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  • Writer's pictureMarc Bitanga

How to Recover from Burnout

If you’ve ever experienced burnout, you’ve felt like you’ve been robbed of your energy. The things you used to care about don’t seem to matter as much, and you become more jaded. It’s this looming feeling of being overwhelmed. Small hills start to look like mountains. You feel stuck and can’t shake it

What Causes Burnout?

We commonly associate burnout with overworking.

But when you think about it, there are many professionals who are happily working 50-60 hours a week because they're fulfilled by their work.

I'm not saying working long hours doesn't bring on exhaustion. What I am saying is that working long hours on its own doesn't necessarily cause burnout.

Burnout is actually about poor leadership, lack of support & dysfunctional work environments.

I wish that burnout was just about long hours. It would be so much simpler!

How Burnout Creeps In

Burnout can happen because of a combination of these issues:

  • Lack of clarity or unclear objectives

  • Not enough resources compared to high expectations

  • Red tape or lack of cooperation or support

  • Constant pivots

  • Micromanagement

  • No acknowledgement from your boss about your work or efforts

  • Unrealistic workload

Working through these challenges can be difficult, especially for those who are experienced & capable.

You begin to feel like:

  • You're trying to hit a moving target because of lack of clarity or direction

  • The chips are stacked against you and you feel like you're not setup for success

  • External factors are weighing you down

  • The work you put in was wasted effort

  • Your boss doesn't appreciate your capabilities or experience

  • Your just a cog in the machine

Dealing with these issues once in a while isn't a big deal. But if your world is all about dealing with this everyday, it will eventually wear you down.

How I Got Through Burnout

What Didn't Work

I've tried all the cliché solutions. Save your money, they don't work.

  • Long weekends or vacations

  • Shopping or partying your way to happiness

  • Drinking to dull the pain of stress

  • "Pushing through it"

These methods of handling your problems may feel good in the moment, but they're nothing but band-aids.

What Worked for Me

It took me a long time and several rounds of burnout to figure out what worked for me.

Disclaimer: I'm not a certified therapist or mental health professional. I recommend you consult with a professional before undertaking any significant measures.

Limit or Eliminate Negative Mental Stimulus

Your mind processes everything it hears or sees. Give it a break from bad news, doom scrolling or the beeps & buzzes of notifications.

Set Work Life Boundaries
  • No work past 7PM

  • No work on the weekends

  • Turning off email & Slack from 7PM until the next morning

Tune Out What You Can't Control or is Bad for Your Mental Health
  • Stop watching & reading the news. It's never good news.

  • Limit or temporarily eliminate social media. Doom scrolling is rarely productive.

  • Switch the color profile on your phone to grayscale mode. Your phone is like a mini slot machine. It's engineered to keep you hooked.

Get Some “Wins” Under Your Belt

Burnout robs you of the feeling of success. It makes you forget of what you're capable of. Even a person with the toughest mindset put in unhealthy scenarios can begin to doubt themselves.

Pick Up a Creative Hobby
  • My hobby of choice was watercolor painting and woodworking. There was something about taking on something tactile and creative. Pride in doing something well can be very satisfying.

Participate in Team Sports
  • Have a pickup game of basketball or join beer league hockey is a great way to bring back your winning mojo.

It's refreshing when you can create something on your own or help a team accomplish a goal. It reminds you that you're capable of accomplishing difficult things.

Establish Healthy Habits

Bad habits don’t cause burnout, but they certainly magnify it. Here's a few suggestions on self care and mindfulness.

Self Care
  • Schedule breaks in your calendar

  • Take 5 minute breaks between blocks of work

  • Don't skip lunch breaks

  • Don't eat lunch at your desk

  • Walk around the block during your workday

  • Guided meditation using Insight Timer to improve your metacognition

  • Begin a daily gratitude journal to remind you of all the good things in your life

  • Journal for 1-2 pages every weekend to recap the week and to make sense of your thoughts

  • Attend a Tibetan Sound Bath. Certain sound frequencies calm your mind.

  • Listen to classical music while you work to maintain focus

  • Spend time in nature. Hikes in the woods helps you unplug.

Individually they may seem minor to you, but its effects compound over time.

Get off the Couch and Workout!

"If you want to change your mood, move your body." - Tony Robbins

  • 10 minute workouts first thing in the morning dissipates the cortisol (stress hormone) that's accumulated overnight

  • Practice yoga a few times a week to squeeze the stress out of you

I absolutely hate to workout. But I began to workout religiously when I connected workouts and physical activity with better mental health.

Talk to a Friend or a Professional

As it is with journaling, there's something that happens in your mind when you talk and share the challenges you're facing with a friend or therapist.

Talk therapy helps you defrag your mind to make sense of things and put things context.

The Nasty Truth About Burnout

The tactics I've shared to navigate through burnout is what YOU can do to manage through burnout.

But it may not be enough. They are methods to deal with the symptoms of burnout, but not the source of the issue.

When you look at what causes burnout, it's rarely you who's to blame.

Burnout is caused by systemic issues.

  • Poor leadership

  • Dysfunctional company cultures

  • Bad job/role design

  • Lack of resources overall

That's what's nasty about it. The problem isn't easily overcome.

All the meditation in the world won't help you when your boss is breathing down your neck.

Final Tactics for Dealing with Burnout

Ultimately to deal with systemic burnout, have an honest and candid talk with your boss.

Step up and advocate for yourself because no one else will.

In good company cultures, they'll take you seriously and do what they can to support you.

In dysfunctional company cultures, they may turnaround and lay accountability back onto you.

If your boss ignores you or they have no desire to change, the last tactic is to evaluate whether your job, company or industry is the type of environment that's healthy for you.

I now think of burnout as a signal that something is not right in your life and that something needs to change.

Wishing you the best of luck. I'm rooting for you. See you again next Saturday.

I hope you found this content helpful. I'd love to hear your thoughts & feedback so I can continue to improve and provide value.

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