Six Things I Learned From Experiencing Burnout

Since the pandemic, the existence of burnout has become more prominent, especially due to the lack of social interaction. Burnout, however, was never rare and has always been present whenever we push ourselves beyond our stress limit for a prolonged period. One day, we may feel completely fine with our overloaded schedule, feeling productive and all, while we may feel unmotivated and doubtful the next. This may seem normal, but it can actually hurt you in the long run if the feelings regularly occur. In fact, too much stress can get unhealthy, causing you to be in a repeated cycle of burnout. In the hopes of easing your stress or preventing burnout from happening to you, I have listed a few practical tips that I learned from personal experience.

 

  1. 1. Get mobile.

    Before I knew burnout existed, I did not realize that I had a talent of being able to sit in the same spot for five hours straight (which is not a good thing to brag about). Constantly facing my computer for hours on end in an unhealthy posture, I got severe back pain to the point where I felt tired all the time. And, being in pain feeling like your body has never been any stiffer is not such a good combination with working. Ironically enough, my energy was partially drained because I was barely moving. So, dedicate some of your time towards doing something that forces you to move such as sports, dancing, or yoga. My personal favorite was walking around my neighborhood, but the options are endless. Just do anything but sitting or laying down for at least 5 minutes and you may start seeing a positive boost in your energy.

  2. 2. Accept that you’re overwhelmed and that taking a break is ok.

    Asian woman looking at reflection

    This is easier said than done, especially when you’re a workaholic and hate breaks because they make you feel guilty. However, taking a good break—even when you did not finish all of your tasks—is valid. When you become too absorbed in overloading your schedule, you are practically asking for burnout to happen sooner. Working and getting assignments done is important, but you still need to mentally check in with yourself by asking some of these questions: How am I feeling? Am I happy right now? Why do I feel like I am at the edge? How can I ease the tenseness even just a little? 

     

    On top of acknowledging that a break is necessary, you need to realize that you may have been too tough on yourself. Face your current state and think about how you can incorporate a few breaks because your health should always be your top priority. 

  3. 3. Reflect and re-evaluate your long-term goal(s) regularly.

    To-do, list, paper, pen, journal

    “But I don’t have time.” No worries, even reflecting for a few minutes can be effective. 

    Prior to my burnout, I was always thinking about my path towards my long-term goals, but it was only at the back of my head. Because my thoughts were jumbled together, I easily felt overwhelmed because I didn’t know a lot about my progress. I consistently posed questions such as: Am I on the right path? What is my next checkpoint? What else do I need to do? Thinking about these questions in a confused state took up more time than if I were to actually reflect on them. This may cause you to lose your purpose and motivation, so it is crucial to spend some time closely thinking about your long-term goals and jot down any adjustments if needed. Who knows? Maybe you will scratch that goal entirely with a better one. 

  4. 4. A social-media diet is crucial.

    facebook login on phone with social media scrabble tiles

    Platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are meant to entertain the public, but it’s very easy to fall into the trap of heavily depending on these apps. When you get addicted, you may feel like you need to share every single moment of your life, which causes you to start seeking satisfaction through people over a screen. This only leads to focusing on the opinions of others, overly-obsessing over your appearance, and gaining followers or likes. This may seem fun, but it will only put extra weight on your stress load because you are balancing multiple large tasks at once.

    A break from social media may sound scary, but you will feel normal after a few days. Once you start realizing how social media has affected you and your daily life, you will find that going on occasional breaks will be easier. 

  5. 5. Cut habits that make you feel worse.

    Something as simple as scrolling through your social media feed can make you feel bad about yourself whether it’s about your appearance, intellect, or skills. Reverting to these unhealthy habits is an ineffective way to cope with your stress as you come back drained and realize that time has passed by a lot. Accept that what you are doing makes you feel worse and start replacing them with healthy routines such as reading a book, watching a documentary, or learning cooking recipes. The last thing that we want is to complete our assignments when our self-esteem is at an all-time low, so stray away from the guilty (non)pleasures. 

  6. 6. Maintain an open mind.

    woman with her eyes closed smiling at the camera

    Falling behind on your schedule? Failing from your decisions? Things not going as planned? It is completely okay, and, as cliche as it may sound, your days will get better. Coming from an ex-perfectionist, not everything (or anything) is meant to be perfect. You can slip and mistakes will happen. But, this is the art of living and learning. When you have a goal in mind, you may work hard to reach that point, but it doesn’t mean you will achieve it the first time. It’s human to feel disappointed but you need to look at your failures as a way to learn. Get back up and try again on another path that may bring you more opportunities. Being too caught up on your past can only wear your energy out even faster. 

     

    Not only that, but don’t stay too focused on your goals all the time. Step outside of your interests and take on challenges that do not necessarily align with your major. Try out something fun and I can promise that you will get something out of it. 

Avoiding burnout is tough, but you can start by taking mini steps such as acknowledging your current state. Confront your own feelings and ask yourself questions. Get used to self-reflections and face what is making you feel overwhelmed. And, remember that you are not alone, no matter how exhausted or disconnected you may feel.