Today we face more chronic stress than ever before. We have technologies that are supposed to make our lives better. We have access to more conveniences and services ready at our disposal. However, we may be hurting ourselves more than we know. Because of the increased feasibility of living, the pace has rapidly increased to keep up with the speed of demand. Thus, we have more responsibilities, more expectations, and more pressures to match. If work, school, family, and finances aren't enough to stress you out, consider life's major stressors : moving, divorce, loss of a loved one, personal injury or illness, legal problems, and the list goes on. As the list compounds, so does our ability to remain resilient. How much stress can one person take for so long? Even rocks, as strong as they are, erode after they have been hit by enough waves.Burnout is defined as "an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance” according to American Psychological Association’s Dr.David Ballard , PsyD. The ICD-11 will later this year publish that this condition is a "not a single event but a process in which everyday stresses and anxieties gradually undermine one’s mental and physical health." Telltale signs of burnout are chronic fatigue, cognitive impairment such as difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness, depression, anxiety, anger, insomnia, and increased illness. You may feel cynical and detached, wanting to isolate and immobilize.
I love what I study and do for a living. I love my family and friends. I am in good physical health and try my best to keep my body sacred. However, lately, I've been feeling extremely tired all the time, no matter how much sleep I get. My mood has been at its lowest in years. Even though I blame the weather, I feel less motivated to continue doing the things I love yet wanting to be more productive. I am one of the millions of adults who experience burnout, which can creep up on anyone. Chronic stress ages us fast. Look at what stress did to President Barack Obama, in just 4 years of his presidency.
If you're feeling burned out yet cannot afford to take a vacation or are unsure of how to fix this, here are my top 5 suggestions to help you heal from burnout so you can feel better and be more productive:
1) Replace Bad Habits with Healthy Ones
Bad old habits most likely are the real source of your burnout. Get enough sleep every night as a lack of this can be the top trigger to burnout. So if you're staying up late watching TV after work eating junk food, instead try to unplug from technology and settle in with a good book and home cooked meal. Sleep, water, and exercise should be at the top of your list for getting better. Smoking, drinking, and other maladaptive coping are only hurting you in the long run.
2) Prioritize Yourself First
Leave all your excuses behind you after reading this. If you don't make the time to take care of yourself, then you won't be able to continue on much longer. If your in a plane that is crashing, you need to put your mask on first so that you can help others. Make time for you in your regular schedule doing what you love to do and what will leave you feeling rejuvenated and energized. This can be as simple as a 7 min yoga before you go to work.
3) Make Home Sweet Again
When you come home after a long day of school/work, you want to feel like you can leave all your stress out the door. Make your home spa-like by using humidifiers with essential oils, scented candles, and air-cleaning plants to oxygenize and freshen the air. Have a comfortable spot (not your bed) that you can relax and unwind away from everything. There is no better way to end a long stressful day than with a nice hot epsom bath being surrounded by healing crystals.
While you try to heal from the source of your stress and burnout, please seek medical help from your doctor and healthcare providers. A mental health clinician can help you learn to cope better with stress. If you can't take a break from work, school, or your major source of stress, plan ahead for one. Remember: even a small walk in the park once a week is better than nothing. You can feel 100 again, but don't try to do this alone. You will always have the love of family and friends to help you heal to your best self.