreshes the spirit. Slow the chaos in your mind to allow yourself to just think and reflect. MAKE time to do this.
♦ Plan time where you can take off work even if you have to plan weeks or months ahead – make the effort to give yourself a break! Too many people are under the impression that it is impossible to take to a break because of being on call or constant emergencies. If you plan early enough and stick to your commitment with everyone on your team knowing well in advance of when your time off will be, you can make it work. The truth is, if you do not allow yourself time to relax away from work, you could become bitter and resentful even when you are there. Ultimately, your work will overwhelm you, not because you took a few days off, but because you burned yourself out so badly that you experienced emotional meltdown. Allow yourself some time to relax – guilt free.
♦ When you feel overwhelmed, plan out your meal break with friends or family. Make it a point to not talk about your work. Talk about your hobbies, sports, recent movies or entertainment or whatever you enjoy. This gives you a release from the “pressure cooker” of stress. Sometimes it just helps to get away briefly in the middle of your shift.
♦ If you feel burned out on people, eat lunch or dinner by yourself a couple times a week. This gives you the chance to just enjoy quiet time and not have to talk if you do not feel like engaging in conversation. There can be tremendous power in silence.
♦ Take up an exercise program. Even if you do not have time to go to the gym, you can take a walk around the block a few times each evening or work out with a fitness video at home. Exercise makes you feel good about yourself, cleanses your body of built up stress and makes you sleep better.
♦ Don’t just focus on what you haven’t done, give yourself the credit you deserve for what you have done. A sure way to burn yourself out is to always think about what you could have, should have or just didn’t do for whatever reason. This brings your self-image down instead of lifting it up. Acknowledge the positive things you have been able to accomplish, give yourself credit for having the courage to face each day and focus on your victories. You should always learn from the past but don’t stay there. Keep a positive attitude about the present and be optimistic about the future.
♦ Manage your time by making blocks of time for various tasks. During those blocks of time, do your best to not allow yourself to be interrupted for other things. This will increase your efficiency and reduce the anxiety caused by trying to do twenty things at once. Of course there are always times when emergencies happen and you are forced to divert your attention to something else. Just use solid time management to the best of your ability and don’t procrastinate.
♦ Take a power nap with your feet elevated. During your meal break, if you feel tired and are having difficulty concentrating, taking a short 10 or 15 minute power nap will help. By elevating your feet, the blood will more readily flow to your brain which increases the oxygen levels you need to feel well-rested and alert. To get the most out of your short rest time, hold a pen or a set of keys in one hand while you are lying down. Keep the arm holding the object slightly raised but obviously comfortable. When your body reaches a complete state of relaxation your grip on the object will release, causing it to fall to the floor and startle you awake. In just a few minutes, you will get the same benefit of a longer, comfortable sleep. A little power nap with your feet elevated can make you feel amazingly refreshed.
♦ Do not be afraid to say “NO” when you know that you are either already booked or have all the commitments you can handle. Spreading yourself too thin inside and outside of work can lead to dangerous stress and anxiety.
♦ Understand that goals can and may change depending on your environment and your experiences. Sometimes situations and circumstances change in your life that put
you down a different road. If you find that something is not right for you, it is OK to change paths without feeling guilty or ashamed. This is not failing. This is being mature about your future happiness and what you now know is right for you. To avoid bitterness and eventual burnout, understand that whatever you choose to do with your career and your life has to be for your well-being. No outside influence can know what is better for you than you.
- Michael L. Stahl