Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a busy bee. I can’t help myself when it comes to trying new things, making plans with friends, or working long hours at the office. What can I say… I’m a Pisces through-and-through.
I’m no stranger to burnout; I tend to go through it more often than some of my peers too. With such an ambitious personality comes great responsibility, though. That’s right, I’m talking about self-care and recharging your batteries. It’s not easy, and I don’t always have the time, but owe it to myself to take the time I need to perform at my best every day. And so do you. Here are my most effective tips on how to recover from burnout.
Know which Burnout You’re Experiencing
That’s right––there’s more than one type of burnout. There are actually three types: Overload, Under-Challenge and Neglect.
Overload Burnout | This is the most common type of burnout we are familiar with. This burnout happens when we over-work to pursue our goals and ambitions and the cost of our physical, emotional and mental health.
Under-Challenged Burnout | This type of burnout is not always recognized as a “burnout” but happens as a result of under-appreciation, lack of growth opportunity, loss of passion, etc.
Neglect Burnout | The third type of burnout is neglect. This type emerges from feelings of helplessness, incompetence, or inability to keep up with demands.
Knowing the type of burnout you’re experiencing is just as important as deciding how to recover from it. Everyone experiences burnout differently and for different reasons, so it’s important to identify the cause up-front.
Make Time for the Right Self-Care
“Self-Care” is a bit of a trendy umbrella term these days. It’s not always about face masks and bubble baths––although that self-care is good too. Sometimes you need different types of self-care to recover effectively from different types of burnout.
How do you know what the right self-care is for the type of burnout you’re experiencing? Again, everyone experiences burnout differently, so you have to find what’s right for you. I’ve experienced all three types of burnout within the past two years, and I want to share what worked for me.
I deal with Overload Burnout the most out of the three types. I have quite a demanding full-time job, I serve on my local AIGA Chapter’s Executive Board (what’s AIGA?), I run The Design Blonde and deal with regular life things. Here are the best self-care remedies I use for dealing with Overload Burnout:
Unplug for a while. There’s nothing I love more than taking at least an hour to unplug from all my devices, social media and constant notifications. As I mentioned before, I am quite involved, and being responsible for four different emails can be exhausting and overwhelming. Unplugging is the hardest but most rewarding thing I can do for myself during a burnout session. Yes… I worry every time that I’ll come back to a hundred notifications, but that’s never the case. I return refreshed and focused.
Reconnect with nature. I like to utilize my device-less time outside in the fresh air. It’s been scientifically proven that spending time outside and in green spaces has positive effects on our health. Not only is it physically beneficial, but mentally clearing as well, especially when paired with unplugging.
Stick to healthy eating habits. Whenever I go into Overload Burnout, I tend to forget to fuel my body with nutritious foods. Instead, I either skip meals or stress eat; both of which are unhealthy habits that can make my burnout worse. Nutritious foods play such an important role in your overall health and brain function.
Go to bed an hour earlier. Sleep is so important no matter if you’re going through burnout or just going through your daily routine. I find that getting an extra hour (sometimes two hours) of sleep during a burnout helps me recover faster while staying productive with my daily responsibilities.
Try a productive morning routine. Sometimes while I’m suffering from burnout, I have a hard time focusing on the tasks that need to get done. During an Overload Burnout, it’s essential for me to have a morning routine. Find out what’s in my morning routine in the video below and try it out for yourself!
This past year was the first time I’ve identified dealing with Under-Challenge Burnout. As a Protagonist personality type, it’s important for me to work in a supportive environment. Sometimes I have to be a support system in the environment which means I’m not always feeling appreciated–but that’s okay! What’s not okay is when the under-appreciation turns into a toxic environment or relationship. Do your best to determine when it’s time to move on or make a change.
If it’s temporary under-appreciation due to the environmental nature of a supportive environment, here’s the best self-care remedies I use for dealing with Under-Challenge Burnout:
Engage with your passions. Trying to engage your passions when you’re not feeling passionate can feel next to impossible––trust me it’s not. Identify the things you like to do that feed your soul. This could be as simple as reading a book or spending time with your friends and could be as exhilarating as going for a hike or taking a painting class. Whatever it is, take some time to focus on that one thing.
Try a motivational meditation. There is one meditation in particular that I like to listen to overnight while I’m sleeping–yes, I’m talking about subconscious meditation. It’s an 8-hour session on YouTube called Motivation For Everything - Sleep Hypnosis Session - By Thomas Hall. I find that I fall asleep in a timely fashion and wake up ready to conquer the day. This one’s not for everyone, but it seemed to work for me.
Power Posing. I SH*T YOU NOT. It’s controversial, I still don’t totally believe in this one, but it works for me almost every time. Power posing is when you stand in a posture that you mentally associate with being powerful. My favorite is the wonder-woman, hands on my hips pose. I try to power pose around the office while engaging in normal business and friendly conversations with my coworkers. It tends to make me feel more confident.
Revisit or create some goals. Goal setting can provide focus and motivation for the things you want to achieve. By practicing a healthy goal-setting exercise, you can outline your goals and make a plan for how you’re going to achieve those goals.
Change “Motivation” into Discipline. In all honesty, it’s hard to “get motivated” on almost anything. We’ll become much better at attaining our goals by becoming disciplined. For example, I don’t always want to go to the gym and to be honest, I rarely have the motivation to go. The reason I go is that I’ve developed a discipline for my goals and a healthy lifestyle. This one’s difficult and takes some time, but can be really effective when going through an Under-Challenge Burnout.
Lastly, the third type of burnout is something I have struggled with while dealing with “imposter syndrome.” According to the Harvard Business Review, Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.
I’ve also experienced Neglect Burnout when embracing the “fake it till you make it” motif too much; taking on freelance work or telling my boss that I could do something when I clearly had no experience. As an ambitious college student, that’s how I got by and somehow managed to be successful (I don’t recommend doing this all the time). When it came to dealing with clients, I burned out quickly from putting in the extra work to learn new things that I had promised. Fortunately, I learned a lot in those years and no-longer need to work myself so hard.
Try a To-Don’t List. Make a list of things that you could potentially outsource or delegate. Find opportunities to rearrange priorities according to when they’re due and keep them off your to-do list.
Learn to say no. This was a GAME-CHANGER for me in all aspects of life, not just when I was burnt out. Learning how to say no was an effective treatment as well as an effective preventative tactic. You don’t have to say yes to everything; identify when you can and need to turn down event plans, take on additional work, or even say no to laying in bed all day.
Reward yourself for successes. With Imposter Syndrome, it’s sometimes difficult to celebrate successes. Take a deep breath, realize when you’ve accomplished – big or small – and go buy yourself a Starbucks latte. You deserve it.
Burnout can be crippling. I do my best to follow my advice but it doesn’t always work––That’s okay too. Sometimes the best way for me to deal with burnout is to give myself some solitude. I tend to feed off of other people’s energy and can become extremely exhausted because of it. The only way for me to recuperate from that type of exhaustion is to quarantine myself until I’m recharged. While making time for the appropriate self-care to deal with burnout can seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. I hope some of the knowledge I’ve provided from my own experiences gives you some tools to get back to your normal, hard-working self.