How to Avoid Burnout

Thursday, 7 September, 2023 - 4:28 pm

We all go through it. It is called by different names by different cultures and nations. Some call it a midlife crisis while I call it burnout. Besides, I know so many who are afflicted way before midlife and quite a few who are afflicted much later on in life. I call it burnout because that is exactly what it feels like. Burnout. A complete depletion of brain and emotional powers to the point of exhaustion. Not unlike a candle that has run out of wax and has no light to offer even to itself.

It is a terrible feeling and extremely intense to be in the middle of burnout. There are, however, thankfully, some tricks of the trade to deal with it, preferably before the onset of a burnout. These words of wisdom can help during the burnout period as well.

The following are some of the proven ways to prevent burnout or to ameliorate the length and severity if already afflicted.

Instead of one’s every single thought being lodged (read stuck) in one’s brain creating overload in the cerebrum of the central nervous system, one should continuously do a brain dump by purging the thoughts onto paper.
Writing down one’s thoughts is a power move as it gives one a chance to process these thoughts on paper where one can read and reread without having to worry as to what will be forgotten or not. It also allows for negativity to be placed on a piece of paper which is external to our brains and bodies. Keeping this stuff inside can be quite unhealthy, while getting it out is so cathartic and will actually make you feel better.
Another beauty of journaling is that you can track how far you have come. You will be able to see certain resolutions you have processed and are now at peace with. You can inspire yourself by seeing how far you have come.

There is something very special about music as it can be so uplifting and inspiring. I once read that a solo dance party is the best way to shake off the doldrums. Put in some airpods, turn on a lively happy song and pop up the volume and let yourself go. The serotonin will begin flowing and the negativity will start dissipating.
There are different types, styles and genres of music because we are different. Pick music that will float your boat. I do think that we all can agree that funeral music is probably not the best choice if an uplift is desired though.

Sometimes you just gotta go when you gotta go. This can be for a weekend or a week. This can be planned or done spontaneously when the need arises. The bottom line is that we all need some time off. It is inhumane to be on continuously without pause. I once saw a meme where someone wrote that they cannot think about retiring, and that they will have to work until lunchtime on the day of their funeral. It is so important to change the environment every so often.
To use the argument that you do not have the time is foolish. Make the time. If you feel that you cannot leave your job as you are so crucial to the project at hand, I am going to be blunt. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is expendable, including you. You are not the only talent or thinker out there. Your work will do fine without you even if you never return. Think of it this way, your work will be better served if you take a break and come back refreshed.

Once you come back from some R & R, be careful not to fall into the same trap of overworking yourself. Be mindful and take breaks. Go outside. Sit on the grass with your shoes off and close your eyes for a few minutes. So many of the Fortune 500 companies have created a break room where there are mini pods for someone to take a power nap. I personally like to walk around my office building a few times enjoying the fresh air.

It is so important to do things that you enjoy doing, whether it be going out to eat, the waterfront, a concert or just chill with friends. You must live a life worth living. Just to wake up, go to work, eat dinner, and then go to sleep only to do the same thing the next morning is not a good life. We must intersperse our days, weeks and months with family visits, wine tasting and a Cuban cigar. All these are examples that I can think of. Enjoyment can come in many forms.

The adage a friend in need is a friend indeed comes to mind. Life is not meant to be a solo trip. There are all types of vocations that help us get through life. We have gardeners, dentists, attorneys, doctors, and street sweepers. Simply put, we cannot do everything by ourselves. So why should we go through life without it being enriched by someone whose company you enjoy and lean on at the same time. Just talking it out helps purge the toxicity. Even if the friend just sits and listens to you and vice versa and speaks minimally. It is so vastly important. I cannot underscore the power of this medicine called a friend.

Looking at life through the Facebook page of someone you know is nothing short of toxic. It is simply a fabricated story of existence and is the furthest thing from reality. I firmly believe that the creation of the personal handheld computer called a cell phone with all its glorious capabilities is the ruination of society, as it is simply too much information with most of it not vetted or even needed. The bottom line is that screen time of all kinds needs to be minimized as there is nothing real about it. To call it virtual reality is absurd. More like virtual dishonesty.
In addition, much of the news is either divisive, offensive or too troubling to read or watch. It always amazes me that good news travels at the speed of molasses while bad news travels at the speed of light.

Many times, burnout occurs because we are overextended and try to do too many things for too many people. We need to place healthy boundaries around ourselves to ensure that we are the captain of our own ship. For many, the present company included, this is not an easy thing to do. Therapists are taught as part of their training to perfect what is called compassion with borders. This is to ensure that a particular client or two does not burn them out.
I recall with vivid pain the following boundaryless episode that happened to me. I share this story simply to bring awareness that having no boundaries will end up causing pain. I was at Disney with the family and someone back home had a loss. They called me to assist them with the funeral. I told them that I was away, but they pleaded that they really needed me in their time of desperation. I proceeded to leave my family in Disney while I went to help this individual bury their loved one. My wife was furious and my kids were upset. I, on the other hand, did what I had thought I had to do.
Fast forward a few years. This individual has now moved out of state, and despite my attempts to keep in touch and continue a great relationship, he does not return my calls any longer and I have outlived my usefulness. This realization that he was done with me brought great distress. I mean, come on, after all I have done for him. I even left….. After all is said and done, if I can be honest, the real offending party was me and not him. Yes, he got his way on his terms, but who allowed this to happen? Me!
A huge lesson – hopefully learned.

The bottom line is that we must give ourselves the respect that we would surely give others. We need to learn to say no if something does not feel right. At the very least tell the person that you need to think about it. This will allow you to process the request to see if it actually crosses a boundary.

Not my bailiwick, but good nutrition and exercise is vital. A healthy body and a healthy mind work in tandem.

All the above advice is by no means comprehensive. Feel free to add something positive in your life that will make you feel alive.

Now go live.

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