How to Overcome Burnout in All Facets of Life (Career, Parenting, Caregiving, School, Fitness) by Dr. Haley Perlus
Burnout is on the rise. A recent report from Indeed found that 52 percent of all workers are feeling burned out. Burnout is a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress. Burnout is prevalent and can result from overly demanding expectations, lack of control, lack of social support, taking on more than one can handle at work, school or interpersonally with family and friends, or poor self-care, among other causes.
Burnout can affect the quality of life and well-being in various negative ways. Here's some help:
1. How to Overcome/Prevent Burnout at Your Job
To overcome/prevent burnout at your job, first, identify what you can change. For example, learning how to say no at work when you are working on multiple tasks simultaneously can help lessen stress and frustration. Evaluating your commitments, setting boundaries and learning when to turn down requests will help you get the rest you need to give yourself and others your best.
Setting personal and professional boundaries is essential to bounce back from burnout because if you feel taken advantage of or disempowered by your relationships, your self-esteem is impacted. Low self-esteem affects stress levels, health and personal relationships. Clear communication is key in setting boundaries that empower yourself, give you more control, reduce stress and put you on the road to better well-being.
2. How to Overcome/Prevent Burnout As a Parent
Recovery can take two forms. One form is practicing stillness. Stillness techniques include, but are not limited to, meditation, deep breathing, sleep (including naps) and simple quiet time. Even just one minute of quality deep breathing can renew emotional energy.
Variety is the second form of recovery that can treat and prevent burnout. Variety essentially offers you an opportunity to recover from one task while engaging in another task that requires a different type of energy. For example, physical activity provides positive stress for your body while creating wonderful recovery for your emotions and mind. Stepping away from your computer for 10 minutes and folding laundry while listening to calming, peaceful and happy music can provide mental recovery. If you take advantage of it, your mind will escape from the computer and the music will help with emotional recovery (as long as you don’t focus on the pressure of getting chores down and, instead, enjoy crossing laundry off the list while enjoying your favorite music).
No matter what recovery (i.e. stillness and variety) you choose for yourself today, take everything one step at a time, and make small changes along the way. Tiny changes can have a ripple effect that eventually leads to significant results in your overall health.
3. How to Overcome/Prevent Burnout As a Caregiver
When taking care of a family member, friend or loved one, most of the sympathy tends to go to the person who is ill or infirmed. Many forget the emotional and physical toll that being a caregiver can present. More than 40 million adults in North America are taking care of elderly, chronically ill or disabled loved ones, according to Pew Research Center. Signs of burnout can include, but are not limited to: depression, fatigue, anxiety about the future, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, hopelessness and other symptoms.
Although being a caregiver is never easy, there are some things you can do to make it more manageable. Ask for help whenever possible, whether paying a professional or calling upon a friend or family member. Don’t skip your own medical appointments. If you are not well, you are not in a position to care for someone else. Check policies for family leave benefits at work. Don’t feel like you have to keep a constant vigil by their bedside, especially if you know they tend to nap or sleep at times of the day. Use those times for some self-care and pampering. Speak to other caregivers you know to get tips on managing, or speak with the attending physician or hospital social worker.
4. How to Overcome/Prevent Burnout As a Student
To overcome burnout as a student, set reasonable goals. Write a to-do list each day of assignments that need to get done and note their due dates. Use daily reminders and calendars to stay motivated to achieve deadlines. Set aside time and pencil in time to practice mindfulness. Time away from your obligations is just as important as time spent fulfilling your obligations. Practice self-care to reduce stress and let your mind relax. Celebrate small wins along the way and keep the end goal in mind. Think big picture: one bad grade does not determine your future.
5. How to Overcome/Prevent Burnout From Working Out
If you over-train and don’t allow your body to fully recover, you are likely to experience workout burnout. Also, boredom will kick in if you stay with the same fitness routine over a long period. If you over-train, you are more susceptible to injuries that can take you out of your routine and make it harder to “jump back in.” Setting fitness goals that are realistic for your age, level of condition and work/personal schedule is critical.
Many athletes or “weekend warriors” feel guilty if they take a break from training. It is wise to take off two days a week. There is a reason for the term “stress fracture.” While weight training is great for improving bone density and high-impact workouts are excellent for cardio, your bones get stressed, which can lead to fractures. Don’t obsess over numbers, reps, inches, etc. Focus more on how you feel after the workout mentally and physically. Switch up your workouts so that you don’t reach an exercise plateau. If you need to, get a fitness buddy, change your workout environment, the music you listen to, or treat yourself to some new workout gear.
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