If every day feels like a bad day, you might be facing burnout—here’s how to cope

I know what it feels like when each day seems harder than the last, when you’re constantly feeling drained and unenthusiastic. It’s not just a string of bad days—you might be facing burnout.

Burnout doesn’t just show up overnight. It’s a gradual process that creeps in as we push ourselves too hard and forget to take time for rest and reflection.

When you’re stuck in this cycle, it can seem impossible to break free. But don’t worry, I’ve been there too, and there are ways to cope. Here are some strategies I’ve learned to combat burnout and regain your spark.

1) Recognize the signs

Burnout isn’t like flipping a switch—it doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a gradual process, creeping in as you continue to push yourself, often ignoring the signs your body and mind are sending you.

Think about it. You start to dread the start of each workday, your creativity and productivity seem to be on a constant decline, and no amount of sleep seems to shake off the fatigue.

When every day starts to feel like a bad day, it’s time to recognize that you might be dealing with more than just temporary stress—you could be facing burnout.

Recognizing the signs of burnout is the first, crucial step towards addressing it. And trust me, acknowledging the problem is half the battle won.

But remember, this isn’t about self-diagnosis or jumping to conclusions. It’s about being aware of your mental and physical state and taking steps to care for your well-being. If things don’t improve or get worse, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

2) Make self-care a priority

This is something that I learned the hard way. For a long time, I was one of those people who believed that being busy equated to being successful. I’d push myself to work long hours, skipping meals and sacrificing sleep in the process.

There was a point when I realized that I was running on fumes. I was feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. That’s when I knew something had to change.

I started by setting boundaries for my work hours and made sure to take regular breaks throughout the day. I also made it a point to eat balanced meals and get enough sleep every night.

And you know what? It made a world of difference. Not only did I feel better physically, but my productivity and creativity also improved significantly.

So, if you’re feeling burnout creeping in, don’t ignore the importance of self-care. Listen to your body and give it the rest it needs. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

3) Get moving

Exercise is not just about maintaining physical health or achieving aesthetic goals. It plays a crucial role in our mental well-being too. In fact, regular physical activity has been found to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, two common signs of burnout.

When you engage in physical activity, your body releases endorphins—chemicals in your brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. They help relieve stress, improve sleep, and boost self-esteem.

So, whether it’s a morning jog, a quick yoga session during your lunch break, or a dance class in the evening, find some time to get moving. It doesn’t have to be a strenuous workout— even a quick walk around the block can help clear your mind and reduce stress levels.

4) Practice mindfulness

In the midst of all the chaos, it’s easy to lose track of the present moment. That’s where mindfulness comes in. It’s about being fully engaged in the here and now, without getting lost in thoughts about the past or worries about the future.

Practicing mindfulness can be as simple as paying full attention to your breath, feeling the sensation of your feet hitting the ground as you walk, or truly savoring each bite of your meal.

By helping you focus on the present, mindfulness reduces stress and helps you gain a better understanding of your emotions and reactions. This can be particularly helpful when dealing with burnout, as it allows you to recognize and address negative feelings before they escalate.

Consider setting aside a few minutes each day for mindfulness exercises or meditation. It might feel strange at first, but with practice, it can become a powerful tool for managing stress and preventing burnout.

5) Reach out and connect

When you’re feeling burned out, it’s easy to isolate yourself, but remember, you’re not alone. Reaching out to others and sharing your feelings can provide a much-needed sense of relief and understanding.

This could be talking to a trusted friend or family member about what you’re going through. It could be connecting with a mentor or coach who can provide guidance. Or it could be seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor.

Sharing your experience not only helps you feel understood and less alone, but it can also provide you with new perspectives and strategies for dealing with your situation.

Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. You don’t have to navigate through burnout on your own.

6) Be kind to yourself

This one, I cannot emphasize enough. When every day feels like a bad day and you’re in the throes of burnout, it’s easy to be hard on yourself. But remember, it’s okay to not be okay.

You’re not a machine. You have limits, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed at times. It doesn’t make you weak, and it certainly doesn’t make you a failure.

Instead of beating yourself up over the things you cannot do or control, try to focus on the things you’ve accomplished, no matter how small they may seem.

So take a deep breath. Give yourself the permission to rest, to make mistakes, to ask for help. Show yourself the same kindness and patience you would offer a friend in a similar situation. Because you, too, deserve that compassion and understanding.

7) Rediscover your passion

A few years ago, when I was at the peak of my career, I hit a wall. I was burned out and couldn’t figure out why. That’s when I realized that I had lost touch with my passion—the very reason why I started down this path in the first place.

So, I took some time to reconnect with what inspired me. I revisited old projects, started reading more about my field and even explored new hobbies outside of work. Surprisingly, it wasn’t just about reigniting my professional passion—it was also about finding balance and joy in other areas of life, too.

If you’re feeling burned out, it might be a sign that you’ve lost touch with your passion. Take some time to reconnect with what you love about your work or explore new interests. It can provide a fresh perspective and reignite your motivation.

8) Set realistic goals

When you’re feeling burned out, it’s crucial to reassess your goals. Are they realistic? Are they aligned with your values and passions? Or are they causing unnecessary stress and pressure?

Setting unrealistic or unachievable goals can contribute significantly to feelings of burnout. It’s like constantly chasing a finish line that keeps moving further away.

Instead, try setting smaller, achievable goals. Celebrate each success, no matter how small. This not only helps build momentum but also boosts your confidence and motivation.

Remember, it’s okay to set boundaries and say no when things get too much. You are in control of your life and well-being, and it’s important to set goals that reflect that.

9) It’s a journey, not a destination

When it comes to dealing with burnout, remember this—recovery is a journey, not a destination. There’s no quick fix or magic pill. It takes time, patience, and consistent effort.

It’s about making small changes in your daily routine, setting boundaries, asking for help when needed, and most importantly, being kind to yourself.

So don’t rush the process or get disheartened if progress seems slow. Each step you take towards prioritizing your well-being, no matter how small, is a victory in itself.

Final thoughts: It’s about balance

As we navigate through the ebbs and flows of life, it’s essential to remember that our well-being, both physical and mental, is a delicate ecosystem. And just like any ecosystem, balance is key.

Burnout often sneaks up on us when this balance is disrupted. It’s a sign that we’ve been pushing ourselves too hard and not giving ourselves the care and rest we need.

Remember, it’s okay to slow down. It’s okay to ask for help. And most importantly, it’s okay to prioritize your well-being.

The American psychologist Abraham Maslow once said, “You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.” Dealing with burnout is a step forward into growth. It’s about learning to listen to your body and mind, setting boundaries, reconnecting with your passions, and cultivating resilience.

So as you reflect on this journey of dealing with burnout, remember—it’s not about reaching a destination. It’s about taking one step at a time towards creating a balanced and fulfilling life.

Picture of Graeme

Graeme

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