Do you experience exhaustion, hopelessness, or irritation on a regular basis?
Do you regularly find yourself wanting to murder everyone around you at school/work?
Do you have the overwhelming urge to just sleep for eternity?
If so, you might be a victim of burnout and/or chronic stress.
Stressed? Me? Never!
As much as we all want to be productive and happy all the time, it’s just one of those things that doesn’t happen. We’re all human. We need breaks. Things like burnout and stress happens to even the best of us. And they might just be happening to you.
Stress, a key aspect of burnout, can lead to a frightening variety of maladies: premature aging of cells, heart disease, high blood pressure, dementia, diabetes, mental illness, erectile dysfunction, and fertility problems, to name a few. I’ll stop the list there, at the risk of sounding like WebMD. Basically, what you need to know is that stress is really, really bad. Though you can’t die directly from stress, it works as a catalyst for a truckload of other health issues that could actually literally cause your death.
Burnout is closely related to stress, with many of the same consequences. Burnout is common enough, afflicting everyone from students to working adults, but its degrees of severity vary from person to person. Someone could recover from burnout with just one day of recuperation, while it may take somebody else years.
Unfortunately, burnout and stress are not problems that just go away magically by themselves. Ignoring them will not help. Complaining about them will not help. You have to realize what you’re dealing with, and then take proper strides to recover.
Burnout is not a weight you need to be carrying right now- life’s too short to be miserable and tired all the time! So, let’s get through this together. Here are some pointers to help you recover from burnout and stress.
How to Recover From Burnout & Stress
1. Basic Needs
Are you sleeping? Eating? Drinking water? Showering? If you answered no, no, no, and no, then you should be very concerned. Neglecting any one of your basic needs will definitely work against you, guaranteed to make you cranky and tired. Before assessing anything else going on in your life, think about your physical wellbeing; a lot of the time, this is the easiest place to begin recovery.
2. Schedule Time to Relax
If you’re the type of person who plans their life out down to the last minute, you might just want to plan out a block of time to just ‘Relax’. Literally take your pen to your planner and book a ‘you-time’ appointment. Taking care of yourself is just as necessary as taking care of other people or your work, so treat it with the importance that it deserves- that you deserve.
Book a weekend getaway, get out into nature, or even just plan a one-hour period to do something that winds you down. Take a bath. Bake something. Watch a movie. Listen to music. Nap. Whatever floats your boat across the treacherous sea of burnout. This is your time, and it belongs only to you.
3. Say No
For high-functioning people- those who are usually most likely to suffer burnout- saying no can feel like you’re losing out on precious opportunities and experiences. Personally, there are heaps of clubs, classes, and and extracurriculars I would definitely join in a heartbeat if I had the time. But I don’t, because I’m pretty sure I’d actually go insane if I was that level of involved and busy. Am I missing out on some amazing experiences? Probably. But at the same time, focussing my energy on less things allows me to provide better quality work to the things I do choose to do.
In an ideal world, all of us would be multitasking masterminds, taking all the opportunities and responsibilities and experiences, becoming uber-successful, and ‘living life to the fullest’. However, the reality is that if we spread ourselves too thin, what ends up happening is that we might be able to do everything we want to do, but certainly not very well. Once you start playing whack-a-mole with your life, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
Instead, juggle less, and master your chosen pastimes.
It’s imperative to always keep your personal goals, values, and beliefs in mind when new opportunities arise. It may seem like every ticket you’re given is a golden one, but that’s not the case. Differentiate between what tasks and activities are actually worth your time versus the ones that aren’t. Learn to say no. You’ll be more productive and less stressed for it.
4. Break the Cycle
Don’t keep doing what you’ve always done if it’s not working anymore. For a fresh perspective, make changes to your daily routines. The changes can be big or small; try different foods and different activities, find things and people that inspire you; invest in new experiences: go travelling, adopt a pet, join a club, or volunteer.
Something that might be interesting to try out is making a ‘POT list’, which is a mini bucket list: instead of things you want to do before you die, write down three to five small things you want to do by the end of the month. Give yourself smaller objectives that will be eye-opening, fun, and rewarding. What these POT list items are is totally up to you!
5. Have Hope & Don’t Give Up
When you’re dealing with stress and burnout, it’s important to keep a ‘big picture’ perspective in your mind. As soon as our wellbeing gets thrown out the window, our stance on life as a whole tends to go haywire. When you’re in the uttermost depths of despair, remember this: it’s not you, it’s the stress/burnout. You don’t actually hate your life. You’re not actually a failure. You’re not going to feel like crap forever, even if that seems likely in the present moment. You’re physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted right now, and that’s what’s causing you to feel so horrible.
There is no one cure for burnout, and it can take a long time to recover. Your journey to fully feeling like yourself again may range in time from days to even years. The most important thing to remember when you’re having one of those days when nothing is going right and your life seems like it will always be a flaming piece of shit, is that this will come to pass.
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Keep going. Have hope. Don’t give up. What it is you’re going through right now, it won’t last forever. You will be happy again.
Best of luck!