Something’s gotta give
How to beat burnout—for real.
“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.