Stress is a part of all of our lives. If stress is a major part of your daily life, you may be experiencing burnout. Burnout is a state of mental exhaustion from prolonged stress. Being burnt out could lead to depression if it goes untreated. There are a few times in my adult life I was really burnt out. The first was towards the end of my tenure as student body president for my Alma Mater. The second was more recent. Completing my first year at my current job, I experienced burnout on a different level. Here are some tips and tricks I use to manage my stress and to keep me from burning out.
I’ll start by saying stress management is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s unrealistic to believe that we can create a stress-free life in one weekend. It honestly takes time. So start by changing small aspects of your life that could relieve stress. It could be practicing self-care more often or taking it step by step to the major thing that triggers your stress. Putting pressure on yourself to create a stress-free life will only add more stress.
I like to practice one small step of self-care every day. Some days I’ll cook my favorite food, go for a walk, clean my room or something else really small that I can accomplish in one day. You don’t have to dedicate an entire day or hours to practice self-care. This helps keep me calm on most days so I can get a good night’s rest. Going to bed stressed will make your next day even worse in my opinion. So I try to do something to make me feel better about myself. Usually, anything that makes me feel accomplished or productive will do the trick. Have you ever did laundry during the middle of the week not because you needed to but to relieve some stress? Try it. It works!
Protect Your Boundaries
Balancing your work life and your personal life can be difficult, but it’s possible to create boundaries so neither gets to be too overwhelming. It’s so important to protect the boundaries you have so they don’t overlap too much. While at work, try to limit your time doing personal business. Sometimes it’s necessary, but don’t make a habit of handling personal business at work or doing work outside of the workplace. These mental boundaries come in handy because when you leave work or school, your mind switches gears. On the flipside, while at home, don’t respond to emails or other messages from work/school. Your time outside of work is precious and important. Don’t work for free. The world will not end because you waited until the next morning to respond to someone.
I made the decision to turn off all social media notifications on my phone. I don’t need to lose my concentration at work with my phone vibrating every time someone likes a post or makes a comment. I need to stay focused. I also try my best not to work from home. I schedule my time so I can complete most tasks during the workday. If not, I’ll come in early or stay late, but I’ll rarely work from home. For the times I do have to bring work home, I go to some space where I can focus outside of my apartment. I get too distracted. Also, I want to view my home as a relaxing, not a place for productivity. Finally, I put my phone on Do Not Disturb from 10 p.m.- 6 a.m. every day. It may sound silly but having a time where you aren’t interrupted is vital to destressing. Although I usually don’t go to sleep around 11, that final hour of me doing whatever I want uninterrupted is great. Those are the boundaries I set to keep myself sane. If you are experiencing burnout, try doing something to regain control of your boundaries. Have you ever put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” during the day? 10/10 would recommend.
Be Honest About Your Mental Health
When people ask us how we are doing, we can typically respond “good” or “fine” without even thinking about it. The majority of the time, we get asked this from a place of politeness instead of a genuine inquiry and I believe that needs change.
Mental health is still something that is not discussed enough. I do my best to be honest and upfront when I’m asked how I’m doing. I don’t care how awkward the moment comes when people have to ponder on what to say next. If you’re overwhelmed, overworked or exhausted, you should have permission to say it out loud. This doesn’t make you weak or lesser than. IT simply makes you honest. Imagine your coworkers or supervisors expressing their mental health with you. Wouldn’t you want to show them a little more compassion? I think they would do the same in return. Also, it’s okay to take mental health days from work or school. Sometimes you need a mental break from the places that trigger you. You wouldn’t go to work with a fever or if you aren’t feeling 100%. Why would you go to work when you’re mentally exhausted?
Give Yourself Grace
This is still probably the toughest one for me to adhere to. None of us are perfect. We know this, but sometimes we still put that pressure on ourselves. When we make mistakes or don’t get certain results, we let our inner voice go crazy with negative thoughts. Being your own worst critic can definitely cause burnout or make it worse. We got to learn how to kind to ourselves when we fall short to our own expectations. Ask yourself, “If my friend or a loved one was going through what I was going through, what would you tell them?” Would you berate them with every negative thought that came to mind? I hope not.
The best way I found to give myself grace is to tell my inner voice to “SHUT UP!” When negative thoughts start to form and I begin to be unkind to myself, I literally tell myself to shut up. I then give myself positive affirmations to balance myself out. For every bad thing I have to say about me not meeting a goal or struggling with something, I remind myself of positive things that keep me encouraged to continue. Be kind to yourself. You’ll never get to where you want to go if you’re being controlled by your worst inner critic. As Beyonce once said, “Be your own best friend.”
Being burnt out is a underrated mental issue. I hope you can find these tips helpful as you navigate through this thing we call life. Don’t feel afraid to get professional guidance if you feel that your stress is more than you can bear. Your life and mental well-being are important. You got this!
What’s been stressing you out lately?