How to Prevent Burnout: A Feature of the Best Strategies to Stay Productive

How to Prevent Burnout: A Feature of the Best Strategies to Stay Productive

Maintaining a healthy and successful career is highly dependent on our daily habits. Before any title, position, or role we play in life, each of us are human beings first. One of our inalienable rights includes what a lot of us need most – rest. If you’re feeling somewhat lost or you feel like your eyelids are just holding up tears, like a fragile glass waiting to break; then read on. If you want to know on hw to prevent burnout, then this article is for you!

When it all builds up...

“Just 5 more minutes.” A familiar line most of us have heard from ourselves. When we start sleeping less and start working like machines, burnout begins. Oftentimes, it’s not even about work or school anymore. When we come across unpleasant news online as we scroll through our timeline, being bombarded with information can cause us to feel devastated, hopeless, and burned out. And sometimes when we take a break from social media we feel even more burned out, this time it’s because we’re left out, and it makes us guilty to think for one second that we’re choosing solitude and bliss over sympathy and knowledge. Burnout comes in many shapes and sizes 

Do you remember when you were a kid, you didn’t have to worry about paying taxes, rent, dues, and having a job? Whether or not you come from a point of privilege, each of us has been children before, and all we wanted to do was play around and have fun. Nowadays, we’re all grown up, it seems somewhat arbitrary that all we want now is just rest.  

You wanted that piece of delicious food for yourself but you decided against it because now self-care and self-love feel like over-indulgence. You wanted to wear your #ootd for the day but you chose to wear the same old plain jane outfit instead because you didn’t have the time to get ready. We wanted to take countless breaks in moments our body has reminded us to, yet we refused to do so each time because rest doesn’t make money. It’s interesting how we’ve grown into people who have our visions set on merits that are solely centered on money. And as much as you don’t want to admit it, there is a thing as too much coffee. 

Sure, if you ask a homeless man if money was important, he’d say definitely, but so is kindness, dreams, and health. You see, no matter what status we hold in each of our lives, we take part in society. In doing so, part of our role is taking care of ourselves, understanding the warning signs when our bodies are demanding to be well rested and taken care of.

10 Red Flags of Burnout 

1.  Insomnia and sleep troubles
2. Lethargy and apathy 
3. Feelings of emptiness 
4. Absence at work or school 5. Body aches and muscle tension 
6. Light-headedness 
7. Disinterest in most things 
8. Irritability and quick-temperedness 
9. Recurring nightmares 
10. Emotional instability 

While there are countless factors that can be red flags for burnout, above are just the 10 most prominent ones. Despite stress being a primary threshold of burnout, there are other characteristics that may lead to the same result.  

Exhibit A, when you have an important project on hand and you experience a splurge of difficulty in addressing the failures of technology, repetition and combination of multiple stressors can lead to feeling uneasy. Instead of addressing the ongoing issue at hand, there’s an exit that says “panic,” and sometimes we result to entering the said door. We worry, neglect sleep, we overthink, and the next thing we know, it’s been 72 hours since we last had a meal.  

Say you’re running a start-up business and you experience a decline in the number of sales you receive for the third run. And you think to yourself, all the endless questions on how you can rise up back on your feet. As a small business, you’re worried about how you can register your business, or make an impact with your audience, and at the same time work sustainably because the climate is dependent on every action we do – all the while that there’s an ongoing pandemic. The next thing you know, you’re faint to your knees and you’re spewing hurtful words to your employees because you haven’t eaten for days or slept for 2 days.

How burnout affects our daily...

The first thing you need to do is take a breather. This will help you calm down. If you already feel fidgety and you’re running on more than 2 cups of coffee, you absolutely and with no hint of a doubt – need to relax. Some things go beyond our control, and that’s okay. Part of life is understanding that some of our goals and intentions don’t always go as planned. If people can get cancelled, then so can plans, trips, events, and projects. We need to digest it into our system and accept how stressors aren’t worth the energy we give them.  

Instead of dwelling on how bad something is going, why not take a step back and try looking at the bigger picture. If that doesn’t work then take a tiny step closer, and look at how the smallest bits of things affect the bigger picture. Small things like giving yourself a pat on the shoulder when you submitted that project. Or other small things like not feeling guilty of sleeping for 8 hours because you know that you deserve it, and it’s part of your inalienable rights as a human being.  

If we constantly focus on the failures we experience, then there’s no doubt that we’ll really feel burned out. There’s no question about it if we choose to overwhelm ourselves with obligations and mixed-up responsibilities, then we’ll really end up in a dungeon of emptiness, darkness, and distress.  

For example, if you’re getting ready for an interview for your first job and you have no idea what to say despite preparing, then look at your resume. Look at your accomplishments, look at how your best friend messaged you a “good luck!” There are people who are rooting for you. There are people who believe in what you’re capable of. So why would you look at your seatmate whom you’ve heard graduated from a prestigious university, while your degree came from a school in the rural region – who cares about that? Consider that it isn’t all about the labels and stereotypes that take us under the radar of minorities. It is how we uphold ourselves and act on the things we think of.

The Paradox of Productivity

We strive to be productive because we want to succeed. If you look at the textbook definition of the word “productivity,” you’ll be led to a loop of information describing only a lump sum of succeeding and generating work. However, in hindsight, productivity isn’t just boxed under that idea. While we often pair productivity with creating outputs, productivity can also be a medium where we treat ourselves as humans. And being human means inevitably learning and continuously growing.  

We’re well aware of the lapses and flaws of technology, but we sometimes still expect ourselves and our peers to be similar to these computer-generated machines. It’s both interesting and confusing to think that we are already aware of how things go, yet we complicate our daily lives by expecting too much of ourselves and pushing ourselves to each of our breaking points. Of course, if we push ourselves to the breaking point, then what do we expect? We lose each time we give in to the temptation of overwhelming ourselves with the idea of working like a machine that can be run down and replaced.  

When you were in high school, college, or even at work, you’ve probably come across that one person who likes gathering all the work. Perhaps it could even be you. The characteristics of this person seem uncanny because this person speaks endlessly of how rest is something he or she has dreamed of for the longest time but still continues to collect all the responsibilities. It’s not like we’d win a billion dollars if we get the most work done, or if we sleep the least.  

We know that no good comes from neglecting the physiological needs of our existence, yet we remain in a state of neglect when it comes to giving ourselves a break.

When to begin the paradigm shift

Now to clear out any confusion that may come around, nobody’s advising you to just drop everything, shut your eyes and sleep for 3 days straight. We each have our responsibilities, but the thing is, working around what fits our goals, schedules, and deadlines, should all work around our needs. What are our needs? We might not even be aware.  

Citing to the United Nations International Human Rights Law: “Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.” Just as we want to succeed, each of us is entitled to the right to pursue rest and happiness. Working on projects that don’t drive us into the void of insanity. Instead, work on projects like building your own PC from scratch, or writing a book, it could be anything! Other than the 9 to 5 schedule you’ve got going on, or whatever it must be that your work hours revolve under, remind yourself of your right to sleep and be happy.  

You might just go mad if you continue working and slaving around all day and all night for the countless responsibilities you hoarded out of impulse. Shift the paradigm, it’s okay. If you’ve made a mistake, be honest about it and set your pride aside as you speak to yourself kindly while you ask for help. Asking for help isn’t a protruding sign that barks at you when you come near it. Help is a hand that is there, waiting for you to grab it, like a door of opportunity waiting for you to enter and come home, after a long journey of hustling.  

If you’ve already turned tabled and gone angry because of feeling burned out, then perhaps now is the time that you forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for choosing to stay up another hour than you should, forgive yourself for forgetting to drink a glass of water for a week, forgive yourself for the grudge you’ve been holding against the person you see in the mirror because she gained a little weight. Know that nobody will give you rest other than yourself. You know what your limits are and you know how you can make things better.  

Hey, if all else fails, and you still can’t sleep, talk to your friends – they still exist by the way. Tell them how burned out and exhausted you’ve been feeling. Certainly, it’s not just about work when we feel tired, worked up, and anxious. Sometimes we also get the feeling of burnout when we hear something that isn’t good about the world or we hear about stories that break our hearts into each atom we could never count. We catch ourselves just sitting on our computer chair thinking of how privileged we are to still be where we are, but at the same time in a sea of mixed emotions. Sometimes life is like that, and it really is tiring, that’s why it’s important to give ourselves a break from time to time.  

The Consequences of Burnout

It’s not like submitting your homework or turning in a late marketing funnel – no it’s nothing like that. The consequences of burnout supersede the demerits we could ever face in school or in our professional careers. Like watching theatrical plays, the consequences of burnout can affect your productivity dramatically. The impact may just cause a dent in your credibility, reputation, and title if you work around a high-functioning and fast-paced environment. But don’t take these words as a horror story, because if there are ways to fall flat on your face, then this means that there are countless ways to stay upright and stand. 

Strategies on Avoiding Burnout

  1. 1. Find your purpose in working or studying – Being reminded of things is like understanding poetry. We almost never take things literally. You’d know it from Shakespeare, Robert Frost, Rupi Kaur, or Lang Leav – that poetry, just like sustaining daily life, is something that just doesn’t fit the literal understanding. So, we take it as a metaphor when we discover or rediscover our purpose – there’s no pressure. Just find it, in your medulla oblongata or deep within the bottom of your hypothalamus – the gland in our brain that plays a role in regulating our emotional responses.  

  2. 2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – Who ever authored asking for help as something that should cause self-dismay or even something that should be seen as terrifying? Why is it so scary to ask for help? Just ask, if you get rejected then try asking a different person. Good people help, or sometimes, people who are less busy have a lending hand that you can grab onto when you already feel like sinking. Just ask! 

  1. 3. Move those muscles – As much as we’d all just love to eat and not gain weight, unfortunately, we don’t possess that superpower. So, for at least 15 minutes a day, work those muscles. Stretch, do some squats or watch YouTube videos on 15-minute workouts that won’t make you drop into an ocean of sweat. That isn’t the goal, just move around, no pressure!
  1. 4. Set realistic goals and standards – Have you ever heard that line they say in school before? The one that says “your grades do not define you,” the one they say right after you receive a not so remarkable grade? Remember that? In case you do or you don’t do well, it sure is true. You are not measured by what you can do or the things you can accomplish as you try so hard to list them down and achieve them all at once. You are more than what the grade givers of this world think you ought to be, and your capabilities go far beyond the standardized measurements of success. So, take it day by day, or even second by second, and set the goals that are realistic to achieve. Like waking up in the morning, taking a bath, watering the plants, sending that email. Of course, settling for mediocrity is nobody’s recommendation, just notice that thin line between setting realistic goals and setting ones that are unattainable.
  1. 5. Be kind to yourself – This can already be considered is self-explanatory, but to expound on what these four words say – being kind to yourself isn’t just about achieving and accomplishing and being the best in the whole wide world and in the entire universe. That in sense, already sounds absurd! Showing kindness towards yourself could be sparing more than 5 minutes, so you can pray for your friends, loved ones, family, and your country, or mere strangers you have no connection with but you still wish them well. Being kind to yourself could be forgiving yourself for that one embarrassing mistake you’ve made on July 18, 2019 – nobody remembers it as badly as you. Perhaps being kind to yourself is treating yourself with basic respect, allowing yourself enough room to grow, learn, rest, and be happy without cost.  

  1. 6. Get a Hobby – Whether it be planting, painting, ice skating, archery, or playing chess – get a hobby. Figure out what things grab your interest and what things do not? Part of resting is doing activities that aren’t anchored on work and your livelihood. If you somehow discover that you like baking, then perhaps you can try making different patisseries. Or maybe you can collect 365 photographs of each sunrise daily. Notice how wonderful it is to wake up at dawn, and feel the breeze – inhale that precious oxygen! It’s free!  

    7. Travel – You don’t have to book a cruise around the world, or travel 12,000 kilometers away from where you sit now. Maybe visit a farm, see how they plant and harvest the precious strawberries you include on your afternoon fruit shake. Search the web, check out the different small businesses around your neighborhood, that way you can also support locals. These things don’t need to be grand to be enjoyed.  


The Wisdom of Rest

There is no rule book, dictionary, map, or blueprint on how we should give ourselves a break. You will find none of that anywhere. Why? It’s because as unique as our DNA, we too have differences in coping, resting, and experiencing happiness. It’s unavoidable that we’ll experience days of monotony or days that drive our serotonin and dopamine levels to the ground, but – maybe that’s our ‘‘GO’’ signal. Maybe each time we are called to face a task that seems a little too challenging or beyond our control, it’s our time to shine and finally inhale deeply, and exhale softly.  

Remember, don’t just drop everything and run away from your responsibilities because you read in this article that rest and happiness are actually part of our human rights. It doesn’t work that way, sad to say. But, luckily enough, communication is the gateway, the beacon of hope, the key to unlocking and rediscovering a new dimension of ourselves that are not powered by caffeine and energy drinks. It’s called the healthy version of ourselves. It exists by the way, in case you missed out on that.  

Chill out...

Life isn’t a race or a game where you’d have to win. There’s no true joy in beating yourself up for things that you can’t control. Sometimes you just have to accept how things turn out and learn how you should conduct yourself and your actions the next time around.  

When you hear something that isn’t so pleasant, pray for the people affected, and hold on to that hope firmly, just as you would hold a glass of water. You don’t just let it go and ignore how it crashes to the ground into a thousand small pieces. If you feel that you’ve gone soft, while everything has morphed into hallo blocks, then perhaps you can be the sheet of cotton that keeps fragile glass from shattering.  

Speaking of water, have you had your 8 glasses today? If not, maybe you should start with that. Usually, water is free, sometimes it’s bottled and labeled commercially, but it’s one thing that costs less than that expensive 12-ounce overpriced coffee. Some things are actually free, so just take it easy. Explore different sights, visit a coworking place, read one of the books that are collecting dust on your bookshelf, cook for your loved ones on a random day, or run around in circles with your pet, go nuts, releasing some steam doesn’t need to be expensive. 😉 

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