Burnout - What is it, and what can you do about it?
There’s been a lot of talk about ‘Burnout’ over the last year, but so much of what we hear about how to deal with this emotional and physical burden, should it affect you or a loved one, is incredibly unhelpful and quite frankly, unrealistic.
When faced with this sort of all-encompassing exhaustion, the obvious solution might be to ‘take a nap’ (yes, this was really something we’ve seen suggested), not let extrinsic factors such as financial burden stress you out (if only!) and ‘take more time for you’.
But in reality, most of us who wind up experiencing burnout have ended up there because these solutions are not an option. We’re busy parents, juggling work and home-schooling. We’re key workers, frightened and tired. We’re isolated from our family, or cooped up with them, and shouldering immense responsibility, in many cases.
So what can we do to help ourselves avoid, and recover from burnout? We asked Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Hypnosis, Time Line Therapy®, Positive Psychology & Coach Trainer, Rebecca Lockwood (www.RebeccaLockwood.org.uk), for her realistic advice.
What is burnout?
Burnout happens to everyone. If you are pushing yourself too far and not being mindful of what is happening to you physically, emotionally, mentally and energetically you are going to experience burn out whoever you are. Burnout is when we feel drained – you can feel sick (this could be a constant cold, cough etc.) or you just feel run down all of the time. You may lose interest in what you are doing easily and feel too tired to do much.
Kloris founder, Kim, recently listened to a podcast where a male entrepreneur gave the advice of "just taking naps in the middle of the day" - he clearly isn't juggling kids and work simultaneously! Do you have any 'real world' tips for avoiding burnout?
This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Mainly because burnout isn't about needing more sleep or being tired always. It is a mental mindset and energy burn, this doesn’t always mean sleep. Sleep certainly plays a role, you do have to be mindful of looking after yourself and nourishing your body in terms of rest, food and fluids but more sleep isn’t necessarily the answer and could potentially leave you feeling worse. Instead:
- Give yourself boundaries. When does work start and begin, and allow yourself to switch off during the times you are not working. Especially now people are working from home, splitting up the day or space in your home can really help to set these boundaries energetically for you.
- Avoid distractions. If you work for yourself get another work phone so you are not being contacted all of the time during non working hours and leave it in a drawer during non work hours. You need to ensure you are not reacting to people constantly, as this alone can have huge impacts on your energy and the way you feel.
- If you use social media for work, avoid it during non working hours. Remove social media apps from your non working devices. It’s too easy to switch back into work mode during non working hours if you have notifications pinging up at you from social media.
- Turn off notifications on your phone. This will help as you are not constantly being pulled into different directions. Your energy balance can end up being all over the place when you are constantly getting pinged at.
Mindset - What are you thinking on a daily basis?
Fuel - What are you fuelling yourself with?
Energy - Where are you getting your energy from?
Here are a few tips I would give you to avoid burnout from actually happening in the first place!
What are you thinking on a daily basis?
Become aware of the thoughts you have going on in your mind at any time. Are you being kind to yourself or are you being negative towards yourself? What words do you use to describe yourself? You are only your internal representation of yourself and this is what you will project out into the world.
If you see yourself as being someone who is bright, full of energy and smiling, then this is who you will be. If you see yourself as someone who is sad, tired all the time and doesn't want to get on with things then this is what you will project out into the world.
It sounds simple, and it is. This doesn't mean it is easy though. Encourage yourself to make this habit by catching yourself every time you say something negative to yourself. Look in the mirror and tell yourself how proud you are of you.
What are you fuelling yourself with?What are you eating on a daily basis? Cutting out gluten and avoiding foods that take time to digest can have a huge impact on the way you feel every day. If your body is being used up for digestion then that will be zapping your energy, especially in the longer days during summer. Be mindful of your diet and what you are fuelling your body with. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water.
Where are you getting your energy from?You've most likely heard about introverts and extroverts. Introverts get their energy from being alone and extroverts get their energy from being around others. What if you were to imagine your energy coming from the sun, or the universe. Imagining a ray of sunshine pouring into you like a light or a beam of light pouring into you from the universe. Gaining your energy this way will support you because it can be done at any time, only depending on yourself and can help to renew your energy daily.
What are the tell tale signs burnout could be imminent?
Feeling tired, lethargic and not looking forward to doing things. If you are beginning to feel very tired and heavy and as though each day is just getting a bit harder as time goes by it is a good indicator that you may be experiencing burnout. If you are lacking interest in doing your day to day activities and have little or no interest in anything you would usually enjoy.
What's your advice for someone experiencing burnout?
Slow down. Really take a step back and acknowledge what is happening. We can find ourselves in these spiralling situations thinking we must do things and complete things. Putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves. Begin by getting really intentional on what you
- Want to do
- Need to do
- Can get help with
- Drop the things you don’t need to do or get help doing them