5 tips for recharging your batteries
In today’s fast-paced, high-stress work environments and tough economy, many employees are experiencing burnout. But what exactly is burnout, and how can you manage it effectively? Here are some quick tips on identifying and bouncing back from burnout, even if you have little time to spare.
1. Know when you’re running on empty.
If you’re feeling fried you probably are. “I think of burnout as a depletion of internal resources,” says Marilynn Irvine, Ph.D., a licensed marriage and family therapist and area chair for the University of Phoenix Master of Science in Counseling degree program at the Sacramento Valley Campus. “It can be experienced on mental, emotional, physical and spiritual levels — any or all at once — depending on the circumstances creating the drain.”
2. Understand the causes.
If you can determine what’s behind your burnout, you’re already halfway towards combating it. “Burnout generally comes about when there is an absence of life balance,” says Irvine, who has more than 30 years’ experience as a professional counselor. “The way you can replenish yourself is through engagement in life-affirming activities and interests. And pretty much any activity or situation that is a drain on your energy reserves can lead to a depletion state.”
3. Find ways to recharge, even in small doses.
If taking a long vacation or switching jobs isn’t an option, sometimes even small actions can make a big difference, according to Irvine. “You can do things to combat burnout on the job in just a few minutes,” she says. “Mindful physical activities, such as deep breathing, stretching your muscles, or even stamping your feet hard can release tension from the body and help you regain mental/emotional equilibrium.” Irvine also recommends vocalizing your frustrations, whether that means venting with a friend, screaming into a pillow or even singing in the shower. “Verbal releases can be very powerful and satisfying,” she says.
4. Some professions are particularly prone to burnout.
Service-oriented professions, such as counseling, nursing and education often lead to burnout, according to Irvine. “Jobs which focus on helping others can lead to 'compassion fatigue,' which is a type of spiritual burnout,” Irvine explains. To help relieve compassion fatigue, Irvine recommends meditation, prayer or just spending time in nature or with friends. “Take time to reconnect deeply with what led you to pursue your service-related career in the first place,” she says.
5. Take good care of yourself.
“When people are stressed out, they often engage in unhealthy behaviors — like overeating, substance abuse or consuming too much caffeine, salt and sugar,” Irvine explains. “But that will just make you feel even worse. Instead, try to exercise more, eat plenty of fresh food, get plenty of sleep and participate in a hobby you enjoy. All of these things can help recharge your batteries.” When it comes to avoiding burnout, small steps pay big dividends. “Make these self-care strategies an integral part of your everyday life, and you’ll reap the benefits tenfold,” says Irvine.