I had a lot of ideas for what to write about in this blog post. I’m having fun this holiday season and making resolutions for 2022. And while I will talk a bit about both of those topics below, the one topic that I really want to focus on right now is burnout.
Perhaps you’ve already dealt with these feelings at some point in the past two years. Perhaps the idea of going into a third year of the pandemic feels overwhelming and scary. Perhaps you’re tired of working from home, tired of feeling so uncertain all the time about the future. Or, more than likely, it’s a combination of all of these feelings and more. I know that it usually is for me.
Now, there are a lot of blogs out there that profess to share easy tips and tricks for avoiding burnout. For not “succumbing to fatigue.” I don’t want to do that. There is no easy, magic fix that will instantly cure burnout. It’s a complicated issue, made all the more difficult by the fact that the times we live in are so endlessly stressful. We’re not machines, and there is absolutely no shame in experiencing burnout. It is never a sign of weakness, and you are not alone in feeling this way. In the end, being honest with yourself about how you're feeling is always better than burying those feelings deep down and continuing on as if everything is normal.
While there is no magic fix, there are steps we can take to address and hopefully alleviate burnout:
Know When to Say No:
If you are feeling overextended and unable to take on any new tasks at your job, it is okay to say “no.” Be honest with yourself about your limit – you’ll feel better saying no up front than saying yes and becoming too overwhelmed to complete it later on. Set clear boundaries for yourself, and do what you can to adhere to them.
Take on One Task at a Time:
It is understandable that you might feel paralyzed by a very full to-do list. Without a clear understanding of where to begin, we sometimes end up not beginning at all. When this happens, I remind myself that all we can do is complete one task at a time. I absolutely love using The Pomodoro Technique, in which you use a timer to break down your work day into 25 minute intervals. Decide on what task you’re going to focus on first, set a timer for 25 minutes, work solely on that task, and then take a short 5 to 10 minute break after the timer goes off. In this way, a very full list becomes more manageable.
Refill Your Cup:
Refilling your energy doesn’t have to come from a huge vacation or a lavish spa day. There are plenty of small, practical things you can do every day to help give you your energy back. Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve made it a priority to go for at least one walk every day, even if it’s just around the block. I’ve also picked up a few new hobbies, and I’ve started journaling again. You can try doing yoga, or taking a long bath. Try something different every day that’s all about self-care, and find what brings you joy!
It’s Okay to Just Be Burned Out:
Sometimes, you just have to accept being burned out, and that’s okay. There isn’t always a clear solution to burnout other than just letting yourself be. Acknowledge how you’re feeling, and don’t add extra pressure to try and “fix” or “solve” the situation. Sometimes, we just need to give ourselves time and space to heal on our own terms.
Know When to Ask for Help:
We can’t always do things on our own. Asking for help is a sign of strength. Communicate with your colleagues about how they can best assist you or your project. Call up a friend and ask if they have the time and capacity to talk. I’ve used websites like www.mywellbeing.com in the past to find affordable therapists who are able to meet over Zoom. It’s easy to feel alone, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. But by asking for help when we need it, we can get through the tough times with the right support.
As we head into the holidays, try and use this time to rest and recharge as best as you can (personally, I’m planning to make a lot of holiday cookies this weekend!). Make a list of resolutions for 2022, but incorporate goals that are within your reach amongst the loftier aspirations. And when you’re making that list, make sure to add in some self-care goals as well so that you can achieve a healthy work-life balance. Go easy on yourself in the coming weeks - you aren’t alone in experiencing burnout, and I hope that you have the support you need as we head into the new year.
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Written by Jessie Cannizzaro