Everyone’s experience of burnout is different. In burnout, moving forward is often what you want most, and also what is most difficult to get to. It seems easy to continue along the path with no help, trying to keep yourself afloat without support. Reaching out for help is sometimes the hardest thing to do. From experience, I know that part of burnout is an experience of isolation. It took years and a few instances of burnout to understand that in those moments, the worst thing I could do was be alone.
Burnout is unfortunately common today. The world of work is not built for the humans running it today, and it’s slow progress moving towards creating the conditions needed for healthy and positive work spaces.
If you are in burnout, or possibly starting to notice some signs creeping in, here are a few tips on what to do.
1) Get professional help.
There are professionals for a reason, and they are here to help. A counsellor, social worker, phsychologist, etc. can provide immense support during these times. This kind of support is also often covered under most benefit plans or Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). If the idea of professional help is super foreign to you, take a moment to consider what you need, and if external support could be part of the solution.
2) Give yourself permission to be still.
In our busy busy busy (X1000) world, keeping busy and filling the space can seem like the only option. In moments of burnout, our brains are on overdrive, over stimulation, and they have temporarily lost the ability to rewire thought patterns and be resilient. Your brain needs rest and a moment to be still and re-establish it’s routine. Sit for a few minutes each day, even 20 minutes, or get outside. Walk slowly or find a spot to sit for a moment and experience stillness
3) Monitor for signs and signals that you might be headed down the path of burnout.
Humans are always changing and evolving. We are hard-wired to grow. The general patterns that I experienced in burnout were the same, each time I developed new tools to accommodate where I was in life, what I had learned before, and what I needed. Develop an understanding of your triggers and what to keep an eye out for so that you can implement strategies to stay healthy.
4) Get professional help.
Yes, this one is here again, very intentionally. I cannot stress enough the importance of professional help. The initial stages of burnout are laden with frustration, feeling trapped, swamped, isolated and like you just have to keep going without change.
In these initial stages, the kind of professional help from a counsellor or therapist can be the first step in emerging from the fog.
Once you feel like you’re emerging, seeking out the support of a coach can then support you in moving forward. The role of a coach is a sounding board, and a support system to help you identify patterns, challenges and reoccuring thought patterns and then figuring out a way of dealing with them.
5) Be gentle with yourself.
Apologies for the cliche language here, but it's so true. It takes time to develop new muscles, and so of course it takes time to develop new thought patterns that will help you out of the spiral of burnout.
Burnout is a very real mental health challenge, and needs to be approached with compassion, both from others and from yourself. Of course this is easier said than done. Sure, I can say to myself, "Hey, don't be so hard on yourself. Take it easy." But really, the thought process is, "You're not doing enough, you're not good enough, everyone sees that you're failing..." and so it continues.
The fact that these thoughts come up is not the challenging part. It's how you choose to engage with the thought. So, being gentle, as a starting point, means recognizing thought pattern and letting it be just that - a thought, not a part of the fabric of your being.
Director of Coaching Experiences
Blue Bark & Co.