Career burnout is a state of physical or emotional exhaustion characterized by a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity. It’s also the price we pay when ambition and unrealistic expectations overwhelm our better judgment. Once it takes hold, burnout can rob you of motivation and curiosity, leaving you unable to handle even the most common everyday tasks. Even minor tasks seem insurmountable. Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, bitterness, and cynicism may ultimately take control. The busier you are, the more you need to break the self-perpetuating chain of stress before burnout takes hold.
If you’re not sure whether you’re at risk for burnout, survey your lifestyle. Make lists of how much time you spend at work, how often you enjoy quality time with family, and how much time you spend caring for yourself. Be honest and objective, and be prepared to act on your findings. If your life is out of whack, you need to balance the scales by making time for self-care.
Nurture Your Need
It’s vital that you make time for self-care. Ideally, one should schedule time for exercise and relaxation, but that can be difficult when so much depends on you at the office and at home. If there’s no way to schedule two hours at the gym every day, go for a walk outside at lunchtime and walk the stairs at work to get your blood circulating. Use your daily commute as time for relaxing music or a book on DVD, something that takes your mind off the sources of anxiety. Somehow, you need to break the cycle of stress and nurture your need for relaxation.
Busy people tend to let important things slide, like healthy eating, getting enough sleep, and adequate exercise. You can quickly wear down and succumb to the effects of stress by not paying attention to bodily requirements. Trying to manage a sleep deficit leaves you vulnerable to illness and makes it difficult to concentrate. A poor diet is hard on everything from major organs to gut health, and ignoring exercise can lead to weight gain, fatigue, diabetes, and a host of dangerous conditions. So, try substituting a healthy dietary choice every week if you’re accustomed to settling for fast food. Also, get at least seven hours by getting to bed at the same time every night. Finally, look for new ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily regimen.
These days, talking into a Bluetooth device or staring into a smartphone are signs of a busy professional. Our devices keep us connected and they’re convenient business tools, but they can take over our lives. Once a day, shut down your smartphone or computer and don’t answer emails or texts. Use the respite to refocus your thoughts and get outside for some fresh air.
The Great Outdoors
Fresh air is good for the lungs, but there are many other benefits to being outdoors. Sunlight is nature’s mood enhancer and an efficient source of vitamin D, which is good for skin, teeth, and hair. But just being outside, beyond the constraints of office and deadline-driven responsibility, can refresh the soul. Start an outdoor hobby, like gardening, kite-flying, or surfing.
If you’re new to surfing, for instance, a few lessons can have you riding the waves in no time. If you are a beginner, spend some time researching surfboards to find one that’s right for you, as they come in different lengths and weights. Surfing is a great form of cardio and a whole-body workout, and people who have done it for years swear by it as a form of stress relief.
Stress and career burnout are common symptoms of an unbalanced and unfulfilling lifestyle. Break the chain of stress and anxiety by changing your daily routine and making time for things you enjoy. Sometimes, all it takes is a new outlook and a tweak of your perspective to keep you feeling invigorated, refreshed, and motivated.
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Julie Morris is a Life and Career Coach. To learn more about her — or to get in touch — please visit her website.