By its very nature, life can often feel difficult and stressful. It requires continuous, sustained mental, emotional and physical exertion that can leave us feeling worn down and in desperate want to get away. But, let me ask you this, what if that sense that you need a break from the day-in-day-out of it all becomes something more?
Feeling stressed and unmotivated happens. Let's go over some "hacks" to avoid burnout.
If you’re extremely exhausted and feeling detached and ineffective, you’re likely experiencing burnout. Learning how to avoid burnout or how to correct it if you’re already experiencing it will do wonders to help your happiness and your health.
Burnout can affect anyone in any walk of life, although evidence suggests that it’s rampant among physicians and other healthcare providers. When it hits, it can lead to adverse health consequences, from gastrointestinal issues to cognitive deficits and when it affects those in the health field, it seems like an ironic outcome considering their dedication to improving the well-being of others. It also has a more global impact on health, including declining numbers of doctors and more poor patient care in clinical settings.
Luckily, Holistic/functional living, thinking, and medicine offer a system you can build on towards becoming the best version of you. Whatever life may keep throwing at you keep reading for help recognizing the signs of burnout, plus strategies for recharging your batteries and reclaiming the pleasures you can find in creating better day’s.
Psychologist Herbert Freudenberger first coined the term “burnout” in the 1970s to describe the stress and emotional depletion he saw people experiencing in helping professions, such as medicine. Today, it is widely recognized as a legitimate medical disorder and one that can affect anyone at work, in any walk of specifically western life.
A recent survey found that about two-thirds of adults experience burnout. Of the nearly 7,500 people across a variety of fields who took part, 23 percent reported feeling burned out very often or always, while an additional 44 percent said feeling burned out occasionally. Participants cited reasons from an unmanageable workload and unreasonable life responsibilities to a lack of clear communication and support from others within their lives. Add to these the fact that today we can, and are sometimes expected to, work away from the office almost 24/7 via phones and laptops, and it’s not hard to see why the phenomenon to stretch further and further.
The three critical characteristics of burnout are:
Feelings of cynicism, along with frustration and anger that lead to a feeling of dissatisfaction with life
A sense of ineffectiveness or failure
To be sure, burnout has negative consequences in our lives; those who are burned out are much more likely to take sick days, perhaps missing pay, for example. But also not surprisingly, the effects of burnout extend far beyond one's profession.
Mounting scientific evidence suggests that burnout can leave a profoundly devastating mark on the body and brain—to the tune of between $125 and $190 billion in healthcare spending annually in this country.
Research notes that it can lead to ruined personal relationships, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Burnout has been found to be a significant predictor of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, respiratory problems, increased chances of developing Alzheimer's and even death in those under the age of 45. And recent studies suggest that it can be too much for our minds to handle, rewiring neural circuits that make it hard for us to cope with stressful scenarios and eventually leading to characteristic changes in brain anatomy and cognition.
Here’s How to Avoid Burnout at Work
So, you’ve read this far, and you’re closely identifying with the characterizations of burnout. You’re exhausted and dragging yourself to work, feeling disillusioned, and you lack the energy to be consistently productive—which means your performance is likely suffering. You might even have gastrointestinal upset or feel as if you’re always sick as a result of all the stress. Now what?
Those feelings don’t have to be inevitable. Here’s how to avoid burnout at so you can find health and happiness in your professional and personal life again.
Research has shown that mindfulness, including mindfulness meditation, can reduce burnout. How? Practicing mindfulness—even for a short time—increases positive emotions while reducing negative emotions and managing stress. It helps us tune out distractions and improve our ability to focus. And it enhances our relationships, makes us feel more connected and relaxed, and boosts our compassion for ourselves and others.
Mindfulness means being aware of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment on a moment-to-moment basis. It means paying attention to what is, rather than getting lost in thoughts about the future or the past. I've used headspace and am currently committing myself to work through Sam Harris's Waking Up App. I'll be giving updates on my IG @flipawesomeaguilera, follow along, let's hold each other accountable!
Do a Digital Detox
Today’s technology keeps our attention bouncing around like a pinball. The ability to control where you direct your attention is fundamental to optimal performance in whatever you do. I’ve been cutting off any screen time at 10 pm. The benefits of this cut off have positive effects on your relationships, sleep, and clarity of mind. I can attest to how much this tiny change has helped to boost my mood and help to regain focus and clarity. Of course, there are the old faithful engaging in physical activity, eating better ingredients and connecting with yourself, family and friends.
Practice Good Work Hygiene
Don’t spend too much time sitting (try a standing desk or even treadmill desk) and take frequent breaks during which you step entirely away from the computer (I do something physical in between every task I've set to accomplish every day.
Prioritize Sleep and Exercise
When stress consumes our lives, we can forget these basics. But don’t underestimate what adequate sleep (at least seven hours) and regular physical activity can do for your productivity, energy level, and outlook. Sleep is literally the lowest hanging fruit you can work on optimizing for the most significant health benefits.
Before you say, "Yo, Flip, that’s not possible," hear me out. There are ways to work more efficiently so that you can work less but still get the same amount done. Batching your emails, automating repetitive tasks, and delegating can all help.
If you’re not experiencing burnout, that’s excellent news—I hope it stays that way for you. But if like so many, feel the onset of exhaustion and detachment, I urge you to pay attention to the warning signs discussed here and use the strategies shared above to break the cycle and find joy once more.
Now, I’d like you to share your story. Have you experienced feelings of work-related burnout? How have you coped? Reach out and let me know!
Track Of The Day - Where Are You Going - Dave Matthews Band