Usually, vacation days are planned far in advance. But last week, I had to take an emergency day off.
I’m not sure if it was a busier work season, the fact that we have foster puppies right now, or it was in the air, but I felt like I was going to crash and burn if I didn’t take a moment to rest.
If you’re feeling self-doubt, experiencing detachment or resentment toward what you’re doing, becoming more cynical, feeling like a failure, or have an all-around decreased satisfaction in your day-to-day life, you may be facing burnout. I had a fantastic talk with Anna Lovell-Nesmith, who is a burnout specialist, about how to deal with that moment that you’re at the end of your rope.
1. Take a breath
Maybe you’re too busy for a day off. You’re not too busy to take a breath.
Anna’s advice: “Take big, deep breaths, count your breaths, and ask God for mindfulness and peace. Within 60 seconds, your whole body starts to calm down. Your blood pressure lowers, everything physiologically starts to settle, and it’s only 60 seconds.”
2. Do a brain dump
Insomnia can make burnout worse. The more you worry, the less you sleep, and that leads to an endless spiral of frustration.
If there’s something that’s weighing heavily on your heart or mind, Anna’s advice is to take just 2 minutes before you fall asleep to “brain dump” those worries into a journal. Getting it all out lets your mind be more at ease for a peaceful night’s rest.
3. Sort your tasks
In life, there are things we have to do and things we want to do. It’s important to know the difference:
- If something is have to do/want to do, that’s a win-win!
- If something is have to do/don’t want to do, that’s a chore. Plot those out over the course of the week and see if there’s any room to outsource them.
- If something is don’t have to do/want to do, that’s a hobby and where you can find a bit of joy!
- If something is don’t have to do/don’t want to do, SAY NO.
This may seem overly simplistic, but it’s easy to feel like we owe everyone everything. That’s not the case. You can cancel plans. You don’t have to follow-up on something that isn’t beneficial. You can say no to doing favors for others if it’s going to be at the cost of your mental health.
The more I’ve used this tool, the more I’ve realized that there are a lot of things in my life that I don’t actually have to do. And it’s provided so much freedom.
Wherever you are in your burnout, I hope you can take some time off, or at the very least, take a very deep breath. The God of the universe took a day of rest. We can too.
If you’d like more information on ways to avoid burnout, Anna Lovell-Nesmith is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on burnout and other topics covered in therapy, check out the Holy Mess Podcast: