If you Google ‘ways to deal with burnout’, you’re bound to get dozens and dozens of articles of ideas, tips, and good stuff to start doing. More and more people are also sharing their stories on what they have done for themselves to heal from burnout. I certainly have tried some of them myself.
But a number of these ideas are merely Band-Aid solutions, designed to stop the bleeding and provide some relief when you’re in the burnout gutters.
These suggestions treat the symptoms but not address the root causes of the burnout. If we are to address the root causes of our burnout and use that knowledge to help prevent future burnout from consuming us time and again, then it’s paramount that we seek sustainable solutions.
Think about it. What if you could start instilling practical ways to recover from your burnout and keep it that way? Ways that focus on your overall well being and not just short-term tricks. Wouldn’t that be nice? A future not defined by burnout?
Let me show you how.
Step 1: Create a strong daily routine that is about YOU
Many people scoff at the routine because they feel it might restrict them. They’d rather go with the flow. They believe routine might lead to rigidity.
But daily routines have enormous benefits such as providing structure (to an otherwise chaotic day filled with 87+ things to do!), let us feel in control of our lives, support habit formation and reduce overall stress.
Routines have often eluded some folks because they often feel like they don’t have the willpower to keep to a routine. Or they think their daily-to-do list is enough to get them through, “Oh I’ve been doing OK so far with my list, so why bother”.
A daily routine to heal your burnout is not the same as ticking your to-do lists. It’s more than the basic care actions you do every day – such as brushing your teeth, hydrating and getting enough sleep (you should be doing these already!).
To heal from burnout requires us to make time and effort to include habits that are focused on rejuvenation. Simply said, together with daily healthy habits (such as getting enough rest, eating healthy and exercising, etc.), we want to be including activities that excites, inspires and invigorates us.
I’ll tell you why.
During burnout, we function on autopilot. We do things.. well.. cause we have to. Our bodies and mind are exhausted not just from the daily grinds of doing the same stuff but likely from a lack of interest and motivation in our lives. Which is why we need to make space (and time) in our lives for activities that we enjoy doing.
These activities can be small and take as little as 10-15 minutes. It can be anything from getting back in touch with your yoga practice, reading, writing, and painting to learning a new language or signing up for that online course you’ve been thinking about. Big changes start with small steps.
Step 2: Reframing your mindset
This is a big one.
In the midst of our burnout, we are bombarded by plenty of unhelpful thoughts or ways of thinking that’s riddled with anxiety, fear, and self-doubt.
Have you ever wondered why and how some folks react to stress better than others? It’s not because they have some magical powers. It’s likely because they know how to view their situation in a way that does not overwhelm them i.e. not let the stress take over their senses and capacity to act. They know they can’t control what life throws at them so they find ways to reframe how they think and perceive challenges.
They are not afraid to view change as welcoming. They remain flexible in their thinking and willing to explore what could work for them as opposed to being fixed one way of doing.
Some stresses are also helpful to invigorate us, spurs us on and motivates. But some others are not and when those stresses keep piling up, it can lead to burnout before you know it. Sorry to say this but it’s not possible to go through life avoiding all kinds of stress and live in a bubble.
But there are ways for us to start reframing how we think about challenges we are faced with that can reduce the negative impact. Reframing means we make a conscious effort to think and view a situation in a more helpful way. Instead of freaking out, what if you reframe for a moment and ask yourself, ‘what could be helpful for me right now?’
When we reframe our mindset, we will start to look at our situation with a clearer set of eyes, ask what’s not working and what needs to change.
When we reframe our mindset, it means we are giving space for us to take a breather, reassess what’s helping or not helping us in these situations, to practice flexibility and find a new way to address our challenges. Slowly and surely, through reframing our mindset, we are also building our resilience and agility to cope with life’s curveballs.
Step 3: Start designing a plan that excites you
Now that you’ve got daily habits going and a helpful mindset to go along with it, it’s time you look into making a plan that works for you. No, I’m not talking about a life-and-retirement type of plan (I’m not sure I have one either!).
I’m talking about a plan that’s filled with the good stuff and one that will excite you.
Making this plan is so critical but often undervalued. When we burn out, we’re focused on immediate things that needed to happen pronto ‘what can I do right now so I don’t feel less crummy/tired/frustrated?’ - that’s the kind of thinking we’re stuck with.
If we are not thinking ahead, we remain right there in burnout-survival mode - doing what needs to be done to survive and get through, hoping the burnout doesn’t come back. We don’t move forward.
This is where a plan comes in handy.
We’re talking about a plan that’s filled with the things you’d like to see happen, things to explore or nurture that inspires us to look towards the future with a bit more hope – that life isn’t all about hair-pulling stress and yucky burnout.
This plan doesn’t have to be massive, or overly detailed. It can be a 2-3 month plan that includes that book you’ve been meaning to finish, a vacation with the family (minus the work or checking emails), a get-together with friends you were too tired to see when you were burnout or simply learning to cook a new dish you saw on Insta. It might even be a plan to move to a new country, start an online biz you’ve been dreaming about or find work that you’ll love getting up in the morning for. Don’t like writing? Hells, you can even make a vision board (one client did this, and included her entire family)!
Point is: it has to be a plan about YOU, my friend. A real plan that will excite and inspire you.
At the end of the day, burnout happens and can happen time and again. What we want is to be equipped with the tools and understanding how best to address and learn from it. For us to heal and not let burnout become a permanent fixture in our lives, it’s time we complement short-term solutions with long-term foresight.