Do you know that over 70% of us experience burnout? Unfortunately, burnout is more common among women than men. I can only attribute it to the way women think about the roles and responsibilities they have.
Hitting burnout or heading towards burnout will make you question certain things in your life. Whether you are ready or not, you will need to create a plan. You need a burnout recovery plan.
As someone who experienced burnout and got on the other side of it, I want to give you that plan. So, you have a strategy to use to get back on your feet stronger than ever before.
What is Burnout
Before you jump into the recovery plan, we need to discuss what is burnout. Why? Because to be frank, I didn’t know what burnout was. I had this image that burnout impacts only certain people, maybe those who run multibillion-dollar companies.
I never thought I suffered from burnout because I thought it was reserved for the chosen few and clearly not me. I was busy, doing things, and yes, I felt tired and depressed, but aren’t we all?
Every psychologist will tell you that you need to first identify the condition before you can create a plan.
So, what is burnout?
Burnout is a prolonged period of chronic stress. It is a state of total mental, energetic, and physical exhaustion. It is a state where you feel depleted, depressed, and demotivated. It is a time when you are dissatisfied with your professional life, don’t want to socialise, and use alcohol, or other substances, as your coping mechanism.
It is a state when despite your best efforts you can’t move forward, you feel stuck, and don’t see any brightens in your future. Burnout is a state when you run on empty, and you know you are about to crush but you don’t know how to stop.
It is also a time when stress and overwhelm are your primary responses, and sadness and indifference are your primary emotions.
Do you feel like your life lost its meaning? Or that it is a merry-go-round and it’s making you sick, but you don’t know how to stop it? Or maybe you have no physical energy and getting up in the morning is a near-impossible task to do?
Your Burnout Recovery Plan
As a Health and Wellness Coach, I often think about prevention. Coaching is a great tool to get you moving forward. But at the same time, I want you to build healthy, sustainable habits. I need you to have a recovery plan.
This is not so you never experience burnout or feeling stuck again. You may. Or you may encounter other challenges on your health and wellness journey. I want you to have a blueprint, so that next time you are thrown off the horse, you know how to climb back up.
So, let’s dive into the five elements your burnout recovery plan needs to include.
Why Are You Busy?
The first step in your burnout recovery plan is to understand why you experience burnout. It may sound strange to investigate the reason for the lack of motivation, but you can’t create a plan without knowing the root cause.
As mentioned, burnout happens because you have lived in a prolonged state of stress. There might have been a few sources of stress. However, the major one would be that you took on so many responsibilities, commitments, and tasks that you have no time to breathe.
You are going at a neck-breaking speed and unable to slow down. You lost the motivation and inspiration, but you can’t get off. You are irritated and impatient, and everything requires as much effort as climbing Mt. Everest.
You need to ask yourself the question why are you so busy? Why do you feel the need to do it all, be all, have all?
Take out your journal and write down what comes to you. In the beginning, you may come up with answers such as my family needs me, there is nobody else to do that particular task, or because it is expected of me to do.
This is just what’s on the surface. I want you to dive deeper. What are you trying to prove to yourself and others by being constantly busy? What human need are you trying to fulfill by working non-stop?
The deeper you go, the closer you will get to the core.
Take Control of Your Thoughts
Albert Einstein said that the mind which created the problem can’t solve it. It is hard to get excited about something if you have depressed or anxious thoughts. That is why your burnout recovery plan needs to help you to shift your mindset.
Part of why you are experiencing burnout is accredited to your thought patterns and your belief system. If you sat down and answered what you were trying to prove and what needs you were trying to fill by being busy, you got a glimpse of your thoughts and beliefs.
Your belief system was developed when you were a child, so changing it will take some time and patience. It is recommended to work with a coach or a holistic health practitioner to help you with shifting your patterns.
However, you can take the first steps by inviting mindful practices such as meditation, breath work, yoga, or journaling into your plan. The aim is to quieten the mind, slow down your thoughts, and create space.
Burnout is a result of stress and overwhelm, and to get the mental energy back you need to regain your focus. You need to shift your thoughts and mindset so you can move forward.
Go back to the statement Einstein said. If you want to get different results you need to have different thoughts that will motivate you to take different action. This way you won’t end up in the same place as before.
It is not a surprise that sleep must be a part of your burnout recovery plan. In a productivity obsessed world, when we are expected to be online nonstop, it’s inevitable that we will be looking for some extra hours in our day.
It is easy to reduce your sleeping time because this is the only thing that is truly in your control. You decide if you go to bed earlier or work on that project.
To have the energy, motivation, and inspiration you need to prioritize sleep. Sleep is important to your physical and mental health because this is the time when your body and mind regrow, rebuild, and regenerate.
During sleep, your mind can process the events of the day and segregate them into sort or long-term memory, so you wake up fresh. Your body can repair the damage the external environment caused during the day, so you have vitality in the morning.
Although scientists still don’t know the meaning behind sleep, it is recommended that you spend 7-8 hours of sleep a night. The amount of sleep may vary depending on your lifestyle, stress levels, and health concerns.
However, prolonged periods of lack of sleep can have very serious health consequences. Think about sleep like taking out the trash. The bigger the pile, the harder to move around.
But having healthy sleep hygiene as a part of your burnout recovery plan is important for one more reason. It helps you to synchronize your circadian rhythm.
The circadian rhythm is your internal wake-sleep clock. It is regulated by light and is imperative in your burnout recovery. The easiest way to synchronize your circadian clock is by developing a morning routine.
Improve Your Gut Health
Almost all modern diseases can be linked to food. This is a bold statement, however, it is proven by scientists that the Western diet is causing more harm than good. When you add the environmental pollutants and stress of modern living, no wonder we feel exhausted.
Burnout lives you with no physical energy. I remember how hard it was to get up in the morning, show up at work, and still find some strength for family or social life.
Your burnout recovery plan needs to include nutritional components. You may not feel like redoing every eating habit right now, but every little step counts. And you can start with healing your gut.
Your microbiome is responsible for almost 80% of your immune response. Therefore, the healthier your gut, the stronger your immune system. Think about your immune system as a shield against infections, viruses, and illnesses.
Recent studies also observed the connection between the health of your microbiome, brain function, and mood. The food you eat matters because it can alter your biochemistry and your hormone production. All of which can either speed up or slow down your burnout recovery.
The rule of thumb for gut health is to increase the good bacteria in your gut and reduce the harmful ones. You can do that by consuming foods called probiotics and prebiotics. Incorporating different variants of fasting and of course, reducing stress.
You may look at burnout as a negative experience. But I want you to embrace the thought that events happen for you, not to you. This mindset shift will help you to look at your current way of feeling differently.
You most likely felt tired, unmotivated, and stressed for a really long time. There were moments when your body and mind were sending you signals that something was not working. In today's noisy world, we can hear all the pings of notifications, but we tuned out the ability to listen to ourselves.
Burnout is the end result of all the previous signals which were ignored. Somewhere along the way, your body and mind were asking you to slow down. And this is a step your burnout recovery plan must include.
For a busy, productive, and action orientated person, slowing down may seem terrifying. I know it was for me. But when you are traveling at a high speed, you rarely have the chance to check if you are traveling in the right direction.
So slow down and revisit your goals. Are you still passionate about the things you were doing and you need a short break to recharge? Or are you lost the taste for it completely and you are ready for something new?
You are a part of nature, and nothing in nature stays still. Don’t be afraid to change the direction you travel, start something new, or end something that has stopped working for you.
How to Recover from Burnout
If you’ve experienced burnout or are heading towards it, I want you that you are not alone. You are not broken and there isn’t anything wrong with you only because you hit a roadblock.
Burnout happens when you live in prolonged mental, emotional, and physical stress. It leaves you unmotivated, depleted, and exhausted. That is why having a burnout recovery plan can speed up your journey to health.
Look after yourself holistically by taking care of your body and mind.