Burnt-out? Here is how to unwind and reduce burnout in 2023

By Bash Sarmiento
Suffering from all work and no play? Bash Sarmiento shares his top tips on how to slightly alter your schedule to reduce feelings of burnout

Burnout is more than just a case of all work and no play. If you dread the coming work week not simply because you hate your job, but because the stress is beyond manageable, you're probably suffering from burnout.

Help Guide defines burnout as a state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion brought about by prolonged stress. 

Burnout is our constant pursuit to become someone or something that stretches us thin. Burnout is when we extend our hours beyond what our pay warrants, stealing our time from family, friends, and potential lovers.

Working hard doesn't mean you have to work yourself to the ground. Perhaps driven by our egos coupled with toxic advice from social media, we pursue goals that are simply unattainable, pushing us to work outside our capacity. 

“Hustle culture” is one of the many culprits of this social implosion. Bolstered by the pressures of influencers and our pretentious, surface-oriented friends on our social network accounts, hustle culture operates under the philosophy that working hard guarantees success.

A report from Stress.com says that 83% of U.S. workers struggle with work-related stress, 25% of which point to their jobs as their leading stressors. Meanwhile, around 1 million Americans do not report to work due to stress. On top of this, 76% of American workers say that workplace stress impacts their relationships.

Because stress dominates the lives of hard workers, it is only fair for them to stop, reassess, and see what activities they can do so that they do not burn out.

Assess your situation

When you feel like you're on the road to burnout, take a step back. It sounds like a phrase from a cheesy self-help manual, but it remains a sound resort to put things into perspective. Detaching yourself from the situation, albeit briefly, permits you to see all the moving parts of your life. You can catch what works and what does not. Detachment allows you to assess the situation without partiality, revealing things you may be unconsciously doing that sabotage yourself.

An assessment provides points to better your situation and gives your mind space to slow down.

An assessment also allows you to determine your negotiables and non-negotiables. 

Non-negotiables are the things you must do. For instance, working on your 9-to-5 job is non-negotiable. This is the case because you answer to a pipeline laid out by your superior or adviser. 

Meanwhile, negotiables are things you can put aside. Working on a freelance schedule that only requires weekly outputs, freeing you from a definite schedule may be considered negotiable. Your freelance will only become non-negotiable once the deadline is near. It can also be negotiable because you can always leave your freelance work and focus on your main job. 

Evaluating your situation also helps you look at the things you do that prevent you from being productive. For example, when you work from home, you might get distracted by chores that delay your progress at work. Treat chores such as cleaning the closet and doing the laundry as negotiable for the weekdays because you can always address them during the weekend. You can even laundry-proof your life by going to the laundromat every weekend. Set a schedule for it and turn it into a personal time wherein you can read a book or practice still life drawing. Not only will this relieve stress, but this will also turn a chore into something to look forward to. 

It would be advisable to put everything into writing so you can review some points when you start feeling overwhelmed again. These will ground you in an objective reality usually neglected when your mind races for the next accomplishment. 

Create a schedule

After assessing your situation, follow it up with schedule-building. Plot your daily activities in a detailed organiser. By plotting a schedule, you can determine the difficulty level of each task. Now, this will require personal discernment. 

You can prioritise tasks that are of tremendous difficulty or those that are easy. From there, you can do them progressively.

From our standpoint, getting the more challenging tasks first allows your mind greater ease when finishing the smaller tasks. 

Of course, you can also schedule your time off. For example, after work, you can stroll at your local shopping strip and shop to prepare for gift-giving for the holiday season. This will also serve as a break from the monotony of work, effectively lowering your stress.

Plotting a schedule makes things easier because it allows you to set small goals daily. When you aim at a singular accomplishment one day at a time, you will not feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks. 

Make sure to take breaks

Taking short breaks throughout the day is a good way to refresh your mind. When you linger on a challenging task for a prolonged period, this is when stress kicks in. 

According to Michigan University, a peer-reviewed source of academic papers, taking breaks from work revitalises focus. This leads to improved productivity. Because taking breaks helps keep stress at bay, it will aid foster mental health and well-being among employees. As this is the case, companies that respect their workers' break time pave the way for job satisfaction.

Get into a fitness programme

Engaging in fitness activities allows the body to recover from being burned out. 

While it may be the last thing you would want to do when you are stressed, exercising aids the body to flush out toxins. This happens because exercise increases your heart rate, pumping blood throughout the body. When blood courses through the veins healthily, toxins get flushed out. 

Some studies show that regular exercise drastically reduces burnout. Apart from that, it helps decrease anxiety and elevates mood. Some experts are even looking at the possibility of lowering depression.

Go out into the world

Vacations are not necessarily overrated. They are necessary to revitalise the body and the mind. 

According to Allina Health, taking time off your job will reap mental and physical benefits. It not only lowers stress, but it also lessens the risk of heart disease.

A New York Times report says that taking a vacation every two years lowers the risk of coronary heart disease and high blood pressure for both men and women.

So surf and ride the waves, go bungee jumping, or climb a mountain. Do whatever makes you feel alive.

The Need For Repose

If we are going to be completely honest with ourselves, working hard can only do so much. It can make ends meet, pay your bills on time, and maybe treat you out for a weekend or two. But financial stability like with billionaires on yachts? Maybe, you need to reframe your idea of work and reward.

The mind and the body have their limitations. When we don't know when to pause and reflect, we lead both to their undoing. So if you feel burned out or on the brink of breaking, don't wait for the inevitable. Stop and rest. Work will always be there when we return.

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