Most high performers think that they need to keep hustling… faster, harder and for longer if they’re to achieve their goals. If you’re that classic ‘type A’ personality, someone who runs on stress and caffeine and a lack of rest… then you’re probably heading for burnout.
And if you’ve already experienced burnout, you’ll know that there’s nothing like it. Symptoms vary by individual but typically include a sense of crushing fatigue, difficulty ‘getting started’ or feeling motivated, mistakes, a lack of connection with loved ones, a feeling of constant anxiety, and – very often – accompanying illness.
If your shoulders are around your ears, you can’t remember the last time you did something fun or relaxed with loved ones, or you’re constantly feeling stressed and under the weather, then it’s time to stop and take stock.
The culture of busyness is making us ill, and we still equate great leaders with individuals that never stop striving, working, delivering and going the extra mile.
But when you burn out, it’s incredibly hard to get back on track and heal again. Wherever you think you may be on the burnout curve (and if you’re reading this, the chances are you are well on the way) then these are some recovery tactics to try:
1. Prioritise quality rest
There’s no such thing as skimping on sleep and performing at your peak. And, only a very tiny proportion of the population can actually thrive on five hours (or less!) a night. Get to bed early and get up earlier if necessary to get more done.
The world constantly demands our attention, and it wears us down. Regain your focus by reflecting quietly, alone and without a screen. Meditation is ideal for resetting our brain and remember that it doesn’t have to involve sitting in a Buddhist monastery for a weekend. Walking meditation works too!
We’re not talking about social media here, but meaningful and intentional connections with people that matter to us. Take the time to enjoy a meal with loved ones, go for a walk together or burn off energy playing sport on a community team. Invest in your relationships and you’ll see and feel the benefits of that nurturing connection.
If you aren’t hydrating and fuelling with plenty of water and nutritious food, then you’ll be doing yourself a disservice. We are what we eat – literally – and if we’re honest, we all know what we should be prioritising and avoiding on the food front. Think of food as a fuel that nourishes you, heals you and restores you, and see yourself as an investment. Failing that, remember what programmers say ‘Garbage In, Garbage Out’ – which applies to human systems too!
If you’re not having fun… why are you even pursuing your career goals? If you aren’t breaking off to pursue family time, social occasions, hobbies, passions, holidays and special events, then what’s the point in being successful in your work? We should all be having fun, but so many of us stop doing so. If this feels horribly familiar, take time to reconnect with something you use to love doing and treat yourself to an hour away from the office.