Sick of being prescribed bubble baths and massages for your burnout? Same here.
(But hello, if you’re offering, my bathroom is the second door on the right, there’s Radox on the shelf, and I’ll take my massage firm, please).
So, what is burnout exactly? The official definition is ‘fatigue, frustration, or apathy resulting from prolonged stress, overwork, or intense activity’.
Still not sure if this is you (or you’re in denial)? Here are four of the most common signs of burnout.
A. Alienation from work-related activities
Individuals experiencing burnout view their jobs as increasingly stressful and frustrating. They may grow cynical about their working conditions and the people they work with. They may also emotionally distance themselves and begin to feel numb about their work.
B. Physical symptoms
Chronic stress may lead to physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomachaches or intestinal issues.
C. Emotional exhaustion
Burnout causes people to feel drained, unable to cope, and tired. They often lack the energy to get their work done.
D. Reduced performance
Burnout mainly affects everyday tasks at work — or in the home when someone’s main job involves caring for family members. Individuals with burnout feel negative about tasks. They have difficulty concentrating and often lack creativity.
The burnout experience is different for everyone, as well as what drives them to that breaking point. The traditional self-care methods aren’t going to miraculously cure your intense exhaustion or loss of your lust for life, but they may be able to provide some relief momentarily, even if it’s just to take your mind off how rubbish you feel.
1. Power naps
Rest is the most obvious remedy for burnout, but not always easily attainable, especially if kids are in the mix.
If you are working from home and have 30 mins to take a nap, sometimes breaking that negative pattern of thoughts, can relieve some of the pressure you’re putting on yourself.
The optimum power nap duration is 20 minutes, the extra 10 just allows the time it takes to settle yourself and fall asleep.
If you’re not tired enough to nap, just commit to setting your alarm for 20-30 mins and lay down or sit in a comfy chair and do nothing. No music, phone or TV. Just peace and quiet (if you can get it).
2. Owning your day
You need to decide what time and how your day starts and ends. This will differ for those that work at home compared to those who work in an office, or another type of workplace.
Some people like to start their day with exercise, others do it on a lunch break and some prefer to exercise at night.
Regardless of how you start your day, you need to ensure it’s on your own terms and as much as possible, that you’re up at the same time every day.
Likewise, your bedtime should be the same each day.
I understand that some people may work different shifts, some people have small children that determine how their evenings go. But as much as you can, roughly the same bedtime each night is greatly beneficial.
3. Having a support network
We all need support.
Nobody has ever accomplished great things on their own. They always had help from people around them, whether that be their team or people they love and trust.
You should never feel ashamed of asking for help when you need it.
If you feel like you’re struggling or just overwhelmed, ask for a hand. There’s no reason to struggle alone.
You need to schedule self-care into your calendar like it’s a meeting or customer call. It shouldn’t be seen as a treat or a reward.
Creating intentional habits and rituals that are part of your daily life and weekly routine, will ensure that you have the base to feel better mentally and emotionally.
This means that when you are faced with stressful situations or challenges, you’ll have the capacity to cope with these better rather than it leading to you falling apart or hitting burnout.
5. Checking in
It’s important to treat burnout, but have you asked yourself how you got here?
Sometimes we’re on autopilot and doing all of the things we need to do, setting great expectations and finding ourselves frazzled.
You may need to ask yourself some tough questions. Do you still love what you do? Can you manage your workload better? Is it still bringing you joy?
If you’re no longer happy and fulfilled in what you do, maybe it’s time to check in with your values and where you’re headed.
Did you know hugging someone (preferably someone you know), helps to lower your blood pressure, reduce stress, boost self-esteem, increase serotonin levels, and can even help reduce pain?
Yep, pretty special.
7. Blackout Sundays
No, not the partying-all-night-and-passing-out kind. The turn-off-all-notifications-and-leave-your-bloody-phone-at-home kind. I know. Shock horror!
Think you could handle it?
I dare you to try to go the whole day without a selfie or an Insta shot of your brunch. Practice being in the moment with whoever you’re with or on your own, and be fully aware of what’s happening around you and right in front of you.
No distractions, no dings, no cheeky Tinder texts, nothing.
8. Green exercise
Research shows that even five minutes of exercising in nature can drastically improve your mood.
This is not only due to the fresh air you’re surrounded by and the obvious benefits of moving your body, but actually being near greenery has a positive impact on your health.
You don’t even necessarily need to go bush, just being in a park will do it.
Ah, yes, the cure for so many things. It’s a great remedy for stress relief as it increases epinephrine, oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin.
These are all linked to behaviour, your mood and general wellbeing.
It’s also known for the ability to find calmness and let’s face it, it’s a great distraction from that epic to-do list too if you need it.
10. Hot kava
A root from the kava plant, it’s known for its anesthetic and sedative powers. If you’ve tried relaxing teas, there’s a chance you may have had it before.
Areas of the South Pacific have used kava for stress release, mood elevation, and other calming effects.
Studies have shown that kava is effective in treating tension and anxiety and is safe to consume.
Let’s not sugarcoat this
Burnout can be tough.
It can be quite isolating and hard to believe that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but there is.
The most important thing you can do for yourself is rest.
I know how tempting it is to push through given the enormity of the work we have to do as business owners, but this will only make things worse.
Recovery can be long and treacherous, so be aware of the signs, and take immediate action.
Your business won’t work if you’re broken. Go gently with yourself.