When you’re in the zone at work and trying to juggle many things at once, it’s easy to experience burnout. You had an ambitious moment and decided to work till seven instead of clocking out at your usual 5:01 p.m., or took on one too many projects because you thought you could handle the impressive work load, and then you find yourself conking out like a zombie once you get home and feeling like the cycle won’t end.
It’s great to want to achieve a lot, but you have to realize you can’t do four jobs at once. But the thing is that that realization usually comes a moment too late, when you’re stuck feeling the aftermath of a burnout. So how do you recharge when you’re burnt out? Well first of all, it’s time to take a little me-time. That doesn’t mean taking all your sick days and flying to a beach for a couple of days—I appreciate that not everyone can do that. From simple tasks you can do at home, to small tweaks you can weasel into your schedule while you’re are work, below are seven ways you can recharge while you’re feeling burnt out.
1. First Thing's First: Set Boundaries
Part of the reason you feel burnt out in the first place is because you have too much on your plate. So for the first step in remedying this situation, set up some boundaries so, moving forward, this won't happen as often.
According to Brené Brown, PhD, self-development writer at Oprah, "I've finally learned that just because I can do something does not mean I should. Sure, I could take on another car pool. But that doesn't make it a good idea. The next time someone asks you to do something, consider whether you're doing it out of obligation or to prove your worth. And set boundaries that reflect what's really important." It's tempting to take on more projects or tasks to show others that we're a go-getter or that we add value to the team or friendship, but don't do it to the point where you're falling dead on your bed every night. Set up boundaries.
2. Find An Activity That Doesn't Require Thought
Whether that's swimming, painting, cooking, or reading a book, start to unwind from burn out by doing something that's border-line mindless and lets your thoughts drift. Your brain needs some off time.
Brown suggests, "Find an activity that centers you and then make time for it—no matter what. If it feels uncomfortable at first, that's OK. Cooling down takes practice." If you feel like you should be doing something on you to-do list and feel guilty about indulging in some mindless activity, ignore it. Burn out doesn't get eased with more tasks; it gets eased by powering down.
3. Make A List Of What You Enjoy Doing At Work
Not everyone can take a week off to recharge or take a long evening reading on the couch. For moments like those, fight off burn out by making a list of the tasks you really enjoy doing at work, and then only focus on those during a period of time. That way it won't feel like the pressure of work, but rather something you really like getting your hands into.
Trent Hamm, financial writer at The Simple Dollar offers, "What tasks make you feel fulfilled at work? What ones do you actually enjoy doing? Think of the pieces of your job that make you feel productive and make you feel like you’re actually contributing in a positive fashion, then list several of these." Tackling these will feel more fun than work, and will give your mind a break from the usual pressure and stress.
4. Do Something Totally Frivolous
To combat that weary feeling of burn out, do something completely frivolous to perk yourself up. You know how you sit a little straighter when you get a present? This is the same idea. Buy that dress you’ve been eyeing, buy yourself a giant cupcake during lunch, marathon a favorite TV show for a whole evening — whatever it is, do it because it makes you happy.
Carreer writer Erinn Bucklan at Time says, "Splurge on yourself with a little TLC. Whether this means booking a spa appointment or tickets to a hot show you’ve read about, it’s time to renew your appreciation of the world you’ve worked hard to build for yourself." Enjoy the fruits of all that hard work and give your mind a rest with something frivolous. It'll perk you right up.
5. Shake Up Your Routine
Sometimes all you need to do is shake up your routine a little in order to fight off those dregs of fatigue. According to the Huffington Post, "It could be as simple as walking a new route to work or actually starting that blog you always said you would. New experiences open your mind to new ways of thinking and perceiving, which in turn make you happier." So go somewhere new for lunch, or call up a friend during break rather than checking emails. Maybe take one of those wine and painting classes after work rather than tying up loose ends, or forget typing up reports during the evening and go get fancy cocktails instead. Just shake up your usual routine and you'll feel the burn out start slipping away.
6. Pat Yourself On The Back
Working hard but not getting any recognition for it is a sure fire way to make you lose your motivation and feel yourself burning out. According to lifestyle writer Martha C. White at Time, "One hallmark of burnout is feeling overwhelmingly cynical and not deriving any satisfaction from your achievements. If that sounds like you, make it a point to take the time to recognize the effort you’re putting in at work." So take a moment to pat yourself on the back — admit what a fabulous job you've been doing and how all this hard, intense work is paying off. You deserve it; let yourself be recognized!
7. Get Off The Grid
To truly fight off burnout, when you get home and are ready to relax, take yourself completely off the grid. Leave laptops in backpacks, leave your phone in your nightstand, don't even think about checking emails — just completely disengage.
According to health writer Paisley Hansen at self-development blog Nectar Collective, "The Internet is now easily accessible from almost anywhere through our smartphones, laptops, and tablets, and that can lead to work and other obligations blending into every aspect of our lives. To combat burnout, try staying off your smartphone or tablet when it’s not necessary. " Your Instagram comments and urgent emails from work can wait. You're at home, it's your time off. And you need some me-time.
So just relax a little, and take time to focus on you, even though that may seem totally foreign to you. It'll be worth it.