13 Lesser-Known Techniques for Battling Burnout
Career burnout affects everyone -- including me. In early 2013, I found myself facing a serious case of burnout, where business and health stresses piled up to make my life feel unmanageable. But I made it. I took a breath, went for a walk and made some pretty important changes in my life.
Whether you run a business, work a tough job or struggle to manage the competing demands of friends, family and work, you’ve probably already heard a lot about battling burnout. Now, I want to move beyond the well-worn advice you’ve seen before and share with you 13 lesser-known methods that might actually help you kick burnout’s butt for good.
1. Watch cartoons.
Is this silly or what? I know you’re not 10 years old anymore, but watching cartoons was actually instrumental in my own journey battling burnout. When I turned on the TV, I was able to access my childhood excitement about specific cartoons, which helped me relax and find a better outlook. Maybe cartoons aren’t your thing. But tap into a childhood pastime -- you’ll be amazed how much it helps.
2. Ask yourself “how.”
Another amazing way to get over a mean case of burnout is to stop saying “I can’t,” and say “How?” instead. Don’t say, “I can’t handle this.” Rather, say, “How can I handle this?” This simple little twist puts you in a much more creative, problem-solving space, and helps you move forward -- no matter how stuck you’ve been feeling.
3. Use habits.
Habits are an awesome tool for beating burnout, because they remove the conscious decision-making from the process. When you’re already feeling stressed, things such as healthy eating and regular exercise are among the first to go -- unless they’re habits that are already so ingrained in your daily routine that you do them practically mindlessly.
Personally, I try to set up habits for anything I want to do regularly, as this helps save my decision-making power, which is limited, for bigger, more pressing issues.
4. Break your achievements into increments.
Sometimes, burnout strikes when the goal you’re trying to tackle is too big. Instead of letting yourself get stressed out in this way, take time to step back and break your goals down into smaller increments. This way, you’ll find it much easier to get started, since the average size of your tasks appears much smaller and much less daunting.
Bonus tip: Celebrate these small wins when each of your incremental tasks is finished. Give yourself a small treat, such as a trip to the movies or a beer with friends, and you’ll have your larger overall project finished before you know it.
5. Change your work environment.
I don’t know about you, but sitting down at my home office desk and getting to work when I’m stuck in burnout mode seems pretty much impossible. Instead of wasting time trying to make productivity happen in a space that’s clearly contributing to my mental state, I make it a point to get out and try something new.
If you can, try working from a different place. If the weather is nice, find a spot outside, or spend a day working from a coffee shop or library. Sometimes a simple change in scenery can be refreshing enough to help you recover from burnout.
6. Redefine success.
While many ideas for battling burnout involve getting yourself back onto the treadmill to continue doing more and more, take a different tack instead. What if you redefined success? What if you looked at the process of completing your work as being just as important as the end result you’re trying to achieve?
You may find you already have what you want, and that you can then slow down and enjoy the fruit of your labors -- without the usual burnout.
7. Only do three things.
One of the biggest causes of burnout is an stuffed to-do list. To combat this, force yourself to plan on doing just three things a day for the next two weeks. You can always do more if you want, but don’t push yourself too hard. This allows you to prioritize and gives you an easy reason to say “no” when needed. It will also reduce overwhelm -- assuming, of course, that the items on your list aren’t things such as “write a book” or “launch a new company.”
8. Get an outside opinion.
Sometimes, you’re too deep in your problems to be able to see a way out. An outside influence, whether it’s a trusted friend, counselor or family member, can be instrumental to helping you fashion a healthy plan to move forward.
9. Find creative outlets.
Another big thing that’s helped me fight burnout in the past was developing hobbies. I’m partial to car racing, weight training and other active pursuits, but whatever your chosen outlet is, spend some time on it. If you don’t have a hobby, now’s a great time to take up an activity you’ve always wanted to try, but didn’t think you had time for.
Chances are you’ll find that the time you spend on your hobby will give you more energy when it comes to your work.
10. Consider changing jobs.
Sometimes your company or work environment is the reason for your burnout. If you feel that your position has turned into something you don’t like anymore, or that your manager or co-workers create a toxic work environment, it may be time to move on.
11. Take a period of working less.
Whatever this means for you, it’s a great tactic to battle burnout. Take a part-time schedule if you can, or take vacation days in a way that reduces how much you work for a couple of weeks. This slow-down time is a great way to regroup and refocus.
12. Know when to push through.
Being aware of your particular weaknesses is extremely important when it comes to battling burnout. In fact, it may be that the best thing for you to do is to simply push through the sticking point, knowing that you’ll feel better on the other side. This is not for everyone, but it can help those whose burnout usually stems from procrastination.
13. Don’t give up.
The thing about battling burnout is that everybody is different. What worked for somebody else might not work for you, but the bottom line is to never give up. There is a healthy, manageable, productive life available to you -- it just might take some time to find it. So keep looking, and keep trying new methods. You never know where or when you’ll find the solution to your productivity issues.
Battling burnout isn’t easy, but it is possible. With the methods listed above, I know you can get through it. Just remember to go easy on yourself. Everyone struggles with burnout at some point. There’s no shame in admitting it and taking steps to start heading in a better direction, towards the life and career you’ve always dreamed of.
What do you do to battle burnout? Share your experiences and recommendations by leaving a comment below!