That feeling when everything is just too much. Extreme tiredness. A lack of interest in things, feeling negative emotions like frustration, anger or sadness all the time. The experiencing of chronic stress. An ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment, in work and life. Physical and emotional exhaustion. Feeling like there’s a dark shadow over your life, that the light has been blown out. All of a sudden, the things that used to be fun are so heavy.
Burnout often goes further than just only job stress. It takes over your whole life and being and it doesn’t go away by itself. The high demands and expectations of society nowadays don’t improve the workaholic state of a perfectionist either. You really have to make drastic changes in life and it can take some time to find a balance between energy givers and takers.
Eleven things that will refuel your engine and set your life back on fire:
- Listen to your body and follow your heart. Learn to recognize the physical signs that indicate you’re overstressed—e.g., headaches, stiff shoulders and neck, stomach pain—and in which situations they occur. Similarly, become aware of the things that make you really happy. Before you go to sleep, look back to what made you smile that day. See if you can discover a pattern over time and focus on your heart.
- Nurture yourself in the right way. Give yourself the nutrition you need, which is not always that which you’re craving. Build up a supportive diet with healthy clean food full of vitamins, minerals and proteins. Be careful with sugars and carbs, they will only give you short-term gratification and will not nurture you in the long run. Nourishment comes in different ways. Find out for yourself what is right for you.
- Surround yourself with uplifting people. Reflect upon your social circle. Which people make your heart tick and which ones are making you feel more dead than alive? Stop being preoccupied with pleasing people. Ask yourself every time you meet someone whether you do this for yourself or to please someone else.
- Be active. Although it sounds contradictory, if you’re suffering from exhaustion, move. Activation is one of the keys to improve people’s moods. Through exercise and movement, the release of feel-good brain chemicals is being activated. It increases serotonin production and can reduce immune system chemicals that can worsen your mood.
- Create a structure and routine. Plan your day and make sure that you make good decisions about your health, nutrition and sleep, relaxation time and quality time with loved ones. The ability to stick to the routine will help you boost your self-esteem, something that may have burned out too.
- Set healthy boundaries. Make a list of what’s really important in your life and dedicate time and attention to this. Learn to say no to others. People will respect you for this. By caring less about others, they will care more about you.
- Take time to breathe and relax. Fit in a practice of relaxation techniques in your daily life. Find a way that works for you, based on your needs, your lifestyle and the way you tend to react to stress. Relaxation techniques in combination with proper breathing exercises releases deeply stored tension and stress in the body on the level of the autonomic nervous system.
- Practice yoga. Mindful movements with conscious awareness has been demonstrated to have a much more beneficial impact on the central nervous system than other forms of physical exercise. Practicing yoga increases the relaxation response over the stress response in the body. Also, stretching the muscles releases endorphins, the hormones that create a happy feeling and reduce pain. Moreover, the practice of yoga decreases physiological arousal resulting in a lowering of the heart rate and blood pressure and eases respiration. The heart rate variability, an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress more flexibly, is increased when practicing yoga.
- Decrease impulses from outside. Detach from your electronic devices and television. Integrate quiet time before you go to sleep. Delegate certain times to check your email. Less is more. Simplify your life and detach from things that are overwhelming you.
- Find your passion. What makes you really feel alive? Find a hobby that you love. Make a bucket list of things you always wanted to do in your life and do them. Set goals on how to incorporate this into your daily life. Do at least one thing every day that makes you happy.
- Practice mindfulness. Learn that enough is enough. There will always be something to work on and things will never be perfect. Become a human being instead of a human doing. Step out of the train of thoughts in your head and learn to be with whatever there is. Observe yourself from a distance. Focus on acceptance and compassion, which will make your life much easier. Let go of emotions and identifications.
You are not your burnout. It’s a state of being that comes and goes and you are more than that.