As tasks, projects and commitments pile up, so does burnout. Here are tips to beating burnout (because a vacation isn't the answer)
Is your first thought when your alarm goes off each morning — “Oh no, not again?”
When you finally roll out of bed, down a cup of coffee, and make it to your desk, even the simple task of opening your email inbox seems like a feat of superhuman strength. You struggle to focus, you’re increasingly irritable toward your team members, and you can’t muster up any enthusiasm about your daily work tasks.
If this sounds all too familiar, there’s a reason: you’re burnt out. But you? Burnt out? You keep writing these indicators off as normal work stress. After all, your job isn’t always a walk in the park—that’s why you take home a paycheck.
Unfortunately, you’re far from alone. In our hustle-obsessed culture, burnout has become a widespread epidemic.
A recent Deloitte survey found that 77% of respondents have experienced burnout in their current job, and in May of 2019, the World Health Organization included burnout as an occupational phenomenon in the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases.
But, despite these alarming facts, this constant state of exhaustion and overwhelm is still somewhat normalized. You wear busy as a badge of honor, and often ignore the early indicators that you're careening straight toward burnout town.
So, how can you tell if you’re actually burnt out? And more importantly, what can you do about it? Let’s dig into what you need to know so that you can kick that feeling of dread to the curb and reignite some excitement about your work (and life).
What Is Burnout?
Burnout is way more than a bad day or a groan-worthy project. It’s a persistent feeling of disinterest, disdain, hopelessness, and fatigue in regards to your work life.
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Here are some tips to help avoid burnout, stop and be:
Make time for doing nothing, and do it with purpose. Figure out when you’re most productive and creative, then notice when your mind starts to shut off or you start performing tasks just for the sake of doing them, Mr. Bailey suggests. That’s when you should go for a walk or take a break. The intention behind the decision is what counts.
“I do nothing with purpose,” Mr. Kets de Vries said. “I know that without breaks I cannot be effective.”Prioritize the things that are important to you and the things that bring you pleasure, and outsource everything else when possible. Focusing on the truly relevant parts of life can help you build free time in your schedule. And take advantage of convenient opportunities to practice idleness, like when you’re standing in line or waiting for the children to come home from school.
Resist the culture of busyness.
If you’re doing nothing, own it. When someone asks you what you’re doing during a nothing break, simply respond, “Nothing.” Be unapologetic about taking breaks or holidays, and if you start to feel guilty about being seen as lazy, think of niksen not as a sign of laziness but as an important life skill. Choose the initial discomfort of niksen over the familiarity of busyness.
Manage your expectations.Learning takes time and effort so don’t get discouraged if you don’t catch on immediately to the benefits of idleness. Know that sitting still might actually be uncomfortable at first and might take practice — just like exercise.
Ms. Dodgen-Magee, author of Deviced - Balancing Life & Technology in a Digital World, likens it to beginning a new workout routine: At first, you might get sore, but “after a while, you’ll find yourself in this moment where you’re like, ‘Oh, this feels fantastic.’”
Reorganize your environment.
Your surroundings can have a major impact on how much nothingness you can embrace, so consider the physical space in your home and workplace. Keep your devices out of reach so that they’ll be more difficult to access, and turn your home into a niksen-friendly area. Add a soft couch, a comfy armchair, a few cushions or just a blanket. Orient furniture around a window or fireplace rather than a TV.
“If those spaces are present, people will use them,” Ms. Dodgen-Magee said.
Think outside of the box.If you can’t sit still in your home or workplace, go to the park or book a relaxing day at the spa. Ms. Dodgen-Magee encourages people to host boredom parties, during which a host invites over a few friends to … be bored together.
Mr. Bailey suggests experimenting with different lifestyles to find the right one for you.
For example, he lived like a slob for a week, and learned that it's important to 'let the air out'' of the tires once in a while.
If you're still uncomfortable with the idea of 'doing nothing' , try tricking your mind into thinking that you're busy by using toys and games such as Kinetic Sand, Marble Run or Baoling Balls and such.
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