There are so many reasons why we feel burned out. We might have a demanding job, or just too much going on in our lives. It’s hard to find time for ourselves and we don’t know how to say no. We love being able to do it all, and to be blunt, a lot of burned-out women are control freaks (I was once one, too!).
The result is that the stress just builds up until it feels like there’s nothing left inside us. Our passion for hobbies and having a social life go away. Our values change from caring for our emotional and physical health to tackling everything on our to-do list during a long day at work at any cost.
Burnout can become a chronic condition, leaving us exhausted with no personal life, and a myriad of physical and mental manifestations. Recovery from burnout is a process that takes work. We must work so hard to focus on this healing process, sometimes saying no to commitments and sticking to the things in our lives that are essential to our well-being.
If we can manage to do that and to create a daily habit, we absolutely can recover from burnout! I’ve done it, and I’ve helped so many other successful, high-performing women just like you. Women who are in pain, and who live week to week just “trying to get through” whatever season they’re going through. They don’t believe there are enough hours in the day for their own happiness. Even fun becomes just one of the tasks they have to do in a day.
But what if I told you that recovering from burnout was as simple as changing your habits? When you begin to incorporate these simple tips into your work and home lives, you can create a higher sense of peace and purpose!
Here, I’ll share 10 ways you can break the cycle of burnout!
1. Take care of yourself first
This might seem counter-intuitive, but if you don’t take care of your needs first, then nothing else will get done. And when we’re recovering from burnout and trying to make changes in our lives, it’s important to treat ourselves like the top priority. Because we actually are the top priority.
We tend to put everyone in our lives first, sacrificing our own peace and boundaries to make others happy. But recovering from burnout is not something that will happen overnight. And in order to do so, we need to recharge our batteries and get healthier for ourselves first.
Let’s stop being reactive all the time and start setting boundaries where they matter most–this way we’re giving ourselves some space back, too.
2. Practice some self-reflection
If you practice some self-reflection, you’ll have a better understanding of what led to your burnout in the first place. Once you reflect and identify these patterns, it will help you to know how positive changes can be made in order to recover from burnout.
Write these negative thoughts and stressors so that you can be mindful of what is draining your resources, and filling you with stress. Start keeping a stress journal. Every time you feel these feelings well up inside you, write them down: what caused them? How much sleep did you get the night before? What else did you notice about the situation? Did your boss, your job, lack of control, or something in your personal life cause it?
And finally, what strategies can you access to prevent this mental exhaustion from happening again? Sometimes, it can help to write these things down and then take a walk to reflect.
3. Spend time with friends and family
It might seem counterintuitive to add one or two more things to your life, but bear with me here. When you make time for fun first, you’re not only finding a higher level of enjoyment in your life, but you’re also reducing the amount of time you have to do things you want to say no to.
There are likely things in your job or even family that you can’t say no to, but when you balance those and take time to enjoy personal connections with friends and others you enjoy, your job will likely become, overall, less exhausting.
Surround yourself with the people who raise your vibe, who encourage you to talk and be free, and who support you. These are the people who are positive and who support your career, your health, your personal passion projects, and who you feel safe sharing your feelings with. Treat this time with loved ones as if it’s just as important as a business meeting. It truly is!
4. Get enough sleep
When you’re stressed out and burned out, rest is not easy. And how ironic is it that you’re exhausted, but can’t quiet your mind enough to sleep? You’re probably dealing with career anxiety from the day, and feeling negative thoughts toward what’s to come tomorrow. And possibly even more exhausted from worrying about emails that are piling up while you’re supposed to be catching ZZZs.
This is no way to live! Sleep and rest are so crucial to your ability to perform at work, to fulfill your other obligations, and to having fun. But more than that, sleep initiates the body’s healing processes, helps to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), and protects your brain’s tissues. Sleep is your time to recover from your stressors every day, and essential to your brain and body health.
Nobody needs access to you 24/7 (in most cases). Part of your recovery is disconnecting from your phone so you can quiet your mind. Charge it across the bedroom, and don’t reach for it first thing in the morning.
I know the first thing you’re thinking here is that you don’t have time for exercise. You have a busy career. You have family to take care of. You manage a millioncommitments (barely) and don’t feel the need to add any more tasks to your day.
That is a lie that too many of us crazy busy women tell ourselves. The reality is that we don’t make the time. When you’ve reached the point of burning out, exercise should become a priority.
Movement, whether taking a walk or crossfit, helps work out the pent-up stress and physical tension we hold throughout the day. It gets our blood moving, and produces the endorphins our body needs to regulate stress. It can even give you that break to reflect and focus on how you feel while your body moves. Make a point to take a break from business and do one activity for at least 15 minutes every day. Your health depends on it.
6. Give Yourself Grace
We high-performing women are harder on ourselves than anybody else. Here’s the reality: the things that keep us up at night doubting ourselves are probably no more than a passing thought to our team. Part of our burnout recovery is that we need to stop stressing and give ourselves grace. Stress leads to exhaustion and other symptoms. Grace lifts us up and energizes.
We impose priorities and deadlines on ourselves that nobody else expects. This only adds to our stress! We live in a society that values hard work and puts little emphasis on free time. Yes, there are deadlines we need to follow, but instead of rushing through a self-imposed deadline that’s going to crush you, pause. Take a moment to think about the actual priority here, and present it to your team. Your colleagues and clients will let you know if it doesn’t work!
Be gracious to yourself. Nobody is being as hard on you as you are.
7. Give back to others with kindness and love
There is research that shows how kindness toward yourself and others can help reduce your burnout. Let me give you an example of this: When we are kind to someone else, it’s like a tonic that really makes us feel good in return.
Having the chance to be kind allows your brain to release oxytocin–the “feel-good” hormone. This can decrease your symptoms of stress and anxiety, according to one study published in the Journal Biological Psychiatry. Make paying it forward part of your everyday values.
8. Smile more often
Smiles are contagious! When you smile, it’s like a positive domino effect. Your brain releases endorphins that make you feel good, and your body becomes flooded with serotonin–another “feel-good” hormone that helps burnout recovery.
Try to smile at least one time per day, and you’ll instantly notice a difference in your mood! Smiling doesn’t take energy but it does give back so much more. Let down your inhibitions, be silly, and be free to express yourself. Call up a friend to talk, go dancing, and let your hair down.
9. Take a break when needed
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: it’s okay to take time for yourself.
We give so much of ourselves, it becomes natural and right that we do without anything left over. But when the burnout cycle kicks in, this needs to change. In order for your body and mind to heal from the stressors they have been through, you’ll need some space–and even just 15 minutes per day can make all the difference to your recovery.
Take care of number one first by carving out some time for rest or self-care each week. This will allow you to be more present with others around you who may also need encouragement and love at times like these (which is often), and at your job!
10. It’s all about boundaries–set them!
This is a tough one, and may take some time to set into place. But once you do, your quality of life will improve dramatically!
It’s so easy for us to be the people who say yes all the time because we genuinely want to help others out. When this happens too often without any boundaries, it leads to burnout.
Consider saying no in certain situations that are not necessary or healthy for your well-being (or even just setting better boundaries). For example, if someone asks you on Monday night if you can finalize a project that would typically take a few days to accomplish? Say NO! Make sure you’re taking care of yourself first; protect your energy so there is more left over for you.
Whether it’s too much work, not enough sleep, or just feeling like you’re doing way too many things at once, burnout can creep in and before you know it, take over your life. Your recovery process will take time, but when you use the above strategies to continually nurture yourself, you will see your life and your happiness change.
Shifting some of the habits that are hurting us might be all we need! Check out my free Facebook group Crazy Busy Women in Balance where we discuss our struggles with juggling family and career without burning out. It’s a great place to find support from other successful women just like you, and I go live twice a week to share tips that have helped me as well as my clients recover from burnout.