How to Recover From Burnout
It doesn’t matter what your occupation, passion, or project is; the human mind has limits to stress and productivity. When those limits are stressed even the things, you once enjoyed can leave you dreading getting up the next day to do it again.
Your performance can suffer, and if it’s a previously-loved hobby, you can even give up altogether. If any of these situations sound familiar, you’ve likely experienced or are experiencing burnout. This is a mental state brought on by too much exposure to emotionally draining or stressful situations. The stress can be either internal or external.
We’re here to give you some tips on how to recover from burnout and get your drive and passion back for your work or personal projects.
Many of the changes we recommend have to do with engaging in self-care and knowing your limits. Others focus on changing your environment. Self-care is vital to recovering from burnout because your body has to recover for your mind to follow suit.
First, take a look at your diet. Are you getting enough real nutrients or are you spending a little too much time in fast food drive-thru windows to save time? Your body, and by extension your brain, is like a car: it needs proper fuel. Empty carbs and preservatives won’t do the trick. You might feel full, but you aren’t really getting the nourishment you need.
If you aren’t getting enough calories and nutrients, your brain can’t function effectively, which can lead to burnout. You need to have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Consult your doctor for your specific healthcare needs.
Another thing you need to do is drink plenty of water. Skip the soda and other caffeine; they can make you jittery and stressed, further contributing to burnout.
Another way to recover from burnout is to start getting enough sleep. Although everyone’s needs are different, you should probably aim for around eight hours of sleep per night. Chronic lack of sleep causes you to be stressed, irritable, to make poor judgments, and to be fatigued overall. Burnout is partially characterized by sickness and lack of energy.
Avoid caffeine for about three hours before bedtime, and shut off your screen half an hour beforehand, If you have trouble sleeping, wear a sleep mask to filter out blue light from TVs or laptop screens.
Regular exercise, even if it’s just a half-hour of light cardio each day, can provide immense health benefits. Exercise gets your blood flowing and ensures that your brain gets all the nutrients it needs. Contributing factors to stress and burnout are the body not getting what it needs.
If you work a desk job, take a brisk walk during your lunch break if you can. Periodically stand up to stretch. Even small moments can add up when used properly.
Even if it’s as simple as taking ten minutes a day to practice deep-breathing exercises, meditation can be a wonderful tool when you’re figuring out how to recover from burnout. Meditation helps to ground you in the moment and clear your mind of unnecessary stress.
You can download meditation apps for your phone, but if you prefer to do things low-tech, just sit back in your chair, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Allow yourself to experience each of your senses in turn, and note exactly what you’re feeling or thinking. Don’t dwell on your thoughts; let them float through your mind.
If you have toxic coworkers or management and all measures to curb the toxicity have failed, ask if you can transfer to a different department. In extreme circumstances, the whole job environment itself could be toxic, and you’d be better off leaving. Toxic behavior includes, but is not limited to:
If you have to leave a toxic environment to recover from burnout, don’t feel bad about it. Loyalty may have once been rewarded, but it isn’t the most valuable asset you can have in today’s job environment.
Everyone sometimes needs a change of scenery. If you’re fortunate enough to have a job that offers paid time off, take advantagµe of it. It doesn’t necessarily mean to go to Disneyland, but try to get away from your work and hometown for your vacation. Changing your surroundings, even temporarily, can help you recover from burnout and come back with fresh energy.
Even if you can’t leave for a whole week or two -for example, in many service sector jobs that don’t provide benefits - you can try to take a day out of town on and off day. Retail and fast food are two industries in which people regularly suffer burnout.
This isn’t just a work-related burnout fix, but a personal one as well. If you’re a creative person like a writer or artist who feels burned out on a particular project, set it aside and go work on something else. By doing so, just as by getting away from work, you allow your brain to switch gears and come back with a fresh set of thoughts and ideas. Keep a diary of ideas to work on.
Having non-work related acquaintances is a vital part of your mental health and is a critical step in learning how to recover from burnout. If you have no family or friends outside of work, the entire spectrum of your social interactions is filtered through your mutual experiences at work. By having friends outside this circle, you can distance yourself from your job.
If you have hobbies, look for local groups and gatherings. If you’re an artist, you can usually find groups, especially if you’re a performing artist. Social media can work to your advantage here because it makes a much easier tsk out of finding local friends, Just don’t overdo social media because offline connection and socializing is vital even to an introverted person.
If you and your co-workers socialize outside of work hours, the group could make a policy or rule that states that none of you discuss work-related topics outside of work. It’s a way of distancing yourself from the job. It’s still a good idea to find multiple circles of friends and acquaintances. People who have more friends tend to be happier and to live longer than lonelier people.
As difficult as this task might be, it’s vital if you want to recover from or are trying to prevent going into burnout. For all we’re expected to work and be always available to take on the next big project, there’s only so much we can do in a given day. It’s one reason why the 8-hour workday was conceived.
Even the 8-hour day is seen as excessive, with 6 hours per workday being more accepted by many experts. Whatever your workday is, you need to make it a priority to keep work at work and keep home at home. Do not blend the two environments unless you work from home. In this case, have an office devoted specifically to work, Turn off your phone or do not accept calls after work hours.
Some countries plan to make it illegal for employers to contact employees outside of work hours. Do your best to find a job that provides a predictable, fair schedule. Service jobs are notorious for intruding on employees’ work-life balance by changing schedules.
These are a few basic things you can do to prevent or recover from professional or personal burnout. It’s not an exhaustive list, and not all the tips are applicable in all situations. We understand that some jobs are not as accommodating or understanding of human needs as others, but we hope that our list has been some help.
Just as burnout likely crept up on you slowly without you realizing it, the time it takes to heal may be equally long. You may also need to take more drastic steps. If, for example, you take a vacation and come back with the feelings of burnout still present, you may need to switch jobs or careers entirely. You may also need to seek advice from a counselor or a support group.