fight burnout

5 Ways to Fight Burnout

Lou Holtz said, “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” We can carry a lot more than we think. Our level of stress and feeling overwhelmed is often because we’re trying to work too much. If the number of tasks on our schedules doesn’t paralyze us, we pile on more things.

Overworking has a cost. We work longer hours, but instead of being more productive, we become exhausted and discouraged. If we don’t watch, our busyness hurts rather than helps. Here are 5 ways to fight burnout: F-I-G-H-T.

F—Find rest.

Rest doesn’t happen by accident. You must plan for it. Sometimes, you just need a nap. Other times, you need a good night’s sleep. You must create habits of rest in your life. It’s important for focus and productivity. Daily, I find rest by going to bed at a decent hour. Weekly, I make time for things that rejuvenate me, like hobbies and exercise. Like most things, we work well if we unplug for a time.

I—Initiate inspiration.

I use the term “initiate” because in my experience, inspiration doesn’t come looking for you; you must find it—and keep looking for it. Be a student. Studying something of interest through reading, listening to interviews, or watching videos on a given topic keeps me inspired in my work.

G—Get disciplined.

When life seems to be coming at me and I start reacting rather than acting, it helps me to pause and look at every single detail. Get disciplined in your meetings, daily conversations, and how you handle answering emails. Getting disciplined, which is one of the best ways to fight burnout, often means prioritizing and cutting unnecessary things. I try to live by the idea of “edit to amplify.” Often, we need to say no to good ideas so we can say yes to what’s most important. Feeling overwhelmed usually comes because we are lacking control. You regain control of your life one task at a time by focusing on the next priority.

H—Have focus.

Call it “being present in the moment” or simply focusing. Learn to focus on work when you are at work and focus on your family when you’re at home. If I see anything wrong with the work-from-home movement, it’s that we’ve lost the balance and our work has shifted too far into family time.

T—Take a sabbatical.

If you’re able to get away for a longer period, I suggest making it a long-term goal to take a sabbatical. Now, before you stop reading because you can’t take off for months, getting away to refresh, think, and rejuvenate can be helpful and life-changing for two weeks or a month. Don’t rule a sabbatical out.

I spent my life being unsure how people took a sabbatical. Then, last year, I took one month to rest and rejuvenate, and my only regret is not doing it sooner. If you don’t have weeks to take off, consider taking one day off per quarter in solitude. Ovid, the Roman poet, said we are to “take rest. A field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” Like the seasons a field goes through, make sure one of your seasons is rest.

Sound off: What are some of your favorite ways to fight burnout? 

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How do you handle doing homework or chores when you’re tired?”