Next weekend we set our clocks back an hour and gain an hour of sleep, but that hour may not help ease those struggling with burnout. Trying to jam all the work and tasks you need to do into a shorter amount of daylight can be overwhelming. If you’re someone who feels overwhelmed and stressed, this time of year can be especially difficult. The time change signifies more family time, more gifts to purchase, and more holidays to celebrate with limited energy, time, and money.
Burnout sneaks up on you. It begins when you feel like you have given all you can give and know in your heart there is still more needed. When burnout is in its beginning stages, you feel exhausted, disillusioned, and cynical. Along with these three feelings, there are two others you may relate to:
You feel increasingly ineffective on the job.
In your work circumstances, you feel as though you cannot give up. You push yourself to continue even when you know you’re running on empty.
If you feel as though this is describing you, it’s important you begin practicing how to cope with what you’re feeling. Ignoring burnout or extreme stress can lead to physical and mental illness. Below are some suggestions will ease stress and relieve early stages of burnout if practiced daily.
You can’t afford to NOT take time for you. Take 20 minutes per day to shut down and reboot. This time is for you to pray, meditate, or daydream. Allowing your brain to rest helps lower stress and alleviates brain fog.
Breathe. Our biggest stress reliever is something we do unconsciously. Breathing slowly in and out calms your heart and respirations. You need to focus on your breath before you do anything else.
Create a helpline you can call. A helpline consists of two or three people you can call or talk with that encourage and support you. Finding people in your inner circle who are resilient and cope well with hardship offers you an anchor and sense of security when you feel overwhelmed. Including a pastor or bible study group as part of your helpline restores your sense of peace and calm.
Readjust your priorities. Why are you stressing over getting things that don’t matter done? Redefine what adds purpose and meaning to your life. What drew you to your career or the life you’re living right now? Moving forward without taking time to reflect on the reasons we’re continuing to stay on a path makes it difficult and meaningless.
Food and exercise are medicine when it comes to minimizing stress. The typical American diet is not healthy; eating comfort food and sitting on the couch when you’re feeling overwhelmed, hurried, or stressed contributes to negative thinking. How you feel about your body influences how you feel about the way you manage your life.
Devote more time to close friends and family. Good friends and close family are helpful with minimizing psychological distress and burnout. Being honest with your friends and family is an important healing factor for burnout.
Seek counseling. Be brave enough to seek counseling when you’ve reached a point where stress seems insurmountable. Depression is real, and you cannot think it away. Talking to a mental health professional will help put you back into the driver’s seat of your life.
No matter who you are, you will face hardship in life. Being able to notice the signs and being brave enough to ask for help are keys to maintaining resilience and practicing healthy coping skills when life throws you a curve ball.