How to recover from burnout
How to recover from burnout: Having suffered burnout before, these are the top tips which helped save me.
Today we’re going to talk about burnout; what it is what it, what it isn’t, and some of the things that we can do to try and solve for it.
Having suffered from burnout myself before I would have loved to have had a YouTube video that I could have watched on my phone whilst not sleeping instead of another blog post to read, hopefully you found this useful.
Before we dive into the content, just a little bit about me. My name is Jessica, I’m from the UK, and my pronouns are she/her. I have a master’s in Marketing and I studied at Harvard Business School.
In terms of work, I currently work in the Government or Public sector, however in the past I worked at Google, Guardian, and GE. I’ve also done a bit of consulting work before, which is where most of my burnout comes from, so hopefully I have some tips and tricks to help you!
What is burnout?
Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mentally exhaustion and it’s caused by periods of prolonged stress and it dramatically reduces our own productivity and also causes long-term health problems for us too. If you’re suffering from burnout now then you definitely know that you are and if you have suffer from burnout previously then you might remember that quite vividly.
So what’s the difference between stress and burnout?
Stress can leave us emotionally overactive. We might jump to action often, whereas with burnout we would feel emotionally quite distant, some describe as being quite blunt. With stress we would feel a loss of energy for example we may feel quite tired whereas burnout is different — while you might also be tired it’s more of a loss of motivation and general loss of hope with stress it can cause anxiety but with burnout you might also have anxiety but would also cause some level of detachment — with stress stress, this usually prompts a level of urgency within our own bodies whereas with burnouts when you’re going through it is this general sense of hopelessness compared with an immediate action which you would have with stress.
How do we find ourselves in a scenario where we have become burnt out?
Here’s an example from me, I might start working longer hours at work that might lead me to pick up more stressful projects. Given that my longer hours allow me more time in the day for work, which allow me to pick up some more stressful things given that I’m also working long hours on stressful projects, I might start sleeping less, I might start relying on caffeine more, and sacrificing those few hours of sleep to work harder creates this negative cycle over time this would cause a level of emotional bluntness.
I personally have a very high level of caring in what I do, so when I start to feel quite emotionally distant or emotionally blunt this is a really big red flag for me personally. Again this is not sort of one day after the next, this is over a prolonged period of time which would lead to burnout and it has done with me previously.
How to recover from burnout?
In the next few slides I have detailed some examples that I have used in order to recover from burnout and I personally have found them very useful and I wanted to share with them with you because I hope you might find them useful to you.
Okay so I’ve split them into four categories; there’s the people category, the work category, the diet and exercise category, and the future you category. Let’s go through these in order.
Category number one, the people category.
I’ve outlined here’s some do’s and don’ts that I have personally found very useful in tackling burnout let’s go through them one by one. Under the do column, we have you talk to friends and family — it seems really simple but picking up the phone and having a conversation or having a socially distance picnic or something similar has really helped me.
Try to make some time to be sociable with the people you work with — I found this really useful in building relationships with people but also more than that it helps create value in what you’re doing and remind you that while she might be grinding through a few different tasks but actually there is an end goal here.
The last bullet point of the do column is ask content before offloading — imagine you receive a phone call from one of your friends and they just start emotionally vomiting all over you, that’s not a great for anybody involved and you as the person doing that won’t get what you want out of that you won’t feel reassured you won’t feel listened to and the person receiving that will feel like they’ve been ambushed and it’s not great for anybody.
Under the don’t column I have three more; try not to surround yourself with negative people — there’s a phrase that misery loves company and having been burnt out I have found that that to be true.
Don’t cut yourself off either — in the past I found myself in this negative cycle it’s just trying to run away from things and that doesn’t solve anything, I wish it did, but it doesn’t also don’t be too hard on yourself.
Category two, set boundaries at work.
just because you find yourself working multiple hours per day, let’s say 12 to 14, doesn’t mean that that’s healthy or fair for you so try and set some of those boundaries. Try and take some time off a vacation or holiday or something similar — at the moment most of us are under lock down so it might feel strange but still remains a true, removing yourself, be it physically or mentally, from work is really valuable.
Also try and find value in what you’re doing — this might be something as simple as you made someone’s day or the client said great work or it could be really simple say you’re still in an office environment you could help someone load a printer with paper, it doesn’t have to be a big thing but just something small every day.
Under the don’t column, the first one is don’t just accept it — just because you’re in a horrible scenario right now doesn’t mean that that’s where you belong. The second point is don’t continue taking you on additional responsibilities — I’ve personally found myself in a position previously where having suffering from burnout, or suffering from burnout symptoms, finding myself saying ‘yes’ to new tasks at work or ‘yes’ to a big new project just to get that initial kick of dopamine to keep me going, but longer-term this just puts you in a negative cycle.
Don’t take it out on your co-workers — whilst there might be some people in your office or your remote structure who you would love to say what you really think it’s not going to help you, it’s not going to help them, so don’t waste your valuable effort.
The third category, diet and exercise.
I’m going to start this by saying I’m not a dietitian, I haven’t trained to be, and that these are just the things that I have personally found really helpful.
Try and find a healthy balance between eating healthy food and junk food — I’m not suggesting you take it to an extreme, but find the healthy balance. The second point is to sleep more — this might sound counter intuitive if you’re suffering from burnout symptoms like I have in the past you might find yourself working longer hours at work under incredible stress and so sleeping more it’s just not on your radar, but make time for it it will really help.
The third point is go for a walk, a jog, short bike ride, whatever it ends up being — it sounds really small, and I laughed at this when someone suggested it to me, but I found it really useful having the wind rushing through your hair helps me blow out all of the cobwebs.
Under the don’t column, try not to create an unhealthy relationship with food and/or alcohol and/or any other substance — don’t avoid exercise entirely either — I’ve been in the position in the past where I’m working 12 to 14 plus hours per day and the last thing I want to do is exercise. I found it really useful when I’ve just crunched through it, it just has to be a quick five ten-minute HIIT class, it doesn’t have to be anything crazy.
Another last point for don’t, don’t avoid the outside world — we’re currently under lock down so this might seem a bit strange given we should all be social distancing, but in a normal world I would suggest to go outside to still be social and kind of engage with humans.
The fourth category, the future you category
Under the do column, do write down your goals have a think — this could take you a few minutes a few hours or even a few days to think about what do you want to achieve in life. That leads me on to the second point, be honest with yourself — so you might want to become an astronaut, and that’s great, but is that achievable for you, is there something else that your skill set might be better suited for?
The third point is talk with your manager / work — they might be best placed to help facilitate this career change in your life or help put you on the right career trajectory in order to accomplish what you want.
Please don’t be too fatalistic about things — the attitude of ‘what will be will be’, what’s that’s great for most of the world but if you’re be suffering from burnout you want to put yourself in the best position possible. Also try not to be too indecisive making your goals, specifically your life or career goals — It’s a big task, and it should take some time, but not too much time.
As the last point, try to treat it with the seriousness which it deserves — it might sound a bit ridiculous to hear me talking about life goals and career goals right now given that you’re watching this video because you might be suffering from burnout, but where you are now you need to put yourself in the best position possible. I’ve done these things and I found them really useful.
Okay so that’s all of the points which I had, hopefully you found this useful. This was originally going to be a blog post however having been in the position of burnout or burnout symptoms before would have much rather listened to a video instead so hopefully you found it useful!
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