In a recent post, I shared my thoughts on emotions and burnout and practical strategies on how someone who is experiencing burnout can reframe their experiences and persevere through them.
We all have felt it at some point, perhaps most notably in the last two years. When we feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed for a period of time – or when we feel out of control – we become exhausted. After a while, we begin to “burnout.” The last 2.5 years were unprecedented years for burnout, and a wide range of emotions: fear of COVID, grief, anxiety about the changes in our daily lives, uncertainty about climate change and the future, anger about racial injustice, gratitude for blessings in our lives, and impatience. We want to move forward.
Let’s take a look at what burnout is and what it could look like.
People sometimes feel stuck in one or more of these emotions, which might feel even more intense in the context of illness, upheavals in education as well as economics and the fight for racial justice that impacts us all. The result? Many of us have been exhausted for months.
This emotional exhaustion and continued stress over time – especially with no real end in sight – leads to burnout. Burnout is about more than being physically tired and not wanting to get out of bed. Think about your experience at work. Are you experiencing any of the following…
- Less patience and more irritability
- Feelings of alienation or disillusionment
- Feeling less fulfilled or satisfied with your job
- Trouble sleeping, or sleeping too much
- Eating or drinking too much
- Increased headaches or stomachaches
If any of these are familiar, you may be experiencing burnout. The good news is that there are ways to heal and move forward with a greater sense of well being.
7 Ways To Persevere Through Emotional Burnout
Some of these suggestions are grounded in decades (and in some cases, centuries) of research.
- The first and foundational practice, based on research from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence: give yourself the permission to have all your feelings – without judgment and with curiosity and compassion.
- Adopt a mindfulness practice and make it your own.
- Check in with your self-care basics: you know, the things your mom likely told you, like investing (your energy, no money needed) in a sleep routine that delivers a good 7 – 8 hours each night. Eat nutritiously, and, as I am sure you know: veggies and good carbs, low sugar and protein and lots of water. Move your body with activities like yoga, swimming, exercise, dance, walking, or cycling.
- Try on an attitude of gratitude, not just in the moment, but daily. Full disclosure: I say a gratitude mantra every morning as I make my bed! I recommend that you find a daily routine that incorporates gratitude. Spend a few minutes each day giving thanks for all you have and for the people in your life who love you. Consider including those essential workers who make sure that our grocery shelves are stocked, those people who care for others, the people who deliver things to us, and so on.
- Surround yourself with people who lift your spirits and be a person who lifts other’s spirits.
- Find those things that bring joy and fun into your life – and do them! A game of chess, for example. Or, how about charades? Flying a kite? Hula hooping is a favorite of mine. What’s yours?
- Tell a story – to yourself and others – about these challenging and stressful times. Include something that you learned about yourself, some kernel of good that emerged during an otherwise tremendously tough time (that tough time that resulted in your feeling burned out). Scientists tell us that using reframing to tell a positive or hopeful story is a pathway to resilience. Many people now talk about how they realize after being forced to put things on ‘pause’ that they like spending more time with family; some discovered that they liked to cook; some people tapped into strength they didn’t know they had in order to care for others and themselves. In some way, living through COVID has changed us all. This is your opportunity to capture the positive ways it changed you.
So, what did you learn and discover about yourself in the past two and a half years? It’s worth thinking about and hold onto as you persevere through burnout, in order to restore your spirit with well-being practices. Embrace more than one. You are worth it!
Dr. Robin Stern Tackles ‘Emotional Burnout’ With The Help Of Oji Life Lab
If you are experiencing burnout at home or at your workplace, Oji Life Labs can help you become your best self as a parent, partner, or manager.