Burnout is a state of prolonged stress resulting in mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. We’ve discussed this issue before and shared advice to help you spot the warning signs before burnout takes hold. But what if it’s too late for that?
Burnout won’t go away on its own. It’s not something you can push through, and until you address the underlying causes, it will continue to get worse. Recovering from burnout is a slow process. You need time and space to recuperate. Here are seven ways to heal and recover:
In order to move forward, it’s important to identify why you experienced burnout in the first place. The answer to this question might be obvious, or it might require some deeper introspection. Keeping a stress diary is a good way to monitor your stress levels. Each day, note both big and small causes of stress, record the cause of stress and why you think the situations made you feel that way.
Once you’ve identified the big causes, think of ways to resolve these issues. This may involve delegating tasks, taking time off, eliminating responsibilities, or changing roles at work.
You may realise you don’t have the energy or that you need more time to resolve these, but it can be liberating and empowering to identify the problems and make a plan. If this isn’t possible, can you re-organise your daily routine to include simple self-care practices to support you and eliminate smaller causes of stress?
We’ve created a free Weekly Wellbeing Toolkit that includes a simple set of tools to help you set intentions, explore any resistance to self-care, and reflect on what is and isn’t working, so you can create a realistic and sustainable wellbeing routine.
When busy life takes over and it’s hard to fit everything in, it’s good to have a routine in place and some wellbeing tools to fall back on. This helps us cultivate resilience to whatever life throws at us.
Rest and Recuperation
Burnout puts your mind and body in a weakened state, so taking a break is a good way to start your recovery. Time away from work or the demands of daily life should give you the distance you need to relax and de-stress.
After recovering from burnout, it’s important to continue giving yourself time off between big projects or busy periods rather than jumping from one stressful situation to another. Repeatedly ask yourself whether there’s enough white space in your diary for you to remain fit and well.
Focus on the Basics
It’s often the simplest things that have the biggest impact on our overall wellbeing. Are you getting enough sleep? Do you need to move your body more? Are you eating the food your body needs right now? Is self-care your top priority? Address these areas first and everything else should become a lot easier.
Learn to Say No
Personal boundaries are always important, but never more so than when you’re trying to heal from burnout. During recovery, avoid taking on any new responsibilities. You can learn more about the benefits of boundaries and how to establish them here.
Multiple studies have found a connection between heavy use of smartphones (especially when used for social media) and negative effects on self-esteem, empathy, self-identity and self-image. They’ve also been linked to sleep problems, anxiety, stress and depression. Clearly, spending too much time on your devices could prevent you from recovering from burnout. Read our tips and ideas to reduce screen time here.
Practice Positivity and Gratitude
Burnout can leave you caught in a nasty cycle of negative thinking that often worsens over time. During recovery, you may find it hard to develop a habit of positive thinking, so we’d suggest starting small. Try thinking of something positive before you get out of bed each morning or right before you go to sleep at night. You may want to establish a gratitude practice or try regular journaling.
Rediscover Your Passion
People who experience burnout often find the things they used to feel most passionate about have lost all meaning. This can leave them feeling exhausted and emotionally depleted.
Rediscovering your passion could give you the motivation you need to keep going. Do you have any creative projects you used to do but have been put on the back burner because you’ve been too busy or tired? Maybe cooking, gardening or reading a good book? Remember, it doesn’t need to be all-consuming or perfect; your passion can provide small moments of calm and relief from stress.
Start slowly, as it can be difficult to create an elaborate routine when you’re already tired. Don’t choose something that feels like an extra task to add to your to-do list, choose something you can seamlessly weave into your day. It might be taking five minutes to drink your morning cuppa snuggled in a blanket outside, practising mindful breathing whilst washing up, making a nourishing soup, or having a gentle stretch before bed. This is what we mean when we talk about sustainable wellbeing.
A small action that makes you feel a little bit better is much more likely to become something you do every day, and keep on doing, than a big change that feels like a massive effort to maintain.
Are you recovering from burnout? What things have you found most helpful?
Love Lizzie and the SOL team xxx