The Burnout Blueprint
You know the feeling: Everything is a chore, and you feel like you’re drowning in your craft. You know your responsibilities are important, but they’re also overwhelming. It’s easy to get exhausted, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to recover from burnout. In fact, there are many ways that you can take care of yourself and improve your mental health so that burnout doesn’t become chronic — these include identifying triggers for your feelings of exhaustion and giving yourself a break when needed.
Identify your triggers.
Burnout is often caused by a combination of factors, so it’s important to identify what exactly is contributing to your burnout. Is it failure? injuries? work? school? family? friends? personal life? Try to think back and pinpoint specific times when you felt the most burned out — what was happening in those moments that made you feel overwhelmed or exhausted?
Give yourself a break.
Take breaks during the day.
Figure out your own schedule but try to take a break every 90 minutes or so. This can be as simple as going for a walk in nature or sitting outside with your eyes closed for 10 minutes. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night, too — it’s recommended that 7–9 hours per night is healthy for high pressure performers.
Make sure you know when you need a break by paying attention to the level of energy and focus you have throughout the day; if it’s low at one point during the week (or even every day), then take some time off until that feeling passes.
Know that your feelings are normal.
Burnout is a real thing, and you aren’t alone in experiencing it. You are not a failure or lazy for feeling this way, and it is important to know that there are ways to get through it.
Take care of your relationships.
Make time for friends and family.
Don’t neglect your loved ones.
Don’t isolate yourself from others, especially those who care about you most.
Don’t let work or sport take over your life, and don’t let it become the only thing that matters in your world. If you do, it will make it harder to get away from when things get tough at work — and they will.
The best way to keep burnout at bay is by making sure that there are other things going on in life besides your sport or job; this includes spending time with friends or family members who make us feel happy about ourselves as people rather than as useful machines. If we spend all day working hard but not taking care of ourselves emotionally or physically, we’ll eventually hit a wall where our bodies simply cannot take any more stress without breaking down under its own weight.
Schedule time for self-care, like journaling and meditation.
You might be surprised to learn that journaling and meditation can help you overcome burnout. These activities are so important to your health, and it’s hard to believe they’d have any impact on your mental state, but they do. Journaling helps reduce stress by releasing endorphins into the body and improving sleep quality by reducing stress impact on the body. Meditation has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety levels as well as improve focus and attention span.
However, finding time for these activities can be difficult. To make sure this isn’t an issue:
Schedule time in advance so that there’s no question about whether it will happen; then stick with it.
Get more sleep.
Sleep is important for mental health. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that high pressure performers get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. If you’re feeling exhausted, or if your sleep quality has been declining, try these tips:
Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time every day (even on weekends so that your body can stay in routine).
Get sunlight exposure during the day. Sunshine helps regulate our circadian rhythms (the daily cycle of hormone release that tells us when to feel tired or awake) and also boosts serotonin production (a mood regulator).
Avoid caffeine after 2 p.m., which can disrupt your ability to fall asleep at night even though it may make you feel more awake initially.
Make time for fun.
If you’re feeling burnt out, it’s time to take some time off. The best way to avoid burnout is by making sure that your life balance is in check. That means having a life outside of work or athletics — and that includes spending time with friends and family members (or even just yourself).
Take up a hobby that interests you. If there’s something on your bucket list, now is the perfect opportunity to cross it off. A good way to do this without any pressure at all would be by taking up an activity such as yoga or boxing classes at your local gym or even just going for walks in nature every day instead of sitting at home watching TV shows after hours like so many people tend do nowadays due to their busy lifestyles these days.
Burnout is a complex issue and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. However, if you can identify your triggers and take small steps to improve your mental health, it may help you manage burnout. If you’re experiencing burnout, take some time off (or just do less), talk with someone about how you’re feeling, and get support from friends/family members who care about you.
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