Psychologists define burnout as the psychological response to chronic stressors, leaving those who experience the syndrome feeling exhausted, detached from their work and a lack of accomplishment. Finding extra time in your schedule to devote to your mental health may seem daunting, but there are simple things you can do to re-energize and refocus yourself and combat burnout
Find Time for Physical Activity
Healthy habits like eating well, drinking plenty of water and exercise can go a long way for your mental well-being. Even if you can accommodate 15 to 20 minutes a day, physical activity decreases stress and anxiety and helps to improve sleep and concentration.
Get Some Fresh Air
Fresh air and a change of scenery can give you a dose of vitamin D, improve your concentration and reduce stress. To stimulate your brain, consider taking 15 to 30 minutes out of your day to go for a brisk walk.
Stay focused for longer by working in incremental periods and budgeting in break time. Periodic breaks can help strengthen your concentration and sustain your focus in the long run. For example, choose a task you would like to get done and set a timer for 25 minutes to begin working on it. When the timer ends, do something else for 5 to 10 minutes before resetting the timer for another 25 minutes and continue working. After every four intervals of 25 minutes, take a longer break for 20 or 30 minutes.
As tempting as it is to check your email every waking moment, set a specific time when you power down for the day. Put your phone on do not disturb mode, set screen time limits for distracting apps, or simply plug in your phone and computer across the room when you’re done for the night. Another thing to keep in mind is to pick a time and space to work that is separate from the space you use to relax and fill it with something you enjoy. Additionally, be realistic about the workload you can handle. Taking on extra assignments, activities and obligations may feel productive in the moment, but can stretch you too thin and cause you to burnout.
Taking a few minutes for mindfulness when you feel yourself getting overwhelmed can be a game changer. The best part is you don’t even have to move from your desk. Start with a few simple breathing exercises like the 4-7-8 method. For this exercise, simply close your eyes, breathe in for four counts, hold the breath for seven counts and exhale for eight counts. If you’re looking for a longer and guided meditation, there are a wide variety of websites and apps with mindfulness courses to fit your needs.
Talk to Someone
Burnout can usher in feelings of loneliness and inadequacy, and you may feel it seeping into your work performance and social life. Talking to a professional can help you address this and work to alleviate the burden of these emotions monopolizing your time and mental space.
As you can see, burnout can be avoided by making self-care part of your daily routine. Even if you’re working long hours, studying for exams, or taking care of young children, remember to sprinkle some joy into each day. Small self-care gestures can stop stress from turning into something more serious, like burnout.