You’ve been focused, smart and dedicated. You’re on your way to what seems like an ideal goal snapping up other mini goals along the way. People praise you, promote you and tell you that you are indispensable. You’re in the game.
But something’s not right. You are awake when you ought to be asleep and when you do sleep it’s far from sound. When you do catch up with friends who are happy to meet you around your schedule your mind wanders back to work, that phone call, that email, that meeting. You eat on the go and at times when you can. Your mind and body have been working hard but seem so out of sync. Things are constantly playing on your mind. It feels heavy. Every once in a while you think of that sound sleep, each meal being an occasion, leisurely walks, friends, time that you are in control of.
But you’re a go-getter and you keep at it. You continue to cope.
You are probably one of the half million individuals suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in the UK – at the cusp of ‘burning out’. It feels shit.
At Soulscape we’ve been devising ways to overcome burnout through creative and cultural journeys underpinned by lifting one’s wellness in non-pretentious, transaction free, hassle-free travel experiences.
Here are 7 steps to protect yourself from burning out:
1. Recognise that burnout is creeping up on you
Our bodies are great at giving us indications that something in our system isn’t right. Listen to it. Bad sleep, feeling anxious, not being able to switch off, losing appetite, irregular bodily functions… are all signs of that dreaded B word. One of the worst things you can do is to ignore the signs and keep pushing through. The fear of failure, your own ego for wanting to succeed and not wanting to let your team down are all familiar factors for wanting to ignore these signs – don’t.
2. Tell someone (it won’t make you weak)
The biggest mistake one can make is not share how they are feeling with another person you know cares. If you are wary of telling colleagues or friends then there are lots of organisations out there that you can reach out to. You won’t be judged because burnout is a real thing that can drastically affect a person’s mental and physical well being.
3. Start shifting your mindset – you are priority, not your work
This is something I am guilty of, always putting my work and my mission before by own wellbeing to a point where I have previously not only exhausted myself but the teams I am supposed to enable to do their best work too. It’s taken a long time for me to even say this to myself – I am the priority. Several cultures around the globe promote having a strong work ethic but this is often accompanied by a real grounding in well being for example the work ethic of the Chinese is admired and talked about as ‘super efficient’, this is accompanied by the prevalence of meditation, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and healthy foods (not to exclude herbal teas).
4. Make daily physical activity a must
Just 20 mins. of physical activity each day can help bust stress. Your heart, mind and and body all work up a sweat and then relax. And there are so many great options too – from walking, running, cycling, badminton, hitting the gym, doing a class to having a go at ping pong, pilates, yoga… there are heaps of options. Break up your working day so that you definitely do something active in the morning, lunch time or in the evenings every day.
5. Get smart with food
I eat on the go – that’s my thing, and have managed to eat well despite having to compromise on the time I spend consuming food. The trick is simple – opt for healthier food options like wholesome salads, freshly cooked soups, street markets have fresh food (way better than superstores) and try and regulate your meal times – breakfast, lunch and an early dinner. A friend who’s a medic always keeps nuts and dry fruits in her pocket – great idea. I do this too now and am constantly nibbling in meetings. This will keep your metabolism going and will maintain good energy levels so much so that you won’t need those multiple doses of coffee!
6. Seek out new experiences
One way of regaining your balance is by exposing yourself to new experiences. From music, theatre, water activities like kayaking or water paddling to drawing, languages etc. there’s loads of stuff you can try. But the trick is to not judge till you’ve had a go. I love urban music but surprised myself while accidentally walking into a classical music gig. Now I actively go and see various performers and concerts. Sometimes I have company, and sometimes I don’t – that’s okay because I know there are a lot of people in the room just like myself.
7. Plan time for your time-off
This can be a day off each week, a week off or a longer break. You can also plan nuggets of time-off in the working week for example, make your lunch an hour long activity that you do where you don’t think about work, taking a walk, going for a run, people watching at a local cafe are all ways with which you can pause and rejuvenate.
Remember that your wellbeing is of utmost importance and that each person’s needs are different – what works for one may be different from what works for another. So, start with the mind and find out what works for your body.