The stress of 2020 has caused a rise in irritability, restlessness, hopelessness, anxiety, grogginess, and more. If you have had any of these feelings, it is possible that you are heading toward a complete burnout.
What is Burnout?
Herbert Freudenberg defines burnout as the state of losing all motivation or incentive. Burnout is often produced by an elongated amount of repeated stress. Burnout is a common and serious result of prolonged stress, causing enhanced overall anxiety, exhaustion, and helplessness.
A Unique Year
The year 2020 is unique in many ways, especially in how we both experience and cope with stress. COVID-19 has caused an increase of financial distress, health concerns, school struggles, employment worries, loneliness, and depression. What do we usually do when we’re overwhelmed? Often stress relief looks like spending time with families and friends; escaping away on vacation; exercising at the gym or a workout class; seeing a movie; going to a restaurant or dancing with friends. With COVID-19, we’re likely unable to access our favorite go-to stress relievers, which can contribute to an accelerated course toward ultimate burnout.
How to Tell if You’re Burnt Out
The following are five common effects of experiencing burnout:
- Irritability. You may be feeling like more short-tempered than usual, maybe snapping and lashing out at those around you more often. You may even shock yourself at how quick you are to switch to feelings of irritation and annoyance.
- Procrastination. As you become more stressed, it’s possible for feelings of perfectionism to become overwhelming and therefore affect your ability to work. Are you finding yourself pushing off assignments—even simple ones—until the last minute more than usual? This isn’t due to laziness; it is likely harmful perfectionism due to stress.
- Restlessness & grogginess. Unfortunately stress will often keep us up at night, which will then make us feel groggy during the day. Do you find yourself tossing and turning in bed, to only find yourself dozing off sporadically throughout the day?
- Health issues. When stress is left unchecked and unregulated, our bodies can pay the ultimate price. You may be feeling more flare-ups of chronic health-related issues, and you may also be getting sick more often. Our immune systems are unable to work at full capacity when we are flooded with stress and not sleeping or eating well.
- Increased depression & anxiety. With all that has been going on in 2020, you may be feeling heightened levels of depression and anxiety and other mental health conditions. This may include increased feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, and worry. You may even begin to feel numb and unresponsive.
Adapt or Burn Out
It is common to feel an added level of stress. Though stress management may look different now, it is still just as crucial—if not more—to maintain a healthy mind and body. Be sure to check with your local COVID-19 guidelines. Here are five COVID-safe ways to adapt your self-care and stress management:
- Prioritize your health. Often in times of stress, our health gets put on the backburner Are you having difficulty sleeping? Reflect on your nighttime routine. Perhaps turn off all screens an hour or two before you go to bed. Avoid eating right before going to bed to prevent your body from having to work too much digesting your food while you sleep. Read a book to calm your eyes before sleep. Also reflect on the food you’re putting into your body. Is it nutritious and filling? While comfort food is definitely helpful during these challenging times, be sure you are also getting adequate nourishment and hydration throughout the day, as well. Additionally, set aside time each day to move your body, stretch your limbs, and get your heart rate going. Changing your heart rate every day can change your life.
- Maintain relationships. The days can begin to blur together, especially if you live alone or away from most of your family and friends. Burnout will have you feeling isolated and alone. Technology can be a fuel feelings isolation if we let it; technology can also help cultivate relationships. Perhaps set a goal to reach out to one or two people per day throughout the week, and see how you feel at the end of the week. Remember you are valued, and reach out to someone you love or to a professional if you are feeling lonely, unmotivated, and hopeless.
- Invest in a hobby. Create time to learn a new hobby or expand your skills within a hobby. So often we become sucked into the day-to-day routine that we lose ourselves in the process. Your hobbies and what you love are what make you, you. Learning something new is also good for your brain health and to increase overall motivation throughout the day and even in other tasks.
- Create a plan. There is power that comes when you set goals and plans for your day and week. Perhaps begin the week by sitting down and setting goals for each day and what you hope to accomplish by the end of the week. Creating a schedule that includes goals will help you feel motivated and provide purpose and direction for the day. Complacency and burnout can be intensified when we lose a schedule or a sense of healthy routine. These goals can focus on mental health, emotional health, and physical health. They can also help you make room in your week for peaceful moments and things to look forward to, like a relaxing bath, a phone call with a friend, and a fun hike.
- Get some fresh air. When and where allowed, take some time to get outside. Keep a safe distance from others and maintain a respectful approach while also allowing yourself time away from screens. Spending time with nature has been proven to decrease levels of stress and increase overall feelings of wholeness and peace. If you would like to bring the outdoors inside, BrainTap’s headset and app facilitate that peace and calm found in the outdoors.
Brain Health Over Burnout
Focusing on one’s brain health is one of the greatest and most effective ways to live happier, healthier lives. BrainTap uses its technology and mind development apps to create visualization, relaxation, and biohacking techniques to help people reach states of healing, relaxation, and productivity. The year 2020 does not need to end in burnout. As our ancestors have done for centuries, we, too, can adapt to our new surroundings and changing circumstances. Burnout is real, valid, and serious. If you think you may be approaching burnout, please reach out to a loved one and/or a professional.