5 Simple Practices (You Can Start Today) to Help Alleviate BurnoutJan 31, 2022
It's the year 2022, the workplace has been massively disrupted, where the digital world outweighs the normal office environment, and we are all suffering from micro-PTSD from the events of the past two years...
Burnout, overwhelm, anxiety is becoming commonplace. Our brains have been narrowly focused on the ever-increasing threats from years of uncertainty, compounded with Zoom fatigue and lack of personal connection, and all of a sudden we find ourselves losing the passion for a job we once loved.
So how do we take positive steps towards overcoming these feelings? Let's start by looking at the one thing we all share, which every industry and company can relate to, our humanity. The best way to overcome overwhelm is to get our biology to work for us, not against us.
If we understand our biology we can start to make informed decisions and take the right action. If we don't understand our biology, we will be left to the devices of our unconscious habits (which are driven by our biology) that will continue to seek short-term fixes over long-term solutions, and choose to focus on fear over our wellbeing.
As a performance and life coach, my role is to stay up to date with the latest research and data, which allows us to not only perform at our best but simultaneously feel our best.
Here are 5 practices (you can start today) to make positive change and get back on track:
1. Mindfulness Meditation
In today’s highly digitized world having a meditation practice is non-negotiable if you want to feel happier and less stressed. With so much visual stimulation from technology, we all need breaks in our day to go inward and relax our nervous systems. Mindfulness Meditation is another critical foundation for mental health and has been shown to be the most effective tool to combat highly stressful environments. If you don’t have a practice already, there are so many apps and guided meditations online, but Headspace, Calm, and NuCalm are some great ones to get started.
Having a gratitude practice is a foundational tool for mental health. One of the superpowers you develop by having a gratitude practice is the ability to reframe stories to feel more appreciation, optimism, and even empowerment in daily life. Our brains are naturally wired to look out for threats, but by practicing gratitude we can strengthen the positive thoughts and train our brains to see more positivity in the world (thus simultaneously lowering our stress levels).
Need a simple gratitude practice? Try this, every morning or before you go to bed, write down 3 key things you are grateful for, but make sure you also feel it in your body. When we feel it both in our heads and our hearts, our bodies will respond accordingly.
Another gratitude practice involves sending three appreciative messages every day to friends, family, and co-workers. This is a great way to support others while supporting your own mental health!
3. Get 7-8 hours of quality Sleep
Quality sleep is the foundation of wellbeing. Sleep deprivation has been shown to create symptoms such as drowsiness, inability to concentrate, impaired memory, reduced physical strength, diminished ability to fight off infections, sleep deprivation complications, increased risk for depression and mental illness. Current data shows we need 7-8 hours of quality sleep, and if we get less than that then it is important to make it up with naps or mindfulness practices.
Also, a great rule of thumb to get better quality sleep is the “3-2-1 Rule.” Three hours before bed no food (our bodies work hard to digest food), two hours before bed no liquids (the goal is to sleep as long as possible and not wake up to use the restroom), and lastly one hour before bed no screens. As phones, TVs, and computers all give off blue light that signals to our bodies its daylight time and can inhibit the activation of melatonin (which assists us in falling asleep at night).
4. Try a new Active Recovery Routine
If you have yet to try an active recovery practice, this is your sign to do so! Active recovery means doing some form of activity that will benefit your body and wellbeing and is not passive (like sitting on the couch and watching television). 20 minutes a day, two to three times a week can reap massive benefits! Some active recovery ideas include: Sauna, cold showers, long meditations, walks in nature, bodywork or massage, light yoga or stretching, jacuzzi time, tai chi, or isolation tanks.
5. Play more & do the things that get you into "Flow"
“Flow state” is a state of consciousness where we are relaxed, yet completely focused in the present moment. It's the activities that get us out of our heads and into our bodies. Getting into flow releases one of the most natural, potent cocktail of “feel good” chemicals and endorphins that helps us release stress. Some examples include playing sports, making art or music, writing, speaking, or exercising. The quickest way to get more flow in life is to reflect on the activities you naturally did the most when you were younger, and go do those now! Whether it was a specific sport, painting, or whatever activity you enjoyed doing for the sake of doing it, make more time to get into flow.
Another way of saying this is how can you invite more "play" into your day. In the book, Play, Stuart Brown defines it as "an absorbing, apparently purposeless activity that provides enjoyment and suspends self-consciousness and a sense of time. It is also self-motivating and makes you want to do it again." When we do the activities we enjoy just for the sake of doing them, we are intrinsically rewarded and come out feeling better than we started.
What activities energize you? Most leaders will resist play because they think they will fall behind if they aren't seriously working hard, but studies show that those who are the happiest do the most productive work. Organizations that take breaks to rest and play are actually more productive and creative.
This is because when we understand our natural biological rhythms (or the fact we work best with equal periods of being productive and resting) we start to honor ourselves by giving our body the rest and renewal our bodies need to be fully present and productive the next day.
So rest fully and actively, take breaks for mindfulness and gratitude, get good sleep, and have some fun today. Do this consistently and you will start to give your body what it needs to overcome stress and burnout.
Lastly, if you are having trouble with incorporating these habits into your daily life, or can use assistance to come up with a game plan on how to get back on track, I offer a free strategy session to those that fill out an application.
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