Three Tips that Get You Off the Highway to Burnout
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” – Lao Tse
Everybody knows that sustainable productivity requires occasional rest, but it is a hard balance to strike. Given that researchers have found time and again that prolonged stress causes burnout, how can we interrupt work-related worries before they go too far?
As a rabbi, this question brings to mind the wisdom of the Jewish prayer cycles. Following this ideology, we set up daily, weekly, and as-needed moments for regular time off to realign, reflect, and reinvigorate. Preventative healthcare works in much the same way. Daily nourishment, weekly deeper dives, and immediate actions when required (PRNs), help prevent crises of large proportions. To avoid having to call in the “paramedics,” we should favor regular check-ups and healthy choices.
Here are three approaches—and one foundational principle—to get you moving in a balanced, more sustainable direction.
The Daily Dose
Take moments for rest and refreshment
- Connect with what brings you bliss. Engage in activities that make you feel delighted and fulfilled. This can range from a conversation with a good friend to a delicious meal on your lunch break.
- Find beautiful places and experiences that rejuvenate you. I highly recommend time in nature. A short walk through a park during break time can ease your nervous system and lower your stress levels.
- Aim for 90 minutes of delightful time each day, or at least 90 minutes of intentional unplugged moments. This can include meals and time at home.
The Weekly Practice
Find time for prolonged refreshment and visit your “inner oasis”
- Plan in advance. Schedule downtime in your calendar each week and protect it like the fragile treasure that it is!
- Find social balance. Get together with loved ones who bring positivity into your life or, if you need more quiet in your life, carve out space in your schedule for solo-time.
- Like the daily dose of blissful activities above, do activities that make you feel wonderful in body, heart, and mind — but take a longer period of time to really engage with them. Anything from a hike to a nap is helpful. It is all about what makes you feel alive, content, and relaxed.
Learn how to hit the brakes or take corrective measures if you feel unexpectedly overwhelmed
- Put your phone down and take a 5-minute walk around the block.
- Move somewhere besides your desk and have a snack.
- Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes, and count 10 slow in and out breaths.
- In the simplest sense, as-needed moments to reduce stress involve taking a step back from your work and engaging your body or mind in a positive—or at least neutral—direction for a few minutes.
Unplug From Your Devices
No matter when or how you seek rest and relaxation, disconnecting from technology, social media, computer and TV screens, etc., is a prerequisite for all of these practices. There is a time for entertainment and notifications, but true, deep and rejuvenating experiences require attention to the joy and abundance of the here and now.
Taking the Road Less Traveled
It is not uncommon for people to spend the majority of their day involved in the work environment. It is essential to recognize the impact this has on individuals and organizations alike. By implementing the detours above to get off the highway to burnout, you can be part of creating a culture of well-being and productivity that benefits everyone. You do not need to be shy about your regular routine of taking that exit ramp. Letting others know that you take daily moments for rest and refreshment, unplugging from technology, and prioritizing weekly time for prolonged rejuvenation encourages them to do the same. By doing so, you’ll not only enhance the health and happiness of yourself and everyone around you, but also improve engagement, retention, and overall business performance.
As Emily Nagoski, the co-author of the book Burnout points out “…the cure for burnout is not self-care. The cure for burnout is all of us caring for each other.” Remember, a company is only as strong as its people, so let’s prioritize self-care and create a more sustainable and successful future for all.
Written by Matthew Ponak.
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