- Unplug and disconnect. If you take work home with you and stay connected to your phone and emails even when you are away, you are more likely to reach burnout. In order to allow yourself to recharge, you need to disconnect. If completely ignoring your phone and emails is not an option for you, set aside designated times to check and respond to your voicemails, text messages, and emails. Maybe set an hour aside after dinner at night or pick a certain time on the weekends to check your messages. Then unplug your devices and disconnect from your stressors. Focus on relaxing and having fun during your off time.
- Relax. For the Type A personalities, this may be difficult to do in your constant state of go-go-go mentality, but it is essential to do. Whether that is reading for fun for 30 minutes, doing an art project, playing an instrument, gardening, going for a hike, working out, meditating, or getting a massage, schedule time to break away and relax. Anything that helps disconnect you and decreases your stress will help you recharge and feel like you can tackle the obstacles in front of you.
- Listen to your body. Learning to listen to your body will help you tremendously in the long run. Your body has a way of telling you when something is good or something is wrong. That headache, stiff neck, aching pain in your back, and tense shoulders, may be more than just lack of hydrations or a bad nights sleep. They are all signs of stress and lead to irritability, pain, and fatigue. They are signs that you are overworked and may be on the path to burnout.
- Take frequent breaks throughout the day. At first, this may sound counterproductive in your overachieving efforts, but it will actually benefit you more in the long run. When doing a job or project, get in the habit of taking 10-15 minute breaks every hour or two. Get up and walk away from what you are focused on. Talk to others, go outside for some fresh air, or do a different activity for a little bit before coming back. This little break will help you refocus and often bring about a new perspective or creativity to what you are working on, and will help decrease your stress, making you more productive. Think of it as doing short sprints rather than doing an intense marathon, and you will feel more refreshed and less drained by the end of the day.
- Organize your tasks. Maybe you feel that you are already an organized person, maybe you know you could use some improvements on this subject. In either case, get in the habit of writing down all your tasks that you have to do and start to prioritize them before you get started. You can be a list person and cross tasks off as you accomplish them and add new things as they pop up. Or maybe entering them on your calendar to set aside designated times to do each task can help you focus on working on different tasks at certain times and have particular time frames to accomplish these tasks. This can also help with setting breaks and switching up your tasks throughout the day. Most burnout is due to stress and feeling a lack of control and able to get things done in a timely manner. Organizing your daily tasks can help eliminate this and allow to you to see what takes more of your time and which takes less of your time for you to strategically plan your day.
- Get plenty of sleep. If you find that you are frequently getting less than 6 hours of sleep on most nights, then you are setting yourself up for fatigue and burnout. This will most likely also lead to illnesses, which will only add to your stress. Try to unwind and unplug at least an hour before bed, avoid drinking alcohol before bed, and try keeping a notepad or journal next to your bed if you are one who wakes up thinking about work or things that are stressing you out. Jot down what is on your mind so that you can address it in the morning, instead of lying there thinking about it all night. Getting a restful night sleep will help you with clarity and increase your energy to tackle all the tasks that you have to accomplish the next day.
If you practice all of these tips and you are still feeling fatigued and burned out, then maybe it is time to re-evaluate your situation. If you tried to pay attention to the warning signs and tried to put the brakes on burnout with little or no avail, maybe it is time to make a bigger change. You must decide if what you are doing is worth the stress and fatigue, or if it is time to call it quits and move in another direction. Is what you are doing more important or your health and happiness more important? We often get hung up on the financial side of things, but if we are in poor health, the cost of doctor bills and a shorter life span may not be worth the stress and money. You must decide if that is where you are at and make the best decisions for yourself. There is no easy answer. There is no right or wrong. It is what you deem important and manageable. Take care of yourself, practice self-care, and make the most out of your life to meet your needs.