Burnout can be a vicious cycle—like running on a hamster wheel with no breaks for food, water or rest. Interrupting that cycle in large or small ways can help stop the spinning.
Not everyone has the flexibility or financial means to step away from work or family responsibilities, but if you’re able, taking some time away can give you a chance to reboot.
You are the only person who can judge how much time you need. I’ve heard from many clients that it takes three days for the fog to begin to lift, and any days that follow can give you valuable perspective on what’s causing your burnout and how to manage it. If possible, resist the temptation to use the first day or two of this downtime to analyze and “fix” your situation. Your outlook and ideas may be more fruitful when your mind has had a chance to wander—and recover.
Establish Recurring Micro Breaks
If getting away for an extended period of time isn’t possible—or if you’ve successfully recharged and want to prevent future episodes of burnout—consider when and how to establish daily or weekly opportunities to escape the grind.
In the spirit of what I call microdosing wellness, take time to explore your own city (or other cities if you’re on the road for work), actively pause from the responsibilities of building your business and do something else—something fun or relaxing.
I’ve seen clients take this approach by setting a weekly window of time to rest or go on a miniature adventure. These micro breaks can occur daily as well by establishing rituals like walking at lunchtime, meditating at the beginning or end of the workday, or creating a special place to stretch or drink your morning coffee—free from work or family demands.
If work is consuming all your attention, consider reclaiming a piece of it for something specific you used to enjoy or that you’ve always wanted to try. Learning a new skill (or revisiting an old one) does take energy, but it can be a refreshing change, especially if it involves physical activity, connecting with friends or challenging your mind to work in new and different ways.
Of course, a new hobby is only worth continuing if it feeds you. If it feels like another chore, move on and try something else.
See if you can identify specific tasks that stress you out, and think about how to get help with them or hand them off to someone else. In your day job, this delegation may or may not be possible by clearly defining expectations about the scope of your work with supervisors, colleagues or assistants.
In other situations—like entrepreneurial endeavors or household responsibilities—virtual assistants, housekeepers, babysitters, salespeople or web designers can take significant weight off your shoulders, but paying for their services can be expensive. If you’re able to make a targeted investment, you might find a little more room for rest and recovery.
Friends and family members are also often happy to help, especially if they know you’re struggling. Sometimes simply communicating how you feel to someone you love—or to a trained therapist or coach—can go a long way toward easing your burden.
Eat, Sleep, Move and Connect With Your People
When you have a full-time job and a side hustle taking up all your free time, eating well and carving out time to sleep, exercise and see your friends is easier said than done, but taking care of the basics on a recurring schedule can have a real impact on your overall health.
Your question tells me that your fundamental needs aren’t being met right now, but it sounds like things haven’t always been that way. If that’s the case, you may be able to rely on past experiences to guide you forward.
- When you had a healthier balance in your life, what were your daily rhythms like?
- Did you have routines in the morning or before bed?
- When and how did you exercise?
- How often did you shop for groceries or cook?
- What restaurants or activities did you love?
- Who did you love hanging out with, and what did you do together?
You know better than anyone else what feels like rest or relaxation for you. One person might recharge by climbing a mountain while another might do better reading a book, throwing a party or solving a puzzle. There are no rules.
Whatever you decide, let your body be your guide. Get the support you need, and if symptoms of burnout return, hopefully you can recognize them earlier and interrupt the cycle before it starts spinning too fast.
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