Especially in times of extended stress, such as what we are experiencing with this pandemic, mental exhaustion, more commonly known as burnout, can truly happen to anyone. Especially since what is going on in our part of the world is out of our hands, we can feel like we are at the mercy of the situation we are in, and what makes it worse is how detached we are from each other right now. If you are feeling overwhelmed or emotionally drained, and like we may never get out of this thing, let’s talk about ways you can beat the burnout.
Mental exhaustion and physical fatigue go hand in hand. Some people may find themselves just wanting to sleep, or perhaps even just feeling lethargic and unmotivated to get up and move. You may get headaches or body aches, have sleep issues, and either not want to eat or want to eat more to self soothe. All of which is detrimental to your immune system, which is the opposite of what we all need right now.
Emotionally, it can manifest as depression, anxiety, anger, distractibility, and pessimism. You might even be feeling apathetic or hopeless. If any of this sounds familiar, all this stress we have been living with for the last couple of months may be taking its toll. When you are stressed, your body releases stress hormones called cortisol. And when your cortisol levels are high, it takes away from your body’s focus on normal processes such as getting restorative sleep, digesting your food, and your natural immune response.
All of these things mean it’s time to take care of yourself and learn how to beat the burnout. Now, at the moment we can’t exactly remove the cause of the stress, although hopefully, it will ease up over time. But here are some ways that you CAN fight off that mental exhaustion right from your own home. First, make sure you are recharging your batteries. Take frequent breaks in between periods of focus, and make sure to be intentional about it. Don’t just take a break to watch Netflix instead of scrolling. Go outside for a walk, create a movie experience right in your own living room, or set up a video chat with a friend for a visit. Make it an event, and do something to treat yourself daily.
Next, get mindful. Spend time each day focusing on your breathing, doing some yoga by following one of the great apps or online videos out there or follow a guided meditation. I love starting my client sessions and meditation recordings with a progressive relaxation technique that helps you to be mindful of each part of your body, relaxing from top to bottom. You will be amazed at where you are carrying stress that you never even thought of before! Speaking of relaxation, getting a good night’s sleep is key to beating burnout. Build a solid night-time routine where you wind down for the night an hour before bed and write in a gratitude journal so you can focus on the positives in your life. It’s also important to get up and move throughout the day, and not to spend too much time lying around during the day. Exercising will not only reduce your stress, but it will also tire you out so that you get a better night’s sleep. Think about how well your child or your dog sleeps after playing hard all day. It will work for you too!
And finally, if you just can’t seem to get yourself out of a funk, reach out for help. You may or may not have a strong support system. If you do, great! But either way, sometimes we all need someone outside of ourselves and our situation to help give us perspective and help us see new ways to reduce stress and cope with our situations in life. This pandemic is definitely an unexpected, extended stressor for all of us that is on top of whatever we were dealing with in life before it started. Beating burnout and fatigue from all the stress you are under is absolutely possible and within your reach. Reach out of you need to, so you can get your energy and life back on track for when this is all over.
If you’d like to explore further what having the support of a mental wellness coach looks like, let’s talk.