10 Unique Ways To Recover From Burnout Throughout The Day
I understand how you are feeling right now. You’re exhausted, overwhelmed, and feel like you are being stretched to your limits. Work has been beating you up and you feel like your batteries haven’t been able to fully recharge lately. With uncertainty on when this will end, you fear that you’ll soon reach zero percent. You may be suffering from an increasingly common state in the workplace: burnout.
What is Burnout?
HelpGuide defines burnout as “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” Those who experience this state find themselves drained and unmotivated; and not just in one area of their life.
Unfortunately, burnout in one area affects all areas of your life, including work, home, and relationships with family and friends. As burnout continues, an individual can begin to feel helpless, even resentful towards those in their environment.
How does one get like this? What causes burnout?
Burnout in the workplace is often caused by accumulating stress and chaos. The Mayo Clinic lists several possible causes of job burnout:
- Lack of control
- Unclear job expectations
- Dysfunctional workplace dynamics
- Extremes of activity
- Lack of social support
- Work-life imbalance
As you read the list, you might realize that you are experiencing one, or many, of these circumstances.
What Can You Do?
In an ideal world, you would be able to cure your burnout by taking a few weeks off from work to recover and reduce your stress levels. While some may have that luxury, most of us don’t. For the majority who can’t take extended time off, we share 10 ways to recover from burnout throughout your day.
Individually, these tips can seem negligible. However, when you use them together you can see a refreshing improvement to your well-being.
10 Ways To Recover From Burnout Throughout the Day
1. Make your mornings sacred
Your mornings offer a chance to have peace, quiet, and control. Even if you only have an hour before heading to the office, you can use that hourly wisely to start your day off on track.
When you wake up, refrain from scrolling through your phone. The stimulation will interrupt your peace and state of mind. Instead of having the morning to yourself, you are reacting to what you see on your phone.
With burnout, you can’t afford to give away any more of your attention and energy.
Speaking of attention and energy, add exercise and meditation to your morning routine. I know you are busy, but these two activities don’t need to take long. If you can only fit in 10 minutes of exercise, so be it. That will be enough to energize you for the day. As for meditation, even five minutes a day will help you out.
Exercise, meditation, and minimal phone usage will empower you to take on the day.
2. Pick the right music (or no music) for your commutes
Burnout can be caused by overstimulation of the mind. When obligations pile up, your mind is constantly pacing back and forth, worrying about one thing or another.
Take advantage of any moment you can to wind down and clear your mind. Playing a high-paced EDM song on your way to work can get your heart rate up, but it can also be overstimulating. You’re taking in the beats and lyrics and your mind is engaged.
Use your commute to relax and recharge. Driving in silence can be therapeutic. If silence is unbearable, play soft music with no lyrics. My go-to genre is lo-fi.
3. Go on short walks every few hours
During a state of burnout, your willpower, energy, and attention span suffer. To combat this, go on short walks every few hours, preferably outside in the sun. These walks can be as short as five minutes if needed.
I typically take a walk at 11:00 a.m., after lunch, and at 3:30. Here are three major benefits to taking short walks:
- You give your mind a much-needed break to recharge.
- Walking is a form of low-intensity exercise that gets blood and oxygen moving through your body.
- If the sun is out, you’ll benefit from rays that can boost vitamin D levels and your overall mood.
4. No phone usage during pockets of downtime
Throughout the day, everyone has short pockets of downtime. Examples include:
- Waiting in line
- Eating lunch
- Taking a break in between meetings
- Waiting for something to load on your computer
- Waiting for coffee to brew
During these periods, most individuals use their phones. Don’t be like most individuals.
A common theme here is that your mental resources are finite when you’re going through burnout. You want to take every opportunity you can to give your mind a break.
Use these pockets of time to your advantage. As an example, I typically use these opportunities for mini-meditations. I clear my mind, breathe deeply, and find myself much more grounded in the end.
5. Get the right fuel in you
What you fuel your body and mind with is critical to your energy levels and cognitive performance. Here are some general tips to guide you:
- Eat a light breakfast, predominantly consisting of protein and healthy fats.
- Have snacks prior to lunch and after lunch to maintain energy levels. Avoid snacks high in sugars and simple carbs.
- Hydrate with water throughout the day.
- Use caffeine sparingly.
- At lunch, eat until you are satisfied. Overeating can lead to an afternoon slump.
6. Make lunch as pleasant as possible
While we are on the topic of eating, let’s talk about lunchtime. Professionals look forward to lunch because of the food and for the chance to break away from their desks.
Work to make lunch as pleasant as possible. Eat enjoyable (yet healthy) food and surround yourself with entertaining and uplifting people. Most have a friend or group of friends they grab lunch with every day.
Think about how you are spending your lunchtime. Is it making your day better or is it making your day even worse? If it is the latter, change up your lunch routine and who you associate with.
7. Save administrative tasks for the afternoon
Burnout is all about resource management. As we have stated, your willpower is minimal during this phase. You should see it as a precious resource that needs to be allocated effectively.
Willpower is strongest at the start of the day and gradually depletes over the course of the day.
With this in mind, you should use the first part of your day for tasks that require a lot of willpower and brainpower. Save administrative tasks for the back half of the day. These are tasks that don’t require as much energy and focus to complete.
For example, work on your big pitch presentation in the morning since it takes analysis and creativity to complete.
Save routine administrative work, such as reading daily operating reports, for the afternoon.
8. When your workday is done, fully disconnect
This tip is easier said than done. When your workday is finished, try to fully disconnect from work. That means no longer thinking about work or checking work emails. It’s far too common for professionals to continue working even though they are technically “off.”
Although they clock out, the thought of work lingers on their mind. When individuals do this, they prevent themselves from enjoying their time off.
You should be thoughtful about your downtime. Make it a mission to think about anything other than work. This can help you recover from burnout.
9. Work on a hobby, even if only for a short period of time
Everyone has something they enjoy doing in their free time. Some create art, some play sports, and others play video games. It doesn’t matter what your hobby is. The point is that it’s something that you look forward to doing.
Try to fit in time each day to work on your hobby. Your hobby brings enjoyment and allows you to escape from the world that is currently taking its toll on you.
10. Optimize the sleep available to you
Whether it’s eight hours or four hours, you should work to optimize the sleep available to you. Setting yourself up for a restorative slumber is the best thing you can do to recover from burnout. Here are several essential things you can do to improve your sleep:
- Sleep in as close to pitch-black darkness as possible. Get blackout curtains and remove bright light sources such as nightlights.
- Avoid looking at screens an hour before bed.
- Set a caffeine curfew of 2:00 p.m. If you consume caffeine too late, it can keep you up.
- Keep your body cool. Set the room temperature to 60° to 68°F.
- Get more sunlight during the day to regulate your biological clock.
- Exercise in the morning or early afternoon. Late-night exercise can make it difficult to fall asleep on time.
- Practice meditation to calm the chatter in your head.
Burnout is something you are bound to encounter at some point in your career. In the moment, it can feel like the world is collapsing on you. Having these 10 tips in your back pocket can help you weather the storm and overcome burnout.
Article by Brandon Hill. Brandon is the creator of Bizness Professionals, a resource to current or aspiring young professionals for well-rounded growth and career development. Outside of his blog, he continues to work in the field of finance.