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News >  Health

Water Cooler: Recovering from and preventing burnout

April 9, 2021 Updated Sat., April 10, 2021 at 4:43 p.m.


When we’re burned out, we tend to feel exhausted, irritable and unable to do the things we need to get done.

Sometimes our sleep can suffer and we can have trouble maintaining our relationships. Because burn out can affect us so severely, it is important to know how to recover and how to prevent it in the future.

The best way to recover from burnout is to take a break from the things that are exhausting us. Determine how long of a break you need to truly feel recovered. This is different for each person and can change depending on what is going on in their life. Some people might need a whole month to recover, where others might just need a day or even a relaxing afternoon.

Figure out what type of break makes you feel energized and rested. You might be someone that needs to spend time alone in a quiet space with your favorite hobby, or maybe you’re someone who needs to spend time with other people experiencing new things. Maybe you need a bit of both of these things. Do whatever works best for you.

Incorporate different types of breaks. Not every break needs to be a long vacation. Setting aside a bit of time every week or every day for intentional rest and recuperation while helping stave off burnout during your regular schedule.

Nothing is more frustrating than recovering from burnout only to feel sucked back into it. Try incorporating a few of these tools and figure out which ones work best to help you keep burnout at bay.

Know your limits. Take note of the mental, physical and emotional signs and symptoms you experience when you’ve reached the end of your rope. Maybe you experience headaches, have angry outbursts or get sick easily when you are burnt out. Being aware of these signs can help you know when it is time to invest in some self-care such as extra rest, nutritious food, socializing with loved ones, exercise or spending time on your hobbies.

Set healthy boundaries. In the realm of mental health, boundaries refer to limitations that serve as a safeguard for mental and emotional well-being. These limitations help you create terms for what is OK for you and what is not, such as the amount of time you can spend listening to your friend vent, the amount of time you work per week, how much personal information you give out or all sorts of things. When you identify your boundaries, you have a clearer idea of when they have been crossed and an easier time clearly communicating them to others.

Manage your workload and recognize your accomplishments. When making to-do lists, try to limit them to seven items or less and only list things that you know you can accomplish that day. Don’t set yourself up for failure like writing something huge, like “write a book.” Instead, set yourself up for success by listing something you know you can do, like “write for 30 minutes.” Allocate time blocks to specific tasks so you can keep track of how you spend your time and help yourself from working too long and getting exhausted. When you finish a task, cross it off and give yourself recognition for a job well done. If you feel overwhelmed, know when to ask for help and don’t be afraid to delegate tasks when you have the option.

Finally, as you work to prevent burnout in your life, don’t get too caught up in perfecting these tools. That only causes extra stress. Take it slowly, incorporate them as they work for you, and enjoy getting to know yourself and your boundaries.

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