Prevent Burnout with these 3 Simple Actions
By definition, #burnout is a condition experienced by workers, professionals, business owners, and entrepreneurs, in which they develop depression-like symptoms as a result of the ongoing stress related to their job or workplace. Some more recent research suggests that later stage of burnout closely resemble symptoms of PTSD.
And more broadly, burnout is a common phenomena in today's modern workplace. Add on top of this the shutdowns and work-from-home shuffle as a result of COVID-19 and we've got real conditions for people to be experiencing extra work-related stress.
The thing that strikes me about burnout is that it doesn't happen overnight, like a big shock, and it doesn't go away over the weekend. It's more of a steady wearing down as burnout sets in over a period of time, anywhere from months to years depending on the nature of your work and organization with which you work for.
So with that, I've got 3 simple actions that will help you create breathing room from work-related stress and to create space from the long-term conditions that produce burnout.
1) GO FOR A WALK: I know this sounds too simple, but setting down work for a short 15 min stroll around the block can do wonders for your mental health, your physical health and your over all well-being. Walking takes us out of the aspects of our brains that are focused on tasks and task completion. Walking gets us out of the environment in which we work and this change of scenery is often welcomed when you need that short breather from work.
More specifically, walking stimulates our brains bi-laterally, which means both hemispheres need to be functioning equally. This gets us out of the rut associated with the left-brain dominant aspects of our working lives of getting all those tasks done.
While you are on your walk, be sure to look around. Re-orient to being outside and move your head in it's full rotation. Look up, look over to the side, look down, look over to the other side and then back up again. This wires our brains to reorient to the new environment and helps us set down and forget for a moment the worry and busyness of all those tasks and left-brain thinking.
If you can't go for a walk at your place of work for whatever reasons specific to your situation, try going for a walk before you leave in the morning to head to work and also when you arrive home. A simple stroll can be profoundly helpful in creating the space needed to set work down for the day before going home.
2) TAKE A DEEP BREATH: Breathing exercises can have a profound impact to our nervous system, which in turn helps manage our levels of stress. Even when you find yourself not too stressed at work, try taking a few deep breaths. When you notice yourself getting stressed at work, be sure to remind yourself to take a few deep breaths.
Again, this is all very simple advice, but it works.
A simple exercise would be to find a place of quite, soften your gaze as you inhale fully through your nose. Pause briefly at the top of your inhale, then exhale out of your mouth. Repeat a few times. You can also place your hand on your chest as you breath. However you are feeling is simply OK and breathing helps to bring it down a notch.
We are doing something good for ourselves when we notice our breath and take a moment to really breath mindfully.
3) TAKE SOME TIME OFF: taking some time off and getting away for something fun and adventurous is critical to our mental health and well-being. I can't emphasis this enough, take some time off. It doesn't need to be something extravagant or far reaching, just an adventure away.
My take on burnout is that the left-brain becomes really dominant and stuck in a groove. We then become addicted to being busy and staying on top of things, only to maintain and increase our levels of stress, which can lead to burnout overtime.
Getting out and experiencing the world can shake things up just enough for us to escape the grind of modern daily living. I like to frame this as "new places and new faces", we can really look outwardly in a new place as well as meeting new people. This newness keeps things alive, more interesting, more refreshing. Activating the right side of our brain that is wired to be creative, adaptive, in the moment.
Each of these 3 actions are simple to do, but also so simple that's its fairly easy not to do them. Some of my clients put an event in their calendar to create the time to get a walk in. Some of my clients meet up with co-workers to have accountability. Whatever helps you create the time and follow through, be sure to stick to it.
Thanks for reading and I hope you found value for your everyday life.
Stay tuned for more articles and insights.