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Burnout: How to Recover and Prevent Burnout

It’s hard to remember when we started being ‘busy’ all the time. Yet while we take on more work and responsibilities, work longer hours, and deal with higher levels of stress, our mind and bodies pay the price. Burnout is the rock-bottom consequence of our busy lives.


Burnout is more than the daily stress we feel from work. Burnout can have serious consequences to both our physical and mental health. When we feel burnt out, we become exhausted and lose all joy we once had in our work.


These responsibilities can feel stressful at times. Therefore, allowing yourself time to take care of your mental health and explore ways to incorporate stress management techniques can be highly beneficial, both now and in the future.


The top three experiences that people with burnout invariably have include, overwhelming exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and detachment, and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.


Burnout can look like little to no motivation, amplified anxiety, exhaustion, easily triggers, emotionally overwhelmed, and insomnia.


Dr. Maslach defined three separate types of burnout in her paper, The Future of Burnout:


Individual burnout is caused by excessive negative self-talk, neurosis, and perfectionism. In other words, when you place extremely high standards on yourself or believe nothing you do is good enough.

Interpersonal burnout is caused by difficult relationships with others at work or at home. For example, an aggressive or unwelcoming boss or coworker can compound the stress you already feel at work to the point of burnout.

Organizational burnout is caused by poor organization, extreme demands, and unrealistic deadlines that make you feel like you’re missing the mark and that your job is in danger.


Considering where you are experiencing burnout and to what level of intensity, can provide a pathway to self-exploration. If you’re noticing burnout in your life, or are trying to prevent burnout, here are some practical strategies that can be incorporated into your life.


THRIVE method for preventing burnout:


T: Time Alone

Time alone has been the number one self-care shift for me. This is especially important if you are a caretaker in your professional life, and even more so if you are a caretaker in your personal life as well. It’s easy to be so outwardly focused that you lose sight of yourself in the process. True time alone helps you to reconnect to yourself. It is in your best interest to reevaluate your schedule to find even a small increment of time to be alone. Are you making the best use of your workday, or is there a way to restructure your schedule to incorporate an hour to yourself somewhere? Can you leave the workplace on your lunch break for a solo walk instead of eating at your desk? Can you adjust time at home with family to leave yourself with time to process the day? Even small moments can have a big impact.


H: Help From Others

How often do you ask for help? If you do everything yourself, never asking for outside assistance, feelings of having “too much on your plate” can arise. Think about what you can delegate and what you need from others—and then ask for it.


R: Recharge

Recharging looks different for everyone, but it is crucial to figure out what boosts your energy and what depletes it. When we’re exhausted, we often go into autopilot and end up engaging in activities that drain our energy, like mindless screen time. Start prioritizing activities that energize you.


I: Ideal Day

Try to visualize your ideal day. This vision exercise will encourage you to picture your ideal life and map out what an ordinary day would look like in that life. This exercise can provide clarity regarding the small adjustments to make, to have everyday be more “ideal” and fulfilling. Once you can picture it, the hope is that you will gain a sense of empowerment to make it happen.


V: Values Triangle

Identifying core values and narrow the list focusing on the top three core values. This exercise can provide a great deal of clarity for how you move through life. Once you have a clear understanding of your core values, this can inform adjustments made to your workload or the activities you choose to spend time with to better align with them.


E: Expectation Adjustment

Think about the expectations set for yourself, with the goal of reducing them. Reduce self-expectations to the point that they feel uncomfortably low. This may feel counter-intuitive, but this exercise can help you consider what expectations are fulfilling and serving you, and which are not. It could be helpful to start from a place of low expectations and exceed them, than to consistently feel like you’re not meeting your expectations. As you move through feelings of burnout, you can adjust your expectations to account for your mental capacity at any given time.


If you’re feeling burnt out, you’re not alone. Small shifts in mindset can help prioritize yourself and your wellbeing, making a large difference in avoiding burnout.


Please reference the article below for more information.

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