No matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to get the motivation to complete the smallest tasks? Little things like getting out of bed or taking a shower feel nearly insurmountable? These and more are often caused by burnout — the body’s natural response when it can no longer cope with stress. There’s no easy fix or magic pill to cure it, but we have some tips that might help.
What is Burnout?
Burnout is real, and it can happen to anyone. We face burnout when we’re constantly dealing with overwhelming, nonstop stress with no time to recover. As a result, we become so spent that we’re left feeling perpetually tired, unmotivated and pessimistic. Some of us may even get sick, lose our appetite and have trouble sleeping.
The consequences of burnout are serious, but sometimes, we can be the last ones to see the signs. Consider this your wake-up call. If this sounds like you, maybe it’s a good time to stop and think about how you’re nurturing yourself.
Start with Self-Awareness
When life gets tough, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. It’s totally normal to be stressed, but too much stress for too long can have incredibly negative impacts on your physical and mental health. It’s hard to enjoy life when you don’t even have the energy to get out of bed in the morning.
The first step toward healing burnout is to recognize that it’s happening to you — but even that can be a big challenge. Awareness starts with becoming more in tune with yourself and connecting with your feelings.
Ask yourself questions like:
- Have I been taking care of my basic needs, such as sleeping, eating, bathing and taking my prescribed medications?
- What has my mood been like lately? Has my mood been sporadic, unpredictable or dull?
- When was the last time I felt truly happy?
- What am I doing, intentionally or unintentionally, to cope with my stress? Is this a healthy way of dealing with stress?
These answers are often highly revealing, yet all too commonly, we ignore them when what we really need is to make time to slow down.
How to Prevent Burnout
It’s easier to prevent burnout than treat it. There are a few things you can to do before you reach that critical point where you’re just over it and can’t find the motivation to care:
- Reach out to our friends and family when you need to vent. Venting and complaining have their place and can be constructive.
- Listen to your body and nourish it by getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising regularly. Yes, that means not sitting inside all day with your nose to the grindstone. Even a 10-minute walk helps.
- Find ways to remind yourself of your greater purpose. This is slightly different for every person. For some, it’s spending time with a pet or a child. For others, it’s spiritual guidance or even just being creative.
- Remind yourself of the good in the world, and your life, by listing what you’re grateful for. Update your gratitude list often.
- Learn to say no without feeling guilty about it. You’re human. You have limits. And that’s absolutely okay.
If you’re already in so deep that you can’t see a way out, don’t be afraid to ask for help, too. Depression is very real and may be connected to high stress and burnout. If you need someone to talk to now, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. They’re available 24/7, and you don’t have to feel suicidal to call.
At the end of the day, only you know what you really need. When you’re burned out, it’s okay to indulge in a little (or a lot) of self-care so you can get back to being the best version of yourself. Make yourself one of your priorities, and you’ll find your path back to a healthy work-life balance in no time.