Self Care

21 Ways to Beat Burnout When Taking Time Off Is Difficult

While decreasing the chance of experiencing burnout in the first place. 

By: Nicole Lippman-Barile Ph.D., N.T.P.

Burnout, not a true medical diagnosis but a very real experience that can be, unfortunately, very common. The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as “a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” Burnout is a serious problem, and the World Health Organization has even classified it as an “occupational phenomenon.” 

Ahead more about the common signs of burnout, plus some ways to combat it when taking time off may be difficult. 

Identifying The Signs of Burnout 

Burnout can look like many different things but what is characteristic is that burnout affects a person psychologically, emotionally, and behaviorally. Common symptoms of burnout include but are not limited to lack of energy and chronic fatigue, decreased productivity, difficulty concentrating, increased forgetfulness, trouble sleeping, feelings of anxiety and depression, loss of enjoyment and pleasure, pessimism, apathy, and detachment. Burnout can be caused by taking on more responsibilities than one can manage, poor social support, as well as poor self-care and stress management. The thing about burnout is that it is typically an insidious and slow developer over time, making it crucial that we understand the signs and symptoms so that we can practice coping skills to help mitigate these feelings. 

Experiencing burnout can be incredibly challenging and difficult to navigate, and the typical solution is usually taking time off so that you can rest and recharge. But what if you don’t have that as an option? Here are some suggestions to help you not only manage the experience of burnout but to also help decrease the chance of your experiencing burnout in the first place. 

21 Simple Hacks to Beat Burnout 

#1 Go To Bed 30 Minutes Earlier

Sleep is an essential part of both mental and physical well-being, and if you’re burnt out, your body is craving those extra Zzzzs. Try getting to bed just 30 minutes earlier and work your way up until you’re getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Trouble falling asleep? Listen to a free FitOn before bed meditation or create a classical music playlist. Research shows classical music helps support sleep.

#2 Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods

Need a snack? Go with almonds, a banana, or cherries. The mix of magnesium, calcium, and potassium help your muscles relax and increase the feel-good hormone (serotonin). 

#3 Go For A Walk

Just 10 minutes — even on a call — can reduce stress and help you soak in some mood-boosting vitamin D. 

#4 Say No Today

Saying no can be difficult, especially if you find yourself frequently overcommitting, but challenge yourself to say no to one thing today that doesn’t have a place in your schedule. Reducing your responsibility plate is a huge part of beating burnout or preventing it from happening in the first place. 

#5 Call A Friend

You know that friend that instantly puts a smile on your face and helps you feel better? Set aside 30 minutes to call that friend today and check-in. 

#6 Do a 5 Minute Meditation

Reduce stress today with a five-minute guided meditation. Research shows meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, is a powerful tool to support mental wellbeing. Not sure where to start? Try this Mindful Awareness FitOn meditation with DeAndre. 

#7 Do Yoga

Even a 15-minute evening flow can do wonders for both the mind and the body. Browse the yoga category in the FitOn app to find a flow that works for you. 

#8 Schedule in 1 Hour of Interruption-Free Time

If your work to-do list is never-ending, try setting aside 60 minutes of laser-focused time where you work on your highest priority for the day. Getting the most important task done will likely leave you feeling a little less stressed as you go about the rest of your day. 

#9 Take Mini-Breaks Every 1-2 Hours

We all have tons of things to do at work but don’t forget to take mini-breaks throughout the day. Getting up and stretching your legs and giving your eyes a break from the computer screen can leave you feeling recharged. 

#10 Set Boundaries

If a non-existent work-life balance has become a big source of your burnout, it’s time to set boundaries. Start small by turning work notifications off of your phone after working hours.

#11 Listen to a Podcast or Audiobook

While you’re washing dishes or folding laundry, listen to an uplifting podcast or inspirational audiobook — it may help give you that mood-boost you need as you tackle all of your to-dos. 

#12 Add Cacao Nibs to Your Smoothie or Oatmeal

Some studies have suggested that the flavonoids found in cocoa contain mood-supporting properties, so go ahead and add a sprinkle to your breakfast. 

#13 Make Your To-Do List Actionable

There’s nothing more stressful than looking at your to-do list on a Monday morning — the endless work task list is enough to make anyone feel burnt out. Today, revamp your to-do list by breaking each task into bite-sized items. For example — have 50 emails to respond to? Instead of adding respond to 50 emails to your list, break it down in time increments. For example, 30 minutes of email responses. A half an hour sounds a lot more doable than looking at the massive number of emails you need to get to. 

#14 Take 3 Slow Deep Breaths Right Now

Research shows that slow, deep breathing helps support a feeling of tranquility, something anyone experiencing burnout could benefit from. 

#15 Spend Time on a Hobby

When dealing with burnout, we tend to lose the joy in the things we used to love, so it’s important to spend time on the things that bring you happiness. Don’t be afraid to try something new, like signing up for an online cooking class or trying something crafty if that’s more your style.

#16 Make Your Days Off Sacred

The days you aren’t working are the days you have to recharge. Make these days sacred by scheduling in self-care time, turning off work notifications, and filling your own cup by spending time with the ones you love and doing the things you love to do. 

#17 Organize One Thing Today

Overwhelm and burnout go hand and hand. If that pile of papers on your desk has been stressing you out for weeks, set aside 15 minutes to sort through it today. 

#18 Give Yourself Grace

Had plans to do yoga, meditate, drink a green smoothie, but it just didn’t happen? Give yourself grace and pick up where you left off tomorrow. 

#19 Swap One Cup of Coffee For Green Tea

Too much caffeine can leave you feeling jittery, which is the last thing you want when you’re already feeling burnt out. Try swapping one cup of coffee with green tea. 

#20 Diffuse a Calming Scent 

If you’re into essential oils, try diffusing lavender, ylang-ylang, chamomile, or sandalwood. A small study found that aromatherapy was beneficial for relieving work-related stress in nurses. Try diffusing your favorite calming scent throughout your workday or during your evening meditation or yoga flow. 

#21 Write Down 3 Things You Are Grateful For Each Morning 

Science has shown just how powerful journaling can be, and gratitude journaling has been shown to be especially beneficial for mental wellbeing. Consider starting your day by writing down three things you are grateful for over your morning cup of tea. 

Combat Burnout By Prioritizing YOU

Feeling burnt out can be very challenging and hard to combat, particularly when there are ongoing stressors. The best you can, keep up with behaviors that give you energy and help take care of yourself. 

Prioritize going to bed early, make brain-healthy meals, move your body, call a friend, read a book, or do whatever makes you feel more relaxed and invigorated. Try and practice these things on a regular basis, especially when you are busy, because a little really does go a long way. Your brain and body will thank you!

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