Worried you may be experiencing burnout? Try these 10 simple ways to start putting your wellbeing first and rediscover your passion
Feeling stressed, anxious, worried, frustrated, or helpless can happen at any time. If you are experiencing burnout, or want to start on the path towards a healthier, happier, more relaxed lifestyle, remember: you will have both bad days and good days.
Feeling negative today doesn’t mean that you’ve stopped making progress, or that things will get worse. Recovering from burnout is a slow process, not a race. As long as you keep facing the things that are impacting your emotional and physical wellbeing, you are working towards making positive changes.
We share 10 ways you can work towards overcoming burnout, rediscover your passion, and focus on your health and wellbeing.
Discover your stressors and challenge them
Have a bit of a mind-dump on a piece of paper or a word document. Write down everything you can think of that is making you feel stressed, anxious, uneasy or unsure. You don’t have to think of everything in one go; this can be a work in progress. As new things crop up or come to mind, continue to jot them down. Keeping them all in one place can not only help you to face these issues, but it can be a good reminder of how far you have come.
Next to each problem or issue, jot down any ways you can think of that could be changed to help either reframe this, or to make it feel less daunting. Maybe a certain monthly report has you dreading the end of each month.
Could you work on it in weekly increments instead? Could you share the load with someone else in your team? Perhaps the report itself is too big, or not as relevant as it could be – could you talk to anyone about how it could be optimised to save time for everyone, and to make it more helpful?
Try not to get frustrated if you can't see immediate results. Many of the things that have built on your stress didn't happen overnight; so neither will their solutions. Aim to steadily introduce small, positive changes to your routine. This can make them easier to stick to, while helping you to feel less overwhelmed by too much change.
Do you know the difference between stress and burnout? Discover the signs and symptoms of burnout you need to look out for.
Learn to manage (and share) the load
Practising saying no can be hard, but if you’re recovering from burnout, taking on new commitments and responsibilities can add unnecessary stress and strain. Try and assess if this is something you really need to do, of it it’s something someone else on your team could work on.
Knowing you may be able to do something quicker or in more detail shouldn’t mean you always say yes. By sharing the load, you not only look after your own wellbeing, but it can open up opportunities to share knowledge and allow colleagues to experience responsibilities they may not usually undertake.
Build in breathing space
Not only in your everyday routine, but in between big projects. Burnout puts your body and mind in a weakened, more vulnerable state. Jumping from one big, stressful project to another doesn’t give you time to rest, unwind, and mentally prepare yourself for what’s next.
Building in pockets of time to breathe, relax and let your mind wander in your daily routine can also be a good way to squeeze in time to unwind and take stock of your how you feel at regular points through the day.
Try to take a moment if you can as part of your pre and post work routine; this can help you to identify any upcoming stressors or worries, as well as to reflect on how you feel about your day.
Not at the point of burnout yet, but looking for help? Discover four simple ways to avoid burnout.
Disconnect from your devices
Whether it’s endlessly scrolling due to FOMO, constantly snapping new pics to put your best face forward to friends and colleagues, or logging back on just for one more email, we all spend an astonishing amount of time on our phones, tablets and computers.
Set yourself some limits and have some screen-free time to breathe, relax, and spend quality time with friends, family or loved ones. It may feel like we need to keep up and only show our best possible selves on social media, but we can’t be on 24/7. Give yourself the space and time to be present in the moment, enjoy the quiet, and unplug from your devices.
‘Just don’t take your work home’ sounds easy in theory, but it’s not always possible. What everyone can do is to set healthy, clear boundaries about how much work they will do outside of the office.
Answering the odd email here and there may not seem like such a big deal, but if you find yourself scrolling through your inbox over dinner or can’t remember where the last hour’s gone since sitting down to answer just one quick message, you may need to rebalance your workload.
If you can, try to keep work within work hours. See if you can take time back in lieu if it regularly spills outside of your nine to five. If you can’t get your workload done during the workweek, something has gone wrong and you need to redress the balance. You need time to rest, recover and relax away from work pressures and worries. Without this, you risk burning out even quicker.
Focus on the journey, not the destination
When you’re facing a long, daunting road ahead, looking to the final outcome – banishing the burnout and feeling your best – can feel like the only thing that keeps you going. But by focusing only on the final results, it can be easy to forget all of the time spent getting there. The small wins, the knock-backs you manage to work through, the time and energy spent working towards feeling less stressed and more able to cope.
Be kind to yourself. Start focusing on how you can improve your routine, how you are feeling today compared to yesterday, and not just on how you hope to feel three, six or 12 months from now. Getting better isn’t a race; it’s a work in progress.
(Re)discover your passion
Burnout can make your love and passion for something lose its meaning. Leaving you feeling physically exhausted, emotionally depleted, and open to every bug going around, recovering from burnout can leave your previous passion feeling tainted, or you may feel nervous about looking to embrace new interests.
As you work towards recovering from burnout, your new-found self-awareness about your own physical and mental limitations and new wellbeing boundaries should help you feel more prepared to revisit past passions or take on new challenges.
Be gentle with yourself and approach things calmly. Discover the right path for you as you go. You don’t need to have all of the answers at once.
Be your own measure of success
One of the biggest frustrations with burnout can be feeling like you are slipping. No matter how much time or effort you put in to things, it feels like everyone else is passing you by, you’ll never be able to catch up and re-manage your workload. Now’s the time to focus on yourself. Don’t get caught up in comparisons. Use yourself as a benchmark for how you are changing, growing, and progressing. You do you.
Redefine what you want
Do you know what you want next? Have you taken the time to consider if the role (or career) you are currently in is still what you really want? Have you considered your other options? If there are parts of your job where there isn’t a way around the stress, or if you’re struggling to find a balance that works for you after trying many options, it could be a sign to take a look elsewhere.
Finding a different path or shifting career goals might not be the path for you. Try approaching your employer about flexi-hours if your family life and work schedule cause conflicts or avoidable stress; ask if you can potentially work reduced hours or job share if you love your work but need more time away to explore other passions, interests or side-hustles; or see if you could work remotely when things get hectic.
Consider talking to an expert
A counsellor can help you get to the root of your work-related stress. With the help of an outside perspective, a counsellor can provide a professional, non-judgemental space where you can explore the difficulties you have been experiencing, understand what may have been causing your stress, and discover steps you can take to overcome these problems.
Career counselling is another option that can help you identify exactly what you want from your career and guide you towards the resources that can help you find a job or placement that fits with your goals.
A life coach could be able to help you achieve a better work/life balance. Tailoring their advice and guidance to help you, they can help you to better understand your feelings, recognise and set your own goals, and signpost the next steps you can take towards making big life changes.
A coach can help you to identify problems that you may not have realised, and help you to change counterproductive behaviours and habits, as well as empowering you to improve your confidence and self-belief.
With the help of a professional, you can learn to recognise and tackle the signs of burnout, set healthy boundaries, and feel confident to speak up when you begin feeling overwhelmed. They can introduce you to healthy stress coping strategies, while sharing small tips and ways in which you can improve your effectiveness at work and at home.