Rock and roll’s anthem may be “it’s better to burn out than fade away,” but for most of us, burnout can wreak havoc on life.
A state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion, burnout is caused by excessive and prolonged stress and can leave you feeling drained and overwhelmed. Anyone who feels overworked and undervalued is at risk for burnout, from the stay-at-home mom juggling family and home to the overworked office professional.
If you feel you are on the road to burnout, take these positive steps to get your life back in balance and avoid the consequences of prolonged stress and exhaustion.
“You have a lot more control over stress than you may think,” says Yulia Okhotina, MD, an internal medicine physician at Scripps Clinic Mission Valley. “While there is no one-size-fits-all 'cure' for burnout, there are strategies that can help.”
Create work-life balance with these five tips:
1. Say “No”
Cut back on your commitments and realize that it’s okay to say no. “Take a step back and do not be afraid to minimize commitments that are too draining,” says Dr. Okhotina. “The areas you decide are important to you will benefit from your improved attention.”
Of course, there are some tasks that you would like to eliminate, but it may not be possible. For these, break them up into small steps that you do one at a time or delegate, if possible.
2. Make exercise a priority
Most any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever, so tailor your workout specifically to your preferences for the best results. For instance, if you enjoy socializing while exercising, join a running group, but if you would rather enjoy some solitary time, create your own playlist and take a bike ride or long walk.
If you’re at home in the water, laps in the local swimming pool or a dip in the ocean will energize and refresh you. “What’s most important is to find an activity that works for you and that you enjoy,” says Dr. Okhotina.
3. Eat a healthy diet
Small changes to your eating habits may be all you need to increase your energy levels and steady your mood.
- Eat less sugar and refined carbohydrates to avoid a crash in mood and energy.
- Increase your Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, seaweed, walnuts and flaxseed.
- Drink alcohol in moderation.
- Avoid nicotine.
4. Make downtime a daily priority
This should incorporate whatever recharges you. Whether that is having solitary time or spending time reconnecting with your family at the end of the work day, downtime is an important part of your overall wellness.
“Be proactive about scheduling downtime,” says Dr. Okhotina. “A date night or a movie with friends can be something to look forward to and make you smile.”
You don’t have to spend an hour a day meditating to reap the benefits. Even 10 minutes a day can significantly reduce your stress levels. “Stress creates agitation, and is something most of us have on some level,” says Dr. Okhotina.
“Meditation is a wonderful mental escape from our technologically driven and fast-paced world. We all need daily breaks from constant stimulation and the constant flow of data.” There is no one right way to meditate, so be kind to yourself. You could even start by sitting still a few minutes each day and breathing deeply.