As the lines between our work and home lives become increasingly blurred, burnout and overwhelm can quickly become an issue. It’s hardly any wonder that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognised burnout as an occupational phenomenon.
Burnout describes a state of complete physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. The condition is caused by excessive and prolonged stress and occurs when one is feels overwhelmed, emotionally depleted and unable to keep up with the demands of life. Typical signs of burnout include feeling less confident, overwhelmed, exhausted, and somewhat detached or alone. It can also manifest in unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking.
Here are six hacks and tips to help you overcome burnout and overwhelm.
1. A HEALTHY BODY MEANS A HEALTHY MIND
Remember, your body and mind are inextricably linked and influence one another, so getting past your burnout and stress can’t happen without supporting your physical health. Not only because chronic stress can affect your physical health, making humans ill, but because neglecting one’s physical health is more readily done when under prolonged stress. Ensuring an optimal nutrition status and regular activity can support the body to better respond to stress.
This requires eating a healthy, well-balanced diet to replenish the nutrients commonly depleted through stress, such as magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, and B5 and B6, remaining well hydrated and regular moving to stay active.
These small changes will make a big difference in your physical health, which will, in turn, support your mental health as well.
2. STOP FOCUSING ON TIME
There are times when the passage of time can feel like your greatest friend and other times when it can feel like your worst enemy — making time for your family, making time for work, tracking the minute hand during your workday, trying to get out of the house with enough time to spare. The illusion of time and its distortion, whether it is time you feel you’ve wasted, time to get your to-dos done, and feeling like your time is running out, can cause significant unnecessary stress.
There are certain aspects of life where time is relevant, such as getting to an appointment or meeting on time; however, where possible, try not to have your entire life revolve around time as it may add to the overwhelm.
3. STAY MINDFUL OF POSITIVE CHANGES AND A BETTER OUTLOOK
It can be hard to use standard stress relief methods if you’re in the grips of burnout or overwhelm. You’ll likely have trouble getting the bare minimum done by this point.
Instead of putting too much pressure on yourself, start slowly. One excellent “hack” to use is to be mindful during one moment every day. During that moment, give yourself a few minutes to re-focus your energy from a negative thing to a positive thing.
Maybe you are in your office after a meeting that caused you a lot of stress and tension; sit for a few minutes and consciously connect with one of your senses. These short mindfulness exercises can dampen the fight-or-flight response during stressful situations, rebalancing the nervous system and supporting reasoned decisions rather than reactive responses.
4. DON’T WORK THROUGH LUNCH
Stop working nonstop; remember, your work to live, not live to work! Working at a greater intensity or for longer hours will not help you overcome burnout and is more likely to push you towards it. Your body and mind need rest and opportunities to recover. If you work too much all week long, you have no energy left to live your life when the weekend comes.
Start small to ease yourself into this; you can do this by taking a proper lunch break. Stop eating lunch at your desk and multitasking while you are eating. Turn off your phone, enjoy this time, be present, and relax. This will ensure that your body can digest the food you’re eating, and don’t worry, the work will be there waiting for you when your break is over.
5. FIND WHAT GIVES YOU POSITIVE ENERGY
Look for that thing that makes you feel positive and happy each day. This will encourage more positive energy, which can help relieve some of the stress and tension you may be experiencing.
Again, this will be unique to you and your situation. It can be related to your home, job, people in your life, achieving your goals, having accomplished something you put your mind to or even travel and future journeys. The sky’s the limit on this one.
6. START SAYING NO
Even if you have always been the person other people can count on to help, you don’t have to be everything to everyone. You have every right to say no to hosting a party, declining an offer to go out on your only night off this week, or adding that extra project to an extensive work portfolio.
Although it can be difficult, learning to say no when you are already feeling overwhelmed with all your responsibilities can be the missing piece in preventing burnout.
These are just a few of the many approaches we use to support clients with their physical, emotional and mental health when it comes to burnout. We look at all aspects of life that can impact mental health. Our science-driven approach to understanding your mental wellbeing includes hormone blood tests, salivary tests for cortisol—the stress hormone—and assessments of your adrenal health and nutrient levels. If you’ve followed the guidance above and are still having issues and want support, schedule a call with us to discover how The Thrive Practice can help you.