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Are you exhausted from work and home from responsibilities? How do you heal from burnout?
Physical, emotional, or mental burnout is something you can experience when you neglect your personal needs while overworking yourself. The most common symptoms of burnout are exhaustion, lack of motivation, and even more dangerous effects such as high blood pressure and insomnia.
Here are six tips that will teach you how to heal from burnout.
1. Take a Vacation
According to a study done by Indeed, over half of the workers surveyed said they were feeling the effects of burnout, such as the symptoms listed above, plus an inability to focus. In the long run, these symptoms could negatively affect your job.
The effects of burnout have been especially bad since the start of the pandemic and the increase in the number of employees working from home. LeeHealth.org says that working from home blurs the line between work and home and makes it more difficult to leave your work at the office. And on top of everything else, the lack of change in scenery can make it feel like the days just blend together. The healthiest solution to all of these problems is to take a vacation.
Traveling is important because it’s a way to recharge your batteries, get a dramatic change of scenery, and find more meaning in your life. And when you return to work, you’re likely to feel more energized, motivated, and creative.
2. Find Meaning in Life
In Burnout, Emily and Amelia Nagoski explain that having meaning in life, or some larger purpose, is an important tool that will help you heal from burnout. Having a larger purpose enhances your well-being and makes you more resilient—you’re able to contextualize stressors and realize that in the grand scheme of things, they’re not that important. And if you do end up facing burnout, having a larger purpose will give you the hope and direction you need to persist.
They elaborate that a larger purpose is usually one of three things: (1) working toward an ambitious goal that will leave a legacy, (2) progressing down a spiritual path, or (3) having meaningful emotional connections with others. Or, your larger purpose could be a combination of any of these three things.
3. Form a Loving Support System
Burnout asserts that having a steady, loving support system is also crucial to avoiding and healing from burnout. This is because connection is a vital component of human existence—we can’t survive without it—and caring for others reminds us to care for ourselves.
They elaborate that human emotion is contagious—we end up syncing our emotions, speech, and even heartbeats with the people we spend time with. So when we spend time with someone who we share a loving, intimate relationship with, we can recharge our emotional battery.
The authors explain that these types of intimate relationships are characterized by two things:
- A balance of give and take, where we trust the other person to reciprocate the resources (like love and attention) that we give them.
- An empathetic connection where both parties can set aside their perspective (judgments, criticisms, personal needs, and so on) and see things from the other person’s perspective instead.
4. Get Plenty of Rest
There are two significant ways that taking periods of rest support your capacity for peak performance. These are best understood through the lens of an athlete, according to The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma:
An athlete who overtrains without cool-down moments runs the risk of injury. They push their bodies to get stronger and faster, but the overexertion causes them to blow out a knee. The damage to the muscle tissue or tendons is so severe, they aren’t able to play again. If they had taken time to recover between workouts, they would have:
- Avoided injury and been able to continue their career
- Allowed the muscles to recover and grow stronger, increasing their potential
This second point is important to understand. Periods of rest not only ensure that you don’t damage the assets required for you to perform your work but also allow your assets time to strengthen as a result of your intense training. This process of strengthening during rest is called “supercompensation,” and it describes the way that growth happens during moments of respite.
How to Get Better Sleep
Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker provides several tips on how you can start getting better, less interrupted sleep so you can heal from burnout.
- Keep the same waking and sleeping time each day. Erratic sleep schedules disrupt sleep quality.
- Practice sleep hygiene—lower bedroom temperature, reduce noise, reduce light.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, exercise, or long naps before sleep.
- Get some exercise, which may increase total sleep time and increase the quality of sleep. Exercising has more of a chronic effect, meaning it helps in the long run and doesn’t take effect on a day-to-day scale—exercise on one day doesn’t necessarily lead to better sleep that night. But worse sleep on one night does lead to worse exercise the following day.
- Eat a normal diet (not severe caloric restriction of below 800 calories per day). Avoid very high-carb diets (>70% of calories) since this decreases NREM and increases awakenings.
- Avoid sleeping pills—they’re no better than a placebo.
- For those with insomnia, try cognitive behavioral therapy, which is more effective than sleeping pills.
More Tips to Help You Sleep
In The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, Arianna Huffington devotes a chapter to sleep tips, tools, and techniques. While there are many overlaps with While We Sleep (such as limiting blue light, avoiding alcohol, and getting the temperature right), she offers some additional tips that Walker doesn’t mention:
- Try acupuncture. According to a study, this centuries-old practice had a positive effect on 93% of insomnia patients.
- Sip (or sniff) some lavender. Studies suggest that the herb has a relaxing effect, which can set the stage for a good night’s sleep. Huffington writes that in Germany, lavender tea is an approved treatment for insomnia. You can also try spritzing some lavender onto your pajamas or sheets.
- Empty your mind. To help you reduce anxiety-producing thoughts, try doing a “mind dump” before bed: Write down your to-do list for the next day so that your thoughts won’t keep you up at night.
5. Give Yourself Periods of Deep Restoration and Joy
There’s a fine line between a healthy amount of pressure to stay committed to your work and putting too much pressure on yourself. The latter case can lead to burnout, as you’ll push yourself to do more work than what your mind and body can handle. The 5 AM Club has a solution to find a healthy balance: give yourself well-needed periods of deep restoration.
So what does a cycle of deep restoration look like? The key to restoration is self-care. You must take care of yourself to perform your best work, and the precursor to self-care is self-love. Self-love is the internal expression of loving your external life. Finding joy in life and having fun are essential for a life well-lived. Success without joy is not true success because otherwise, you’ll burn out from working on things you hate. There is magic in life available to anyone willing to seek it, and you seek it by following your heart.
The Keys to Cultivating Joy
Taking time off and lounging begrudgingly is not a representation of joy. You must use your cycle of restoration to fill your heart with goodness and your body with wonder and light because these things repair the strained and torn muscles of endurance and motivation.
The following are some ways to bring more joy into your life to heal from burnout:
- Use words wisely. Words have power, and what you say becomes what you believe. If you’re always complaining about what you lack or injustices, you’re manifesting insufficiency and injustice in your life. Use your words to craft the life you want. Talk about your dreams, the endless possibilities available in life, the hope you have for a better future, and the love you have for yourself and those around you.
- Take two device-free days a week. Allow your brain to replenish its stores of creativity by removing distractions completely.
- Take two days off of work a week. Venture into beautiful territory. Go camping, stay at a spa, visit the ocean, find a relaxing environment and read for enjoyment, visit friends, or take long walks in the wilderness.
- Take a week off each quarter. Make time to travel and explore different environments.
- Pursue hobbies. Learn to knit, paint, play an instrument, cook, ski, or mountain bike. Finding something else you love to do will continue your joy when you step away from your work.
- Visit art galleries. Surround yourself with masterful work, and sit quietly to hear the whispers of geniuses.
- Let go of the past. Grievances, regret, and concerns about the future are hindrances to your ability to be present at the moment.
- Surround yourself with positive and loving people.
6. Prevent Burnout From Happening Again
The last tip on learning how to heal from burnout is ensuring it doesn’t happen again. Burnout explains that to prevent burnout, we must manage both our stressors and the stress they cause. Stress is the body’s hormonal response to perceived threats, and it helps keep us alive. For example, if you’re swimming and see a shark in the water (a stressor), you’re flooded with stress hormones, swim away fast, and feel relieved once you’ve escaped. However, if the shark disappears and your body doesn’t know whether you’ve escaped the threat, the stress will remain.
The stressors people face aren’t usually escapable—they tend to linger in our environment, like the shark. This means stress lingers, builds up, and eventually causes burnout. The authors explain that to avoid this, you must (1) dissipate the lingering stress hormones, and (2) manage and minimize your stressors. This section will provide the authors’ techniques for how you can accomplish these objectives.
Step 1: Dissipate Your Stress Hormones
The authors assert that to dissipate the stress hormones we create when faced with a stressor, we must mimic our body’s natural response to stress. They elaborate that our stress response cycle developed to help early humans survive, so to complete the stress cycle, we need to respond as early humans did.
When our ancient ancestors faced threats (stressors), they took action—they ran, hunted, screamed, and gathered together. While the stressors modern humans face aren’t the same, the way our body processes a neutralized threat is. The authors assert that based on these primal responses, there are three main ways we can dissipate our stress: by exerting energy, connecting with others, and practicing wellness.
Step 2: Manage Your Stressors
The authors explain that stressors are stimuli that indicate danger. Stressors tend to be things like patriarchal standards, unrealistic expectations, and self-doubt—things that indicate your potential to fail yourself or others.
They elaborate that there are two main types of stressors: controllable and uncontrollable. Controllable stressors are things like self-doubt or health issues—there are steps you can take to eliminate these types of stressors. Uncontrollable stressors are things like misogyny or external barriers that hinder your ability to meet goals or expectations—no matter what you do, you can’t eliminate them.
The authors recommend a few techniques that will help you overcome both types of stressors. If the stressor is controllable, you can either make a plan to overcome it or change your expectations and measures of success. If the stressor is uncontrollable, you can either find value in the barriers that are hindering your progress or accept that some goals and expectations are unattainable and move on
As humans, we’re expected to meet certain expectations at work and home. But this doesn’t mean you should push yourself beyond your limits, because your mental and physical health are dependent on the amount of stress you put on yourself. This is why you must take some time for yourself so you can avoid burnout and thrive.
Are there any other ways that will help people learn how to heal from burnout? Let us know in the comments below!
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