Burnout is becoming endemic thanks to our lifestyles and the glorification of busyness. But it’s possible to beat, if you are prepared to take what to many feel like a radical decision. Because the obvious cure for exhaustion is rest, so your first priority when dealing with burnout must be plenty of rest – despite the constant messages we get from society that rest is for the weak!
Just think about friends and colleagues – how many of them, when asked how they are will say they’re tired? Or go on about how busy they are? Or even brag about how little sleep they get?
If you have burnout, it’s a non-negotiable – but it might feel impossible to do. So here are some pointers.
First, remove everything that isn’t absolutely necessary from your schedule to make time for rest, and treat yourself like a small, overtired child – that means lots of daytime naps if possible, and plenty of sleep at night. And don’t expect to recover by sleeping for a weekend – it takes months to get over burnout, and you will have to be vigilant, as it’s all too easy to slip back into old, destructive patterns.
If you’re not yet at the burnout stage, but you’re heading that way and want to put some preventive strategies in place, then take a long, hard look at your life and consider whether it’s balanced, and how you can correct those imbalances.
A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal — including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health.
It’s essential to replenish your physical and emotional energy, along with your capacity to focus, by prioritising good sleep habits, nutrition, exercise, social connection, and practices that promote calmness and well-being, like meditating, journaling, and enjoying nature.
NOTE: If you feel unaccountably fatigued, make an appointment to see your doctor. Fatigue is a symptom of many illnesses, so don’t just assume it’s burnout. Also try to describe your symptoms in detail to help your doctor narrow down the possible causes.