How to avoid burnout
Burnout is often mixed up with stress. Stress can actually be good in some ways; it can energise us and help us to develop resilience – it is all about the mindset you adopt. Only 10% of stress is caused by the trigger (the event itself) and 90% of stress is caused by our response to it. In other words, the majority of the stress we experience is caused by the way we look at it.
If we can get clear about why we are feeling stressed and choose our response to it, we can start to feel a bit more in control. Start by acknowledging the stress and then see if you can connect to the meaning behind it. Ask yourself, why does it matter to me? Stress usually arises because we care about something, so taking a few minutes to identify this can free you from the nagging sense that there is something wrong with the situation you find yourself in. Explore what you might learn from this stressful event. Then, instead of using your energy to manage the stress, see if you can direct it towards actions that reflect your goals and values. To help you gain some perspective, try looking ahead to next week, next month and next year and ask yourself if this stress will still matter to you then?
Burnout has a slow onset and it is characterised by emotional exhaustion, feelings of cynicism and ineffectiveness. It is caused by constantly being on the go, being in demand, needing more time. The problem with this is that we live our lives as if we are running a marathon, not a series of sprints. The need to pack more and more in and to do more with the same amount of time drains our energy and negatively impacts on our mood.
Time is a finite resource, but our energy is not. The key to avoiding burnout is learning to renew our energy. Building in time to recover and replenish our energy is super important. As humans, we have four main wellsprings of energy:
The body (physical) – looking after your health, fitness, diet and sleep
The mind (mental) – managing the way you respond to challenges, situations and adversity
Emotional – Finding ways to look for the positive in all that life throws at you
Purposeful – getting clear on what really matters to you and connecting this to everything you do
Developing positive rituals that nurture your energy in each of the wellsprings helps you to establish boundaries and create crucial recovery time.