Tired of flying on an empty fuel tank? Here’s how to combat burnout
Feeling depleted, uninspired or simply “meh”? You might be experiencing burnout, a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion experienced by millions of Americans.
No one plans to burn out — but… maybe we should.
Nearly eight in 10 employees report feelings of burnout in some capacity, so chances are, it’s only a matter of time before it comes knocking on your door. Physicians and others in the healthcare industry commonly grapple with burnout, which has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but parents, leaders, teachers, entrepreneurs, creatives and workers of any type are also vulnerable.
What causes burnout?
Burnout results from prolonged periods of stress, overload, exhaustion (think: high-pressure, high-stakes professions).
But it can also occur when you are feeling disconnected, unsupported by leadership, not valued, or when you constantly strive to do all things right, all the time.
You can do anything, but you can’t do everything (at least, not at the same time).
You’ll end up completely exhausted and devoid of energy, passion and drive in the process. It’s like flying with a fuel tank that’s nearing empty: if you don’t stop to refuel, you will inevitably crash and burn.
So how do you continue flying your plane with purpose when you’re feeling completely tapped out? Refuel your tank and fight burnout by focusing on what’s within your Span of Control.
Five ways to refuel your tank and fight burnout
Studies have shown people who adopt a gratitude practice can improve their mental health while fighting burnout. In fact, a gratitude practice has lasting positive effects on the brain. Start by creating a gratitude journal and naming just one thing you’re grateful for each day. Focusing your time and energy on what you’re grateful for will help shift your mindset away from negativity to the positive things in your life. Fight for your joy, it matters.
2. Lifetime Learning
Continuous learning is critical to staying curious and engaged, which is key to remaining motivated and fulfilled.
Choose one thing you’ve always wanted to learn, but perhaps had to put on the backburner (because, life…), and do that thing.
Sign up for lessons. Go to the library. Order that book. Make that phone call. Take action to continue learning, and to prevent burnout.
Regardless of your situation, no one can stop you from learning. That is within your span of control.
3. Technology Detox
If your attention is constantly consumed by the siren song of social media, emails and text messages, it’s time to refocus on what really matters in life.
Repeat after me: I am not a slave to my device! Nonstop doomscrolling sucks away your joy, your hope, your sense of self.
- Turn off your notifications.
- Ditch your phone an hour before bed and during in-person interactions with others.
- Note when you feel the impulse to check your phone, and ask yourself, “Am I checking out of habit?” If the answer is yes, put it away.
Increasing oxygen flow to the brain can quickly and effectively reduce stress.
The best way to increase oxygen flow? Good, old-fashioned, blood-pumping exercise. Both cardiovascular and strength-training workouts have been found to help manage stress and burnout, so pick a workout that works for you and prioritize movement every day.
Additionally, regular, vigorous exercise can protect against the effects of Covid-19 in a variety of ways as well, so if you’re looking for a good reason to start? This is it!
Sleeplessness and stress go hand in hand. Why? We know stress can increase your cortisol levels, cause poor sleep, and lead to health issues like weight gain, depression and high-blood pressure. Those, in turn, contribute to stress and poor sleep. Again, a vicious cycle.
To ensure you’re getting enough sleep to support a healthy mind and body, create healthy sleep habits and see your doctor about any possible sleep disorders that might be holding you back from optimal rest.
You can’t always avoid the stress, chaos, and uncertainty that causes burnout, but you can prepare for it and combat it with intentional choices.
During times of uncertainty and chaos, burnout doesn’t have to be inevitable. Small steps everyday can keep you headed in a positive direction.
Above all, never be afraid to ask for help…
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