If you’re feeling high amounts of stress or burnout, I want you to know you’re not the first to experience this, nor seek stress relief! Even when it feels impossible, you deserve relief.
First, let’s define burnout and how it creates all types of chaos in our daily lives. The Mayo Clinic does a great job at describing job burnout, which I think can be extremely helpful in describing burnout in general.
“—a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity”The Mayo Clinic
Loss of identity? Emotional exhaustion? Well, that doesn’t sound good. It definitely sounds like symptoms of stress and burnout. It’s pretty clear to see how those symptoms can emerge in other facets of our life.
Burnout does not happen in a vacuum. This means that there are probably multiple factors to why you’re feeling the burnout. Burnout may happen because there is a lot going on in your life and you’re not sure how to handle it all (most of us have experienced this).
Or maybe it’s because you’ve been neglecting self-care and you don’t have the energy or stamina to invest in anything at the moment.
I would usually mention now that the why doesn’t matter, as every person’s why will be different, but your why actually does matter for your stress relief. The why behind your burnout will help you craft identify what you need to recover and help you prepare for it so it doesn’t happen again.
Without the why or understanding the why, your burnout will definitely rear its ugly head once again.
But experiencing stress is normal, for all of us, and we shouldn’t run from it. Being highly stressed or experiencing moments of overwhelm is a part of life’s journey and it is unavoidable. However that doesn’t mean that we can’t find better ways to deal with it.
If you want to achieve stress relief, there are 4 steps you can take starting today. These steps will help you understand the reasoning behind your burnout and help you move into a space where you don’t feel so burdened by the stressors of life.
The first step to achieving stress relief is reflection. In order to prevent something from happening again, you have to first reflect on why it happened in the first place. You can’t begin to correct what’s wrong until you have a deeper understanding of your why.
You can begin to reflect by first identifying your inner feelings or emotions. Is it nervousness? Anxiety? Fear? What is it that you are experiencing or feeling that is completely draining you?
For me, it took a whole lot of anxiety to realize that I was in fact, experiencing burnout.
Once you can identify the feeling or emotion, then start to work backwards to form your why. Journaling is a great way to walk through your thoughts and understand all the dilemmas that you are currently facing. You can also talk it aloud with yourself or with all loved one.
You just want to be able to identify what you’re feeling, you don’t have to wallow in it. Sounds weird, but honestly there is nothing wrong with having a honest conversation with yourself. It’s actually needed!
Take some space today to reflect. Get into a quiet and peaceful environment, whatever that may look like for you, and reflect on what is causing your burnout. Some stressors in life are uncontrollable, but this is a great time to see if there is any changes you can make to alleviate some of that stress. This is where you start to envision relief.
Again, this won’t always be true. But simple reflection can help us move towards a solution that reduces are feelings of burnout. By first focusing on the what and why of your burnout, you can then actually start to take a step back and relax.
Relax and Recharge
After taking some time to reflect, you can begin to focus on relaxing and recharging. I’m here to tell you that every single person needs and deserves relaxation. It actually is important if you want to actually be productive and efficient!
Rest and relaxation are two things that I don’t think we talk about as often as we should. Normally society focuses heavily on our productivity and how to become more productive. No wonder that some of us experience burnout from time to time.
You don’t need to always be productive in the name of doing so. Sometimes, and listen to me, sometimes you need to just relax and be still. Being still with yourself and the turmoil that stress has brought into your life, is a scary, but great step toward relief.
But I understand, it’s hard to relax when you have a lot on your plate. I struggled with this a lot when I was suffering from anxiety. It was hard to figure out to juggle relaxation and the desire to be productive.
I realized that it is is still productive for me to relax and recharge. It helps me show up better the following day or show up better for the following task. Self-care is productive!
Not sure how to relax? That is dependent entirely on your why that you have figured out in the first step! Maybe your why for your burnout is simply you’re not sleeping enough. You can relax or rest more by making it a practice to get more sleep. Simple, but see how they are connected?
Or maybe your burnout is a result of a lot of overtime at work and you’re just over it. Maybe your relaxation this week is to not work more than x hours of overtime so you can recharge.
The point is that relaxation can and will look different for each person. By taking the time to reflect and creating a plan that tackles your burnout can help move you in the right direction you need, for you.
This will help you to continue the honest conversation you absolutely need to have with yourself! Once you have had a chance to reflect, relax and recharge, you can then create a plan. This includes re-prioritizing to ensure you are taking care of what needs to be done without feeling drained and burnout in the process.
For example, try grabbing a pen and paper and jotting down all of the things that you have on your plate for the day or week. They can be personal or professional, or both! Jot everything that is causing you stress or some discomfort, just get it on the paper.
Once you do that, you can then start with the most important things. Circle what needs to happen and jot down why it needs to happen first. Continue doing this in order until you have honed in on what needs attention now versus what needs attention later.
Now to be clear, this isn’t a magic wand for your burnout, but it’s a step in the right direction to get stress relief! By jotting things down or allowing yourself the time to really think, you will realize that you have more than enough power to sift through all the chaos.
The power that you are looking for to end the burnout is you. You are always the answer that you’re looking for.
Sometimes, when we are experiencing burnout, all we need is a moment to really think and de-clutter so we can regroup and attack things from a different mindset. A mindset of clarity does wonders for the stress that sometimes life can bring.
Now that you have reflected, recharged and re-prioritized, it’s time for the last step; to reevaluate.
This step may not bring instant stress relief, but it can help you better prepare for future stress. The honest truth is that we all get overwhelmed sometimes and it’s a normal part of life. It’s important to create a lifestyle of good habits that provide the needed strength to move through the burnout period in our lives.
It’s kind of like the saying, “it’s better to overestimate, than to underestimate”. You should over prepare yourself for burnout. You should have great, healthy habits in place to ensure you are of clear mind to handle any stress that comes your way.
Whether that is establishing boundaries within your interpersonal relationships or taking some much needed me-time, good habits are what you want to strive for!
By striving to establish good habits, you may not be able to avoid stress, but you will be in a better space to move through it. You will have tools, of which you created, that you can use to help you navigate the tough space.
It’s also not about getting it perfect either. It’s okay to stumble or not be 100% sure how you’ll be stress-free. Honestly, sometimes burnout just has a way of knocking us down before we even know we’re in a fight (it can be rough!) But it’s about trying to be better and to move better in our lives the next time around.
These steps have truly helped me move out of environments that caused me burnout. Sometimes it was from work and sometimes it was from simply trying to maintain certain relationships. Sometimes it was a combination of everything bulldozing my life where I felt completely drained.
I quickly learned how to start being more honest with myself on why the stress was reoccurring and why I always felt exhaustion. I started to focus on my habits, all of the little things I do that take away from me, which I couldn’t dedicate to other things or people.
Managing stress is an important part of life so it’s important to have the right tools in place. Establishing good habits that focus on your self-care, relaxation, prioritizing, etc., can help you navigate future stressful moments with a lot more ease and grace.
And by taking the time to reflect and recharge, we can start to feel some stress relief. We have this unique opportunity to be more patient with ourselves and strengthen our inner resolve. Sounds like a win-win to me!