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Burnout is when someone is so overworked or stressed that they have a mental breakdown. When burnout hits, your productive output plummets, your creative ability disappears and you’re no longer able to be completely rational. It’s not pretty.
Andres and I have both experienced burnout in our entrepreneurial lives. It’s horrible. And now we’re working to help people steer clear of burnout with Wakeout 3.0 . But just an app is never enough, and you’ll have to take burnout seriously if you want to stay happy and functional year round.
Signs that you’re about to go up in flames
The problem with burnout is that it sneaks up on you. You’re focused on getting stuff done. You’re working on auto pilot, so the days go by and you barely notice you’ve been straining your brain to it’s breaking point. Next thing you know, you’re unable to cope with even the simplest tasks.
Detecting burnout early is the only way to prevent catastrophe. But here at Wakeout we’re more interested in preventive measures rather than reactive ones. Before we go into detail on how to keep yourself from going out like a glorious ball of fire, here are the agreed upon symptoms of imminent combustion:
- You’ve become irritable, easily annoyed
- You feel resentment, cynical towards others
- You’re here, but you’re not really here
- Your sleep is terrible
- You’re constantly tired, sleepy, fatigued
- You feel you never have time for anything
- You haven’t called mom, grandma, your kids in a while
- You rarely have time to exercise
- You’re unable to connect with your loved ones
- You don’t have anything to talk about other than work
- You can’t relax, even when you’re on vacation
Read this list a few times and see if 5 or more of these things resonate with you. If so, stay calm, but act now. You might be at risk of going supernova. It’s time to take a step back and cool yourself with the following preventive measures. And even if you didn’t connect with any on the list, apply the following to your life to stay perpetually chill.
1. Find joy at work
If you’re constantly at odds with your job, chances are high you’ve already burned out, or will burn out soon. Work is stressful, hating it makes it worse. It’s your responsibility — nay! — your obligation to develop a positive outlook about your job (or quit!). Find something about it that brightens your day.
If there’s nothin that you can think of, get creative. Set goals for yourself and celebrate when you’ve reached them. Take initiative and come up with a new project. Find new ways to do old things. We humans have an incredible capacity for joy in even the most miserable of places.
Also, avoid toxic people at work. Their bitterness is flammable and will set you alight without you realizing it.
2. Schedule sacred unplugged time
Whether its by yourself, with your partner or friends, schedule some unplugged time in your day and week that’s sacred. No matter how busy you are, stop what you’re doing when the clock strikes the scheduled time. Unplugged time means fully unplugged. No smartphones. No computers. You can use this time to read, to workout, to play board games with your partner, etc. The idea here is that you let your brain rest from technology to fully enjoy the present.
3. Take a nap
Research shows taking a daily nap can reverse the effects of stress. Just 30 minutes can rejuvenate your your mind and body ready to take on the weight of daily living a new. I swear by my naps and love to take one right after lunch to refuel the mind.
4. Be active every day
I’m sure you’re not surprised to find this here. Think of exercise as the fire extinguisher to your overworked self. When you get your blood pumping, your body springs to life, shaking up your whole system to support the physical activity. The proof is in how you feel after a good workout — freaking awesome! Make sure you’re moving about at least 20 minutes every day to prevent burnout.
5. Don’t worry about the past. Don’t dread the future.
Keeping your mind busy with the things you can’t immediately control will keep you awake at night. Your sleep will suffer and soon the rest of your life with tumble like dominos. Plan your days, plan your weeks. Get control over the things you can, and forget the rest. We’re visual creatures — write things down! Once on paper, you can visualize your life more clearly. This will help you stay in the present.
6. Have an unwind ritual
After a good day’s work, we recommend you have a de-stressing ritual. Don’t immediately plunge into the couch and start a Netflix binge. Do something that really cools you off. This could be any of the activities below:
- Journal writing
- Jogging or walking the dogs
- Practicing your hobby
- A dip in the hot tub
After than you can Netflix the night away.
7. Give yourself a daily pep talk
I’ve been practicing this for the past few weeks and it’s been game changing for me. There are days where work can feel overwhelming. Pumping yourself up for the challenge before you start climbing that hill has really made my days much more enjoyable.
Before you start your day, sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and visualize yourself accomplishing everything you’ve set yourself up for. Tell yourself how great you’ll do with each task and even think a little about the strategies you’ll have to efficiently accomplish each thing on your daily list. It only takes 5 minutes, but makes a huge difference.