Bouncing Back After Burnout
A recent study found that Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai are amongst the most stressful cities in the world. The 2017 Global Least and Most Stressful Cities Ranking ranked cities on factors like mental health, pollution and unemployment.
But these findings are hardly surprising. Between our hectic work hours, the terrible traffic and chores at home, it’s no secret that we’re citizens of a stressed out country.
If you find yourself experiencing a host of unexplainable physical symptoms (constant headaches, fatigue, lowered immunity) or emotional and behavioural symptoms (unproductivity, forgetfulness, irritability), the stress might be getting to you. Extended periods of stress could result in feeling burnt out and interfere with your ability to function effectively.
Here’s how you can bounce back from burnout, and start feeling happier and more fulfilled.
1. Get back to the basics: Engage in activities you used to enjoy
Your hectic lifestyle might mean that you’ve given up on hobbies or activities that you once enjoyed. From reading a book, to listening to music or even taking a nap, try reintroducing these activities into your schedule.
Why?: Research has shown that the positive emotions you experience from engaging in these activities not only make you happier, but also make you more likely to seek resources that help you cope better with stress.
2. Ask for help
If things are getting out of hand, you might want to consider talking to someone you trust. Even if they can’t directly help with the many tasks at hand, just sharing your concerns with them can make you feel better.
Why?: Research shows that support from people you trust is good for your emotional well-being. Discussing your problems with a loved one can help you cope better and even improve your self-esteem.
3. Start working out
It’s important to try fitting in a 20 minute workout into your schedule, at least thrice a week. If you can’t go to the gym, try simple activities that are easier to slip into your routine. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator at home or at work, or work out using a skipping rope.
Why?: Physical activity releases chemicals called ‘feel good’ hormones or endorphins. These chemicals act as pain relievers, help you feel calmer and can make you feel happier.
4. Try saying no
If you find yourself unable to say no to additional tasks, or you realise you’re getting unnecessarily burdened with other people’s responsibilities, you might need to start being more assertive.
Why?: Being assertive allows you to convey your concerns without disrespecting the other person or hurting yourself. Since it is based on mutual respect, it paves the way for effective communication and healthy conflict resolution.
5. Watch out for the signs
You may have learnt how to manage your stress effectively, but it’s still important to be aware of the warning signs that could indicate eventual burnout. Are you feeling tired more often? Are you feeling unproductive at work? Have you been sleeping poorly?
Why?: Even after recovering from burnout, it’s easy to fall back into similar patterns. Being vigilant about the possible indicators, for example - headaches, exhaustion, frustration or irritability, can help prevent another episode of burnout.
6. Start being more thankful
Keep a track of things you are thankful for everyday. For example, you could feel really thankful for a loved one, an exciting project at work or a delicious meal at your favourite restaurant.
Why?: Research has shown that cultivating gratitude might not directly target stress levels, but it is linked with an increase in positive emotions and improved life satisfaction.
7. Seek help from a professional
Counselling doesn’t have to be your last option when trying to get better. Try visiting a therapist to discuss the stress you’ve been experiencing and come up with ways to manage it effectively.
Why?: There could be a number of factors like negative thoughts or unhealthy behaviour patterns that cause you to feel stressed. Structured therapy with a trained professional can help you identify these factors and work to bring about change.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with high stress levels or burnout, don’t hesitate to reach out. An InnerHour therapist can help you.
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