Ok, you’re burnt out, now what?
You’ve recognized yourself in these signs of burnout and admitted it’s time to take action. But how do you recover from burnout?
In this post, I will share a very simple 3-step approach to burnout recovery.
All you need to do is follow the steps and be gentle with yourself.
Here is the summary of the 3 steps you need to take to recover from burnout. Keep reading for a detailed explanation of each step.
Summary of 3 steps to recover from burnout
Step 1. Fix the basics.
You need to eliminate your energy drainers and maximize your energy generators to get back on track as fast as possible. Here is what you need to do:
Sleep, eat, exercise, repeat. Take a break and focus on the foundation. Eat wholesome meals, prioritize regular gentle exercise and get enough sleep.
Spend lots of time in nature. Nature is the most powerful healing resource. Walk barefoot, listen to the sounds of nature, sit by the river, lie under a tree.
Reduce the amount of stress. Eliminate the source of your burnout. If it’s your job - take a break. If it’s your parental responsibility - ask for help. If it’s a little bit of everything - reduce the number of things you do on all fronts.
Slow down. Burnout is a sign you’ve had too much on for too long. It’s time to slow down. Do less, be, less. You don’t have to be the best at everything, you can just be.
Step 2. Regain your joy.
Once you’re functioning again at a minimum level, it’s time to replenish your inner resource with the things that bring you joy. What brings you joy? Painting? Singing? Playing with a dog? Watching kids play? Walking in the mountains? Whatever it is, do that. A lot of it.
Step 3. Reassess your priorities.
You can fix your burnout this time. But how can you make sure it doesn’t happen again? Take a step back and reassess your life’s priorities.
Ok, let’s deep dive into each of the steps in more detail.
Step 1. Fix the basics.
First things first, step number one is your emergency response to burnout. Those are the immediate things you need to do to get back into the functioning human capacity.
Sleep, eat, exercise, repeat
When we burn out, we often have trouble sleeping, no time for eating well, and feeling too exhausted to exercise. Have you been drawing on your resources for way too long and now have nothing left to even fix the basics?
Take it one tiny step at a time. Start with a gentle form of exercise, like yoga or pilates. Go for a quiet tech-free walk in nature. Plan a moderate weekend hike with your friends.
While you have little energy, use it wisely, on fundamental things that will maximize your energy in the longer run. For example, cook wholesome meals for yourself and your family. It’s a great way to exercise self-care, connect with your loved ones and practice mindfulness.
This step seems obvious and boring, but, trust me, do those things, and you will feel the difference in a matter of days.
Spend lots of time in nature
Burnout happens when we draw on our energy resources for too long without putting anything in. Your priority now should be getting that energy back.
Nature is known to have great healing powers. If you want to recover from burnout fast, you should prioritize your time in nature.
Surround yourself with as much green as you can. Even better if you can be near the water - sit by the river, listen to the waterfall, swim in the lake. If you are stuck in the city and have no access to natural sources of water, even a city fountain can help you feel better.
Here are a few more things you can do to heal through nature.
If it’s the summer, lie under a tree and read a book. In the fall, go collect some leaves and make a herbarium. In the winter, make an iceman or go cross-country skiing. Whatever it is, find a way to reconnect with nature without any tech.
Reduce the amount of stress
Burnout is the result of accumulated stress that has not been successfully managed. While not all of us can afford the luxury to quit the job that burnt us out, you should at least try to take a break.
See if you can get a sabbatical or a few weeks of medical leave. Speak to your boss and discuss your responsibilities. Can someone else take over some of your workloads?
Don’t forget about the other areas of your life. Stress comes in a variety of forms. We get stressed by living in large megapolises, filled with people, noises, and other stimuli. We get stressed by overcommitting in our professional and personal lives.
Now it’s time to reduce stress on all fronts. Do less at work, see if you can move to the countryside or a smaller town for some time. See if you can use less technology and read less disturbing news.
We live in a world where everything happens at a lightning speed. And things are accelerating. Let alone the feeling of FOMO and trying to be everywhere and try everything, we also want to be everything. We want to pursue all of our dreams and hobbies.
Our weekends are packed with experiences and to-do lists. Or inboxes and calendars are flooded with notifications. We keep adding new books to our reading lists, destinations to our bucket lists, and it never stops.
Reading this paragraph is overwhelming, right? And now think about it - what does it feel to live this kind of life?
Burnout is a sign you need to slow down. Throw away your to-do list. Stop adding things to your calendar. Say no to commitments and appointments. Create time and space to be bored. Bored is good, it’s a space where you heal.
Step 2. Regain your joy.
You can do this step right after you’ve fixed your basics, or in parallel. Your joy is fundamental to replenishing your energy. But you’ve got to be strategic about the sources of your joy.
When you feel exhausted and burnt out, it might be hard to find the energy or motivation to leave your couch and stop watching Netflix. While Netflix might bring you joy, there are much better and more nurturing ways to get your emotional energy back.
Reconnect with your hobbies and favorite things to do.
Do you love cooking for friends? Maybe it’s time to throw a dinner party. Are you a dog person but don’t have your own furry friend? Volunteer to walk your neighbor’s dog or offer to pet-sit for a friend.
Have you always wanted to read all those fiction books on your list? Or maybe do a pottery course? Take tap dancing lessons? Write a book?
Now is a great time to spend time doing the things that bring you joy.
Try and not to worry about ‘being lazy’ or ‘not being productive’. Treat regaining your joy as your new temporary job!
Step 3. Reassess your priorities.
Burnout is a sure sign you need to change something in your life. While for some people a more dramatic change might be required, for others a few lifestyle changes might suffice.
It might be hard to figure out what’s next when you are feeling burnt out. After all, changing careers or starting something new requires a lot of energy, and that’s one thing you don't have when you are burnt out.
This is precisely why you should be diligent about your steps one and two. Fix your basics, regain your joy and build up enough energy to re-evaluate your life and make any necessary changes.
Once you are ready to think about your next step, ask yourself these questions:
What kind of life do you want to live that will leave no room for regrets?
What are the things that are truly important to you?
How can you build your life around what truly matters to you?
What is your purpose and how can you live your life in sync with your true being?
You don’t have to be in a high-pressure job. You don’t have to live in a city full of stimuli. You can build a life on your terms, a life you will enjoy for many years ahead, a burnout-free life.
We can help
We are a life design studio specializing in helping people design and live life on their terms. We offer holistic burnout recovery programs, that will be tailored to your needs. We can also help you figure out what’s next and design your burnout-free next chapter.
Book your complimentary consultation to discuss your particular situation and the approach that will be right for you here. You can also watch my free Burnout Masterclass packed with tools & strategies for successful burnout recovery.
About the Author
She is an ex-strategy consultant who has experienced burnout herself and successfully recovered. Her signature Holistic Burnout Recovery program will help you get back on track and live a balanced and fulfilling life.
You can apply to Natalya’s program here.
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