I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve been at the end of my rope with nothing more to give. Whether it’s burnout in the workplace, at home or in relationships–it’s never an enjoyable experience. In today’s world, burnout is the new global pandemic.
If you’re feeling burnt out, you are not alone. According to Flex Jobs, 76% of the population has experienced burnout. Most of us are working multiple jobs, going to school, and managing relationships, all while trying to work in time for self-care and a social life. Just thinking about it is making me exhausted!
Today, we’re going to talk about some of the things I’ve implemented into my life to avoid and prevent burnout. While I can’t guarantee they will work for you, these five things helped me get through some pretty rough patches in my life.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is a state of extreme physical, emotional and mental exhaustion often caused by prolonged periods of stress and overwork. If you’re constantly overwhelmed by everything in your life, odds are you’re on the verge of burnout (or already in it).
Burnout symptoms can include procrastination, lack of motivation, hopelessness, irritability, reduced productivity or a cynical outlook on life. Maybe you’ve noticed frequent fights with your spouse over little things. Or you’re dreading your work day more than usual.
For me personally, burnout almost always mimics depression. I feel unmotivated and find myself doom-scrolling on Instagram or TikTok for hours and then beating myself up later for not getting anything done. It’s like part of my brain knows I should be getting up and doing something about it, but the other part is paralyzed.
If you’re an extra neurospicy person like me who struggles with ADHD, burnout can come on even heavier.
How to Prevent Burnout
Keeping a balanced life is crucial to preventing burnout. With the right strategies and a proactive mindset, you will be able to regain control of your life, renew your energy and find balance in this chaotic world. At least that’s the goal.
Here are 5 things I have found helpful in preventing burnout:
Set Realistic Goals
GOALS. GOALS. GOALS. We all have them. Some of us keep them in our minds, and some of us write them down on sticky notes and remind ourselves of them every day. Regardless of how you go about setting goals, it’s important to make sure you’re making realistic goals.
When I started my blog, I had REAL BIG goals. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not. But I watched a few too many YouTube videos of gurus telling me how easy it was to quit their job and become a full-time blogger, which led to me setting up some pretty unrealistic goals for myself.
After a few months of struggling to build a website, I quickly realized I was in way over my head and nowhere near any of my goals.
Let’s set some realistic goals together!
Grab a journal and write down these four categories: “daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly.” Pick things you KNOW you can do and things you will enjoy. Success breeds success, so start with small daily goals you know you can achieve, like:
- Daily: This should be something you would like to do every day, like reading a book, walking, drinking more water, or cooking something healthy. Daily goals should help keep you grounded and moving forward.
- Weekly: Pick something (or a few things) that is important to you. You might not be able to see friends every day, but is once a week feasible? Or maybe writing a blog post for your website every day is too much, but once a week feels good.
- Monthly: Monthly goals can look different for everyone. You might want to take a short trip once a month, or maybe you want to increase your income by $100 every month. Regardless of how you decide to break it up, make sure your monthly goals aren’t too big. It’s better to surpass your goals than to set them too high and feel bad about not reaching them.
- Yearly: There are a few different ways to do this. You can set a goal you want to achieve each year, like traveling abroad. Or, you can set a goal you want to achieve by the end of that year, like quitting your job.
For the bigger goals, break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. If you want to travel, plan a trip, figure out the cost, and start saving a little bit every week or month. Even $24 a month will add up over time.
Small achievements will give you the drive to keep going. Feeling accomplished will improve your well-being and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
Establish Boundaries With Yourself & Others
Setting boundaries at work and home is a crucial component of preventing burnout. If you work in the corporate world, saying “no” whenever you’re at capacity may not be an option. Instead, try saying, “What timeline are you looking to receive this in? Right now, I’m working on X, Y, and Z. To get that to you sooner, I must de-prioritize one. Can you tell me what the best trade-off is?”
When it comes to friends, I have a hard time setting boundaries. For a people pleaser like me, setting boundaries can feel a bit like narcissism. I remember asking my therapist if I was being narcissistic when I told friends I didn’t have space for them. She laughed and told me I was learning to live for myself for the first time. What a concept.
If your friends are calling you to vent and you’re already feeling incredibly stressed, telling them you don’t have space for it is totally okay. Remind them that you love and care about them, and explain that you won’t be able to give them the attention they deserve. Most people will understand this. At the end of the day, people are selfish, and they WANT someone to listen. If that can’t be you, they would rather find someone else than get half of your attention.
If you live with roommates, make sure they understand what it looks like for you to need space. For example, when my door is closed, it means DO NOT DISTRUB. Another aspect of home life is cleanliness. Your home is a reflection of your mind. Making sure you keep your space clean is crucial to feeling relaxed. If you live alone, pick 1-2 household tasks to do every day to keep your space clean. Creating a healthy living environment will reduce stress by removing distractions.
My most impactful tip for how to avoid burnout is prioritizing self-care. Someone asked me the other day what self-care meant to me, and I realized I had a pretty cool definition of it. To me, self-care is whatever I need to do at that time that is in my best interest. It’s not necessarily what I want to do but what I need to do. I feel like people often associate the term ‘self-care’ with luxurious things like massages, shopping and getting your nails done. In reality, sometimes self-care is doing the shit you don’t want to do.
If I’ve been super depressed, self-care might look like brushing my teeth and trying to make my bed. When I was in school, self-care meant getting my homework done every night so I didn’t panic and create anxiety for myself the next day. Self-care can also look like setting boundaries with the people who are sucking the energy out of you.
Whatever it is, self-care means doing something that helps make you the best version of yourself.
Some common things I do for daily self-care include exercising or body movement, being mindful of the food I consume and meditation.
Exercise is excellent for boosting your immune system and improving mental health. Try a local yoga studio, or get fresh air by hiking, swimming, or biking. If you’re on a tight schedule, keep it simple: take the stairs instead of the elevator.
The last self-care tip is to meditate! Take 10 minutes, find a quiet place, slow your breathing, and count your inhales and exhales. Place your hand on your stomach, and feel it expand and contract as you breathe. Even if your mind is racing, this will tell your body and brain that you aren’t in danger.
Practice Organization and Time Management
Time is our most valuable asset. If you’re a business owner, you know time is money. By organizing and managing our time, we’re avoiding burnout and making more money simultaneously.
Time blocking is the best time management system I’ve ever tried. It reduces stress by allowing you to structure your day around completing essential tasks.
It starts with a brain dump. i.e., write down everything you have scheduled for the week and things you need to accomplish. List those things with the most critical tasks at the top. Write down each task on your calendar and what time you will dedicate. Ex. Tuesday, 7 pm – 7:30 pm cat cuddles.
Time blocking is a great way to ensure you have more time and opportunities and stay organized. Being late, missing deadlines and all the stress that comes with it have become a thing of the past.
If you ever feel that stress from burnout significantly affects you, help is available. Reach out to a friend, family member, or mental health professional. Options like Better Help are available 24/7 for support.
How do you help avoid and overcome burnout? Let me know in the comments below!