Some­thing’s gotta give

How to beat burnout—for real.

ELLE (Canada) - - Guide -

“AM I BURNED OUT?” Our Magic 8-Ball says: If you have to ask, signs point to yes. Text­book burnout starts in the work­place. But any­one with a job and a pulse can at­test that it has trick­led into our per­sonal lives. And, big sur­prise, stud­ies show that women— es­pe­cially per­fec­tion­ist types—are more sus­cep­ti­ble to it than men. Here are the main symp­toms, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts: Emo­tional ex­haus­tion: Feel like you have noth­ing left to give at the of­fice and it’s only 9 a.m.? THAT’S A SIGN. Cyn­i­cism: Maybe you loved work­ing in cus­tomer ser­vice, but now you’re prickly with ev­ery­one who comes into your store. Or you’re quick to snap at col­leagues or your fam­ily. Be aware of these per­son­al­ity changes. Re­duced pro­duc­tiv­ity: You. Just. Can’t. Get. Any­thing. Done. And this time it’s not be­cause you’ve been on­line shop­ping. You feel like you’re spin­ning.

How can you deal—with­out quit­ting your job, like, yes­ter­day or es­cap­ing to a yurt in Baja? Do one or two or all of the fol­low­ing. STOP SAY­ING YES ALL THE GD TIME. We get it—you want to be in­dis­pens­able at work. But here’s the prob­lem with that: Say­ing yes to ev­ery­thing your col­leagues ask of you doesn’t guar­an­tee the cor­ner of­fice (only that oth­ers will fob off their work on you). Also key: You’re no good to any­one if you’re at the end of your rope. (This ad­vice goes for IRL si­tus too.) “Give your­self per­mis­sion to know your lim­its,” says Dr. Diana Brecher, a pos­i­tive-psy­chol­ogy ex­pert at Toronto’s Ry­er­son Univer­sity. “Be­ing as­sertive re­quires some de­gree of self-in­sight, be­ing hon­est about our needs and lim­i­ta­tions and the will­ing­ness to not be liked by the per­son mak­ing the re­quest, at least tem­po­rar­ily.” Try say­ing no re­spect­fully and with sin­cere re­gret. Or “No, not right now, but I can re­visit your re­quest later.” Or just a sim­ple “no” will do. You don’t re­ally owe any­one an ex­pla­na­tion.

GIVE YOUR­SELF A TIME OUT. Tell your fam­ily that you’re tak­ing 30 min­utes to your­self—even if it’s just to grab a cof­fee or take the dog for a walk—so you can “recharge in or­der to come back to them more fully,” says well­ness ex­pert Dr. Su­san Biali Haas. BE MIND­FUL. Skip the med­i­ta­tion class if it isn’t your thing, but ev­ery ex­pert we spoke to sug­gested mind­ful­ness—deep breath­ing and fo­cus­ing on the present rather than fu­ture wor­ries—as a way to com­bat burnout. We like this three-minute ex­er­cise be­cause it’s fast but ef­fec­tive: Go to a pri­vate space and sit down with your hands in your lap. Set a timer for three min­utes and breathe in and out as you nor­mally would, fo­cus­ing on your breath­ing and the phys­i­cal sen­sa­tions in your body. No­tice your thoughts and let them go. Try to bring your body to the present. DO THIS ONE THING BE­FORE BED. No, not THAT. (But you can do that too if you want. It’s a stress re­liever.) Brecher rec­om­mends think­ing of three good things (big or small—from getting a raise to find­ing $20 on the ground) that hap­pened to you dur­ing the day and re­flect­ing on the role you played in them and what the mo­ment means in your life. “We tend to fo­cus on solv­ing prob­lems and putting things right,” she says. “In­stead, fo­cus­ing on the good things helps you keep per­spec­tive that life is both good and bad rather than just a chal­lenge.”

GET SOME HOB­BIES. Ask your­self “What re­ju­ve­nates me? What do I love? What brings me joy? What en­er­gizes me? What do I wish I had more of in my life?” says Biali Haas. And go from there.

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