Burnout isn’t a strange concept anymore! It’s happening in every job function and industry, and most of us have by now either experienced it ourselves or seen a family member, friend or coworker go through it. So what can we do to avoid burnout?
Burnout was already on the rise before the pandemic. And the last few years surely haven’t made it any easier as it continues to skyrocket across the globe!
Let’s explore what burnout truly is, the early signs, and ten mindful practices you can start doing now to not only avoid burnout but also live a more aligned and fulfilled life!
What is Burnout?
We’ve all heard of it, but what is exactly burnout?
Burnout as defined by the World Health Organization is “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. It is considered an occupational phenomenon, which means it refers exclusively to a work condition. Who knew?
Two interesting aspects are at play. If you want to reduce the risks of burnout, here are two areas to take a closer look at:
- Your work conditions
- Your stress management habits
Early Signs of Burnout
In our society, where overworking has been for too long not only encouraged but celebrated, where “being too busy” is a sign of success, and where work boundaries have gotten a bit blurry, we all need to be on the lookout for early signs of burnout:
- Feeling tired or drained most of the time
- Having lots of self-doubts
- Procrastinating and taking longer to get things done
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling helpless, trapped, and/or defeated
- Feeling detached/alone in the world
- Having a cynical/negative outlook
- Not performing tasks as you normally would
Remember, prevention is always better than a cure!
Burnout is common in our culture, and it’s easy to turn a blind eye to it. If we just.keep.going, eventually we’ll get ahead, right? Or maybe we’re on our way to a burnout.
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If we just.keep.going, eventually we’ll get ahead, right?
Do not wait for burnout to unpack its bags and settle in as part of your life! The following strategies will help you to be better prepared to reduce its effects on you and help you live with more peace and joy!
As burnout becomes increasingly more common, an abundance of health and wellness trends are rising in popularity. Which support everyone’s well-being. Here are the Top 10 Health & Wellness Trends to Follow in 2023
10 Mindful Practices to Avoid Burnout Before You Are Get Burned:
1. Set Career Goals That Truly Suit You
Your career goals are going to be different than those of your partner, friend or coworker. Your career goals should be unique to you as they depend on your desired lifestyle, your hopes and your dreams. Really think about what you want now and in the future. Are your goals putting you on a path toward that?
Having cookie-cutter goals that are not bringing you joy and satisfaction can lead to burnout. Working hard towards something that isn’t fulfilling can make you lose motivation, interest and a sense of self.
To live a life that truly feels aligned, you need better aligned goals. Review the following questions when setting career goals:
- Are you inspired by your goals?
- Is it worth the hard work you will be putting in?
- Will you be using your natural talents and gifts to achieve your goals?
- Will you truly be excited by this achievement?
- Will your current goals help you achieve your ideal career?
2. Spend Time Outdoors On a Regular Basis
Spending time in nature benefits both your mental and physical well-being. Try to make it a habit to spend time outdoors on a regular basis to connect to the present moment and reduce your daily stress. Just listening to the birds or to the wind blowing through trees can bring some perspective to the broader, interconnected aspects of life.
If you struggle to find the motivation to get outside regularly, here are a few ideas for you to try:
- Register and train for a 5K
- Commit to doing a weekly hike or walk with a friend
- Look up volunteering opportunities in your local community
These 21 Surprising Health Benefits of Nature Will Inspire You to Get Outside
3. Plan a Weekly Digital Detox
One of the reasons burnout is such a big deal for our generation is that we are constantly ON! No more leaving work at work, we can now answer email 24/7. And while it brings us a lot more flexibility than what our parents had (hello, remote work from a vacation spot!), it also brings a lot of additional stress.
And when it’s not work that requires us to be online, we can lose ourselves on social media.
Plan a monthly (or weekly!) digital detox day where you don’t spend any time online at all. See if you find yourself with a lot more time on your hands to do what really makes you happy – reading a good book, painting, playing music, going on a walk or simply being present with your loved ones.
We also like the idea of checking the digital well-being function of your phone! You can add a timer to the apps that use up a good portion of your time and energy. Or set the “do not disturb” mode after a certain hour so you won’t be tempted to check all the notifications coming in! This is a great way to set better boundaries daily.
4. Take Breaks During the Day Before It Becomes Too Much
Do you spend the whole day sitting in front of your screen, skipping lunch or eating while working?
If you feel like your to-do list is too long and you don’t have time to take a break, it’s time to change your perspective. Regular breaks not only help you to regulate your nervous system but also help you to be more productive. When you’re exhausted and stressed you don’t produce good work anyway!
So take that five minute break your mind and body are craving. Take a proper lunch break to fill your body with good nutrients, and breathe a little deeper throughout the day!
Set reminders on your phone right now that invite you to take a break, get up and go on a walk!
5. Plan a Sabbatical or Mini-Retirement
A lot of people consider taking a sabbatical to rest and regroup after burnout. And if sabbaticals are a great way to recover from work-based exhaustion, they are even better when used as prevention to burnout!
A sabbatical is an extended and intentional break from work. It creates time and space not only to recharge but also to refocus on yourself and your well-being.
Creating space in your career to travel the world (or just stay home!) and focus on other areas of your life can bring many great benefits:
- Gain a new perspective on what you need and want next in life
- Find and connect to your deeper purpose and meaning and learn how you can intentionally work towards it
- Gain more self-awareness and discover ways to be more present and better deal with daily stresses
If it’s an option for you, a sabbatical is an amazing opportunity to slow down and refocus on yourself so you can come back, whether to your current career or a brand new one, feeling stronger and more aligned.
A common lament among highly successful professionals is that they wish they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves, not the life others expected of them. Don’t wait for retirement to take the break you deserve! Middleton & Company helps curious professionals take an intentional sabbatical break thanks to smart financial planning tools and strategies.
Just like retirement, you can plan ahead of time for your sabbatical.
6. Practice Yoga
Yoga is known to connect us back to ourselves, to our breath and body. We learn great tools on the mat that we can apply in our daily life and at work to regulate our stress and emotions.
Incorporating regular yoga practices into your schedule will help you to slow down and check in with yourself before it gets to be too much!
You can now practice from the comfort of your home, or on a break at work, with YouAligned’s premium yoga classes on YA Classes.
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Explore the diverse range of online yoga, fitness, barre, Pilates, and dance classes on YA Classes by YouAligned.
7. Speak to Your Manager
A burnout isn’t an individual problem. It’s an organizational one. And you shouldn’t try to solve it all on your own. Since burnout is linked to your work conditions, speaking to your manager about it is important!
Don’t wait for your boss or your manager to come to you to make sure you are okay. It’s time to take the lead.
The first step is to bring awareness to the different aspects of your job causing work exhaustion. Is there a project you’re struggling with? Is it the remote conditions (or lack of them) that aren’t suitable for your situation?
Whatever it is, it’s important to become aware and bring that awareness back to management so that together you can find suitable solutions.
8. Delegate and Ask For Help
“Alone, we go faster, but together we go further.” This African proverb invites you to reconsider your workload and ask for help and collaborate!
Make a list of the tasks that are overwhelming or that require too much time or energy from you. Maybe it’s just not your strongest skill and someone else could be more efficient at it. This can be for tasks at work, and for tasks at home.
And learn to delegate before the last minute. Think of it as a long-term strategy instead of a quick fix! It’s time to bring people on your team and work together. You will then be able to focus on tasks that are more fulfilling to you.
9. Lean On Your Support Network
You don’t have to face everything alone! Read this again. Leaning on friends, family or a licensed professional to talk through your frustration and overwhelm is not a sign of weakness. Quite the opposite, it helps you to get stronger.
And you don’t have to wait until burnout to start talking openly about your struggles. Having the support of other human beings to help you navigate the ups and downs of life and work can be highly beneficial and help you avoid more severe consequences such as burnout!
If you opt for working with a professional, a lot of insurance companies now include coverage, and larger companies offer a stipend or free access to counseling services. Take advantage of it!
10. Create a Supportive Morning and Bedtime Routine
Routines are a great way to start and end the day on a more peaceful note.
Did you know the first thing you do in the morning can impact your entire day? Resist the temptation to check your phone, social media or emails first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Give your mind a break and instead try these easy-to-implement morning routines.
And then make a list of some end-of-day routines that can help you relax and be ready for rest at bedtime.
Curious what might be the best routine for your personality type? Read: Enneagram Self-Care: The Best Routine Based on Your Personality Type
Try the routines out for a couple weeks and see which ones make a difference for you!
Live a More Aligned and Fulfilled Life With These Tips to Avoid Burnout
If you live your life at 100 mph, constantly chasing the next to-do, wondering where you are headed anyway, then it’s a good time to implement these mindful practices into your life. Pick one or two to start and then build from there.
Avoid burnout and live a more aligned and joyful life. Starting today.