You may be familiar with the classic symptoms of burnout. When colleagues feel overwhelmed each time a new request comes their way, they’re not engaged in office culture, and they’re uncharacteristically underperforming – it’s likely they’re experiencing burnout.
You may even be suffering from your own symptoms of burnout. Reaching this point of chronic stress may take months or even years, but it could also come on quicker, stemming from overwhelming stress at work or in your personal life. Catching burnout early is ideal, but it’s never too late to work towards recovery. So, let’s talk about how you and your team can recover from burnout with stress management techniques.
1. Proper sleep is key to recovering from burnout
Sleep can be one of the first healthy habits neglected on the road to burnout. For many who find themselves in the drained state of burnout, chances are a lack of sleep may have amplified their emotional and physical symptoms. It’s a bit of a catch-22 since a lack of sleep will make feeling emotionally exhausted more likely and the high stress from burnout can often lead to difficulties getting the proper rest to recover.
“Less than six hours of sleep at night makes you 2.5x more likely to have serious mental distress,” says Jen Foley, Director of Clinical Partnerships at Spring Health, during Guardian’s webinar on strategies for better sleep and mental health.
When feeling like there are so many things to get done, it can seem like there’s no time for sleep. But repeatedly grinding into the late hours of the night will lead to sleep deprivation, which has some serious downsides, including impaired performance, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and poor mental health.1
Taking the time to set yourself up for sleep success can help to with burnout recovery by improving well-being. The physical symptoms of insufficient sleep include low energy levels, anxiety, exhaustion, depression, and the ability to handle stress.2 To help you perform optimally and cope with feeling physically depleted from burnout, a big part of the daily recovery when learning how to recover from burnout is prioritizing better sleep.
How to recover from burnout: Tips and tricks for better sleep
- Timing. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day to get your body in a rhythm. Create a regular sleep routine — take a warm bath, read, or listen to relaxing music before bed to tell your body it’s time for rest.
- Bedroom space. Keep your bedroom cool and the temperature consistent. Make sure your bed is comfortable and supportive for your body. Keep work outside of the bedroom. Make sure you can block out light from outside. Use a white noise machine if it tends to be loud.
- Bed behaviors. Use your bed for sleep; use another room to watch TV, eat, and work. If you can’t fall asleep or go back to sleep in 20 minutes, get up and do something boring until you feel drowsy. Avoid excessive screen time before bed.
- Consumption. Try having a light snack before bed (yogurt, banana, etc.). Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, and heavy, spicy, or sugary foods late in the day. Try to increase physical activity earlier in the day. Keep naps to under 30 minutes.
2. Find ways to manage stress to recover from burnout
Having a toolkit of techniques to manage stress can help maintain an even keel when confronted with triggering moments. When battling burnout, even a task that’s a part of someone’s normal job responsibilities can cause them to feel overwhelmed. To help stop stress in its tracks and prevent burnout from getting worse, apply this easy-to-remember formula shared by Nicole Roger, Senior Manager of Clinical Partnerships at Spring Health, during Guardian’s webinar on coping strategies for burnout.
STOP stress in its tracks using this mindfulness technique.
- S = Stop. If you get a huge assignment or stressful email and start feeling anxious, push your chair back and pause. Have a moment to yourself before deciding how to move forward with the task at hand.
- T = Take a breath. Focus on your breathing for a minute. Take a big inhalation through your nose and exhale slowly and deeply. Repeat a couple of times to help lower your heart rate.
- O = Observe. What are you feeling at this moment? Notice your thoughts, emotions, and physical state. Tune into yourself in a non-judgmental way to observe what’s going on.
- P = Proceed. What’s one thing you’d like to focus on right now? When battling burnout, the to-do list for any given day can feel daunting, but it’s impossible to do them all at the same time. What’s one thing you can focus on at this moment to address the request at hand?