As the days are getting shorter and holidays are approaching, I have been reflecting on how different our pandemic experiences impacted how we view the future. In some ways, it feels like things are back to normal. Most kids are back to school in person again [yeah for parents!] I’ve had face-to-face meetings in the last month. But in other ways, we still have a long way to go to find our new normal. At least where I live, masks are required indoors so I need to remember to bring them everywhere. Most of my training sessions, again, are online at least until the beginning of next year. I am finding my work is a mix of online meetings with a sprinkle of seeing clients in person.
One word I have heard repeatedly from clients and experienced myself this month is burnout, so I thought I would spend some time exploring this topic as we are still in very uncertain times. Many of my clients are saying they really just “need a break” from work. Decisions are up-in-the-air or changing constantly as new information comes in. In this type of environment can be hard to feel like you have accomplished something. In some ways, it feels like we are spinning round and round like the merry-go-round from our childhoods. How do we get off this ride and head to more normalcy? I recommend these few simple steps every day to break up the stress you may be feeling from home and work to find a different perspective.
First, it is all about breathing properly. Yes, neuroscience has shown we can tap into our parasympathetic nervous system by just noticing our breath for less than a minute. I recommend taking three big breaths filling your lungs completely, hold it for 2-3 seconds, and letting go of stress and all your worries as you breathe out. It may sound silly, but it is an easy way to reset your brain, especially if you have a stressful meeting coming up or just left one.
Next is to get up and move around. Even a 15-minute walk, outside preferably, can give you a boost of energy, reset your mindset and make you more productive than powering through your whole day at your desk non-stop. Research backs me up on this one so I highly suggest blocking time as you would for other meetings, so your day doesn’t get away from you. It is too easy to blow it off, but this little change can make a HUGE difference in your outlook.
Lastly, take some time for gratitude in your life. Over the holidays last year, I read Jay Shetty’s book, Think Like a Monk, who calls gratitude the “world’s most powerful drug.” This can take the form of writing it down either first thing in the morning or right before bed. You can even practice gratitude while you are brushing your teeth, just think about one thing that happened in the day that made you happy either with something that you did for another or someone bringing you joy or appreciation. It doesn’t need to be big. It is more important that you practice it every day, so you flex it like a muscle. By focusing on the positive and happier things in life, you can lower your stress and anxiety. It will feed into your overall well-being and become a habit. I’ve been practicing more gratitude in my life, and I have noticed a difference overall in my mood.
Hopefully, some of these tips will be helpful to you. Burnout is a chronic condition so it most likely will not be solved by taking a day off or a vacation. It is more how you balance and respect your time so you can spend some of each day recharging or doing things you like or bring you happiness. By providing boundaries and taking self-care, you will notice a change over time and feel less stressed or a sense of dread. You have control of have you live your life, chose wisely.