Sometimes the stresses of life can take their toll on us. After all, we are living in an increasingly hectic world and when trying to balance so much – from a demanding career to raising a family – it’s not a surprise that mental burnout makes its presence known. What is burnout? Well, it’s a reaction or prolonged response to chronic stress and can result in a number of nasty outcomes, such as exhaustion, anxiety, and a sense of being ineffective in the workplace. These are certainly things we would all want to avoid. But how can we do so? Well, in this guide we are going to present a few helpful tips to utilise in your mission to combat mental burnout and achieve a healthy lifestyle.
First things first, it’s important to realise that if you are struggling with burnout, that you are not alone. Remember that you are by no means the only person who is dealing with this and hopefully such a realisation will put a halt to any feelings of hopelessness or isolation about what you are experiencing. As a result, there are plentiful resources available, from books to blogs, people are sharing their experiences so that you can learn from them. The next step would be to talk to someone about what you are going through. Whether this is family and friends or in a professional capacity like a life coach, therapist, or physician, it’s important to share and get help when needed. You must not suffer in silence.
As with any issue in life, you must discover the source of the problem before you can begin the process of tackling it. So, try and take a step back, speak to someone you are comfortable with and think about what it is that is causing you to burnout. Are you having to deal with an unreasonable workload at your job? Do you have too many responsibilities during your personal life that you can’t realistically cope with alone? Burnout is different for everyone. We all have different circumstances and lifestyles. Think hard about this, it might be obvious to you but try and decipher just what the root cause is and then you will be well placed to find a solution.
An important part of fighting the effects of burnout and from preventing its arrival in the future is to make time for yourself. If you are suffering from burnout, think about if you can allocate any free time where you can either spend time alone or do things that you enjoy away from work and other commitments. From engaging in hobbies and enjoying regular leisure time with family to exercising, these are all wonderful ways that you can de-stress and maintain a healthy balance in your life. We mustn’t be afraid to pamper ourselves now and then. Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for looking after. Arranging regular conferences and events in Cheshire’s Mottram Hall would certainly help! Taking care of business and then enjoy a relaxing spa break afterwards would be an ideal way to relax after a busy professional engagement. There are many options available to us, find what’s right for you and schedule yourself some well deserved ‘me time’.
Jennifer Rojas from Mommybites – a helpful parenting resource – described to us the importance of carving out time for yourself when you have a busy career and family life: “It's critical but very difficult. If you don't, then you can end up taking your work frustrations out on your family or even simply burn out. Grab ‘me time’ any way you can - even if it's something small like taking time after everyone else has gone to sleep to kick back and watch a silly TV show.
“Remember that unless you are a doctor, most work is not so mission-critical that you cannot allow yourself time for you and your family. Remember that your ‘inbox’ will never be empty, and get more comfortable with that by prioritizing tasks for your work. Set boundaries on your time where you are working/not working.”
“We live in a world of work that values productivity rather than looking after ourselves. But if we don’t, as they say on flights, ‘put your own mask on before you put the mask on of the child next to you’, you are good to nobody including yourself. What are your favourite ways to make time for yourself? What kind of time renews you the most? Is it sleep? Snuggling on the sofa with your partner? Meditation? Taking the car for a spin? Hurling yourself down a mountainside on a mountain bike? Make a list and make them happen by scheduling them in and keeping your commitment to yourself. When you do, your mood changes and everyone around you will be thankful for your relaxed, playful self-coming out. It’s a cliché for a reason, but we are human beings and not human doings. So, give yourself permission and make time for yourself a habit for life.”
Jessica from the minimal lifestyle blog Jessica Rose Williams says that making time for oneself is essential if you want any chance o combatting effects of burnout: “Every aspect of my life, including my relationships, mirror the one I have with myself. I’m no good to anyone unless I’m taking excellent care of myself first. The better nick I’m in both mentally and physically, the happier I feel and that requires taking the time I need to look after myself.”
How does Jessica go about it? Well, she offered some top tips that those of us who are feeling the pressure can look to incorporate: “Think about what you enjoy the most and then unashamedly give yourself permission to indulge in it. Take a look around and consider what is serving you and what isn’t, it might be time for a good declutter to make some space for calm, clarity and reflection. It can feel easier to carry on struggling but you’ll thank yourself for taking the time you deserve to hit reset later. I’ve been practising doing just one thing at a time lately. I’m focusing on doing one thing well before moving onto the next instead of trying to do a million different things at the same time. Although it can feel difficult, I feel much calmer and I’m sure it’s making me more productive.
Thinking about one’s career and how you feel about it is another vital step in counteracting mental burnout. If this is an area that is causing you undue stress and anxiety, think about why this might be. Again, speak to someone else if needed (it never hurts) and try to figure out how you really feel about your job. Does your career excite and interest you? Is your workplace a supportive one? Are you working too many hours? These are all good questions to ask yourself. If you are someone who is constantly worrying about work, even during your free time, try to think about why this is, ways that you can avoid doing so, and consider what steps need to be taken.
Ros Toynbee from The Career Coach and Ros Toynbee Coaching spoke to us about tips she suggests for combating mental burnout as it regards to a person’s career:
“Notice if the amount of challenge you are experiencing is disproportionately high compared to the level of support you need to do your job. Actions: to think deeply about the support you need (training, coaching, help with prioritising workload and resources) to do your job well and to ask clearly for what you need. The worst thing you can do is keep your head down and keep working, hoping that things will change. Honest communication, however, about the type of support you need on the other hand usually takes you one step closer to receiving it.
“Play to your strengths where you can. What do you enjoy about your job, and what drains or make you anxious? Make a note of the latter tasks. Can these be ditched, delegated or systematised in some way so they can be done more quickly and easily? If your role drains you because none of what you do interests or energises you, there may be a disconnect between your role and you. It might be time to consider a switch of role or organisation and get the support of a trusted friend or coach to help you.
“Watch yourself talk. Do you have a constant sense of not being good enough, not being successful enough? Is your work style to default in saying ‘yes I’ll do that’ even though you already have too much on your plate? Actions:
- Be self-compassionate.
- Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend with love and care.
- Remind yourself you are doing enough – and are enough (or you wouldn’t have landed this job).
- Do what you can.
- Give up being perfect: it doesn’t exist.
- Never say yes to something until you have checked that you have enough time to do it.
- Remember that ‘No’ is a complete sentence. Whoever is asking may be surprised if you start changing the habit of a lifetime, but they’ll usually go ‘okay, I’ll see if Jane can do it’.
“Take breaks in your day. You aren’t paid for a lunch break and you should take time away from your desk to re-charge. The work will still be there when you come back but a 10-minute walk around the block will revive you and give you clear thinking for the rest of the afternoon. Try movement of any sort, whether that’s going for a run or a few stretches. Take two minutes just to breathe and be mindful of your thoughts and feelings. And when the day is done, give yourself transition time, read a book, watch Netflix or simply do nothing, so that you can give your partner, your children and yourself your full attention when you get home. Also, refuse to answer emails after a certain time at night or before 8 am in the morning to give your mind and body a chance to relax and get a good night’s sleep.”
Another question to ask yourself would be: are you getting enough sleep? A healthy sleep schedule is very important and provides us with many helpful benefits through various aspects of our lives. If you are depriving yourself of sleep, working too late or not prioritising this part of your health, any exhaustion you are feeling in other areas will certainly be exasperated. Having a regular night time routine is a very sensible idea, getting a 7-9 hours’ sleep as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation, making sure you are sleeping at home more often than not, and trying to relax before heading to bed will all reap benefits and help you in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You can’t expect to operate at full capacity during the day if you are not getting the requisite amount of sleep.
The team at the Alaska Sleep Clinic, an independent facility for sleeping disorders and a fountain of knowledge, spoke to us about the importance of a good night’s sleep for those suffering from mental burnout:
“You are getting ready for a big meeting at work. You are expected to give a key presentation. Because this is an important meeting you might bring your work home and work into the late hours to complete your presentation. The next day you feel groggy and less productive. Your presentation goes okay but it could have been better. While you might think working is more important than sleeping, it is not.
“Getting a good night’s sleep is the first step to preventing job burnout. You will be more productive, more accurate, focused, and ready to work. You will be able to balance your work and home life and be able to enjoy both more. With sleep, you will be more creative and energized. You will be able to face whatever challenges you run into during your day. Being happier and more in control at work will cause you not to have a job burnout. In fact, with everything you are doing, you might even end up with a promotion after turning your life around. So be sure to get a good night’s sleep tonight and face your day with a smile.”
- Realise that you are not alone/talk to someone
- Discover the source of the problem
- Make time for yourself
- Think about your career
- Prioritise sleep
We hope the above tips and advice have been helpful to you. Try enacting some of the above and make sure your friends and family know about what you are experiencing. No matter the cause, there is a way out and there is no need to suffer alone. Whether you decide to speak to a professional, change up your career, or simply make more time yourself with regular pampering sessions or spa weekends with friends, there’s no reason you can’t show mental burnout the door and achieve a healthy lifestyle.