She asked, “How can I tell if I’m burning out and what can I do about it?”
This is such an important question because when you get caught up in the busy-ness of life with all the ongoing unknowns and annoyances stemming from Covid-19 and other stressors, you can inadvertently neglect your mental health.
How can you tell if you are burning out?
My best suggestion is to pay attention to the micro clues. They could be negative thoughts such as, “I don’t feel like dealing with my email today.” That’s an avoidance clue.
Another clue might be, “I hope Jane is not at the planning meeting today.” Jane might be someone who annoys you at work and with whom you feel conflict in every meeting that she attends.
“I feel like staying in bed till noon today,” is another one. That’s not that unusual once in a while, but when that thought begins to pop up every day or every weekend, then that’s a micro clue.
Finally, one of the most obvious micro clues is that of snapping at a loved one. Quite often when you catch yourself snapping at someone you care about, that is a clear indication that you are stressed about something else. So pay attention to those little incidences of acting out.
Some other clues include: problems sleeping, feelings of resentment, or digestive issues.
What can you do when these micro clues begin to happen every day?
Here are my top five tips for managing stress to banish burnout.
#1 Write daily.
Write everyday morning or night. Start with three pages only. Use it to let go of stress from the day before and to prevent worry about the day to come.
#2 Call a friend.
Did you know that a deep connection with a good friend releases oxytocin, the happiness chemical of social connection? Just imagine having a good long talk with an old friend you haven’t talked to in a long while. Imagine that feeling. You can muster up that feeling any time you choose. Simply pick up the phone.
#3 Get out in the sun.
The moment you walk out into the sun Vitamin D gets activated. I realize the weather is rough right now, but on those days when the sun peaks through, put on your coat & spend at least ten minutes in the sun. If you can get a friend, even better. The sun also elevates your mood and your cognition among many other physiological benefits. For more information about the benefits of spending time in the sun, read my recent blog at: https://janicelitvin.com/what-does-sunlight-have-to-do-with-banishing-burnout/.
#4. Take a walk.
I know you know that walking is good for the heart and releases endorphins. But did you know that walking also lifts your mood, especially when walking outdoors? If you can’t go out, then walk indoors. Walk inside a mall. Play a physical game with your children or grandchildren. Put on some music and dance. Children love to dance.
#5 Go have fun.
This is probably one of the most important self-healing activities. Go and have fun. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it. But when we get caught up in the busy-ness of our lives, we sometimes forget to have fun.
If you are planning something fun for the holidays, put a photo of your destination and / or whom you are going to see on your bulletin board or screen saver. The happiness chemicals will start flooding in just from imagining how much fun you are going to have.
Paying attention to the little indicators or micro clues of impending burnout is important because when you ignore them, eventually you have an all-out explosion into burnout. This is probably the most critical part of self-care. And then the second half of self-care are the action steps: writing, friends, the sun, walking, and having fun.