Our previous post is on the symptoms and signs of burnout to help you recognize if you display some of those symptoms and what your risk for burnout might be. For individuals who have a high risk or are already dealing with severe burnout symptoms, here are some things you can start doing now to recover and achieve a better balance in your life.
How to Recover from Burnout
First, keep your boundaries. Don’t allow anyone to push them or violate them. Whether you work from home or in a work environment, you need boundaries in place to help with creating a healthy routine every day. There are techniques that can help with this such as setting an alarm when it is time to stop working or having a to-do list so that you can see your success as you mark things off. Chiefly, stop being as accessible during your off hours and feeling like you can’t say “No”.
Here are a few firm responses that mean “NO” and lessen burnout:
- “It’s not okay when you ask me to do that for you.”
- “Nope, I’m just not comfortable doing that.”
- “By no means can I do that for you.”
- “I can’t fit that into my schedule.”
- “I just don’t have the time to do that.”
- “I’m in the middle of several things and there’s just no way.”
- “I don’t have any more room on my calendar.”
Show them that you care while saying no. Consider saying, “thanks, but I have a commitment on that day” or “I’m sorry, I can’t do that for you at this time.”
Address Your Mental Health
You must know the symptoms of burnout and recognize them in yourself before you can start a recovery plan. For a very long time there has been stigma in seeking out mental health help. Break the stigma. Contact a counselor or therapist. Having a trained professional to talk to who is impartial can help you get your life back on a good track. Spend time with family. Burnout is treatable, especially when you begin to cultivate more positive emotions.
Schedule Breaks Throughout the Day
Instead of working straight through the day at full throttle, schedule times to step away and relax for a few minutes. Go outside and look up at the sky. These moments of awe can make you realize that you are not alone. Quiet reflective moment can help diminish the overwhelming stress of work and allow you time to get a read on how you are doing and what is most important in your life.
We always hear how important exercise is, but it really helps your body to eliminate built up or chronic stress and energy so that you are better able to relax and cope with challenges. Not only that, but there are also many known health benefits to sticking to an exercise regimen. No need to run the marathon. Just start by taking a walk or doing any physical activity that you enjoy.
In the moment, pay attention to what is going on around you. Take a breath. Notice how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Be present instead of somewhere else in your thoughts. I am sure there are a lot of places to be in those thoughts… but instead, just stay present. Being mindful will help you cope with the stressors that are causing you to experience burnout. Deep breathing is also an important way to relax and can be done anywhere, with great effect.
Find Fun Things to Do
Find things you enjoy when you aren’t working, whether it’s a hobby, starting a new class, or volunteering. Focus on having fun. Keep your sense of humor as studies show that it increases your mental wellbeing, lowers levels of loneliness, and lessens those nasty headaches we just talked about. Whether you like stand-up comedy, slapstick, sarcastic humor, gallows humor, observational humor or self-defeating humor, just figure out what makes you laugh. It does not matter if you giggle, snort, chuckle, roar or have a good belly laugh, just enjoy the silliness.
How to Prevent Burnout Going Forward
It is possible to recover from burnout, even though you may feel completely overwhelmed. It takes some effort and planning to create healthy habits, a good daily routine, and maintain boundaries so that you can be successful both at work and in your personal life. Whether legal boundaries, relationship boundaries, emotional boundaries, or time boundaries, remember what Tony Gaskins says, “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.”
Being able to recognize when burnout might be creeping up on you will help you to take a step back, look at what is going on, and adjust accordingly. Stop and think. Create a flexible mindset as you focus on how much control you have over the situation and what is in your power to change. Be self-aware. Focus on strategies that you have found helpful in the past to maintain a positive attitude. With a positive mindset and improved quality of life you can alleviate some of the distress that burnout is causing, and reduce your risk of burnout in the future.
All things considered, having support systems in place whether a therapist, family member or friend, will help you get back to a place of balance. Learning to communicate and not internalize emotions is crucial. It really is all about being connected to those things in life that enrich your world and where you can make meaning. Instead of thinking that taking care of yourself is selfish, recognize that it will enable you to succeed and be fulfilled in the areas of your life that matter most. After the pandemic, you realize how fragile life is. Therefore, be mindful of what you can do right now. You are not alone. And if no one has told you yet today, you are amazing!
Barbara is a leading authority and best-selling author on managing burnout, secondary traumatic stress, compassion fatigue, and vicarious trauma. As a nationally recognized keynote speaker, she motivates audiences to build their resilience and create work-life balance. Her programs help leaders and teams manage workplace chronic stressors and get over burnout at work.
Barbara's newest book, "But I Didn't Say Goodbye: Helping Families After a Suicide", is available now on Amazon - https://amzn.to/2FwS6JI
• Three weeks prior to giving birth to triplets, her father died by suicide. Her story was featured in the Emmy award winning documentary, Fatal Mistakes, Families Shattered by Suicide narrated by Mariette Hartley. Many employees are grieving personal loss. She offers programs for leaders on lost productivity and performance while managing grief at work.
• As a sought-after keynote speaker who has presented to over 500 groups since 1991, including corporations, state and national associations and non-profit organizations, Barbara offers work-life balance strategies for leaders to implement right away. With clarity and humor, her speaking engagements are designed to give audiences powerful and practical strategies of work-life balance, wellbeing, and self-care that can be implemented immediately.
• Barbara is a Board-Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress and Diplomate with the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. She received a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a Master of Arts degree in community health, with a concentration in thanatology, both from Brooklyn College.