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  • Writer's pictureDulce Rivera

Self-Care for the Overworked: Practical Tips to Combat Burnout and Boost Mental Health



Introduction

In a world where the hustle never seems to stop, finding time for self-care can feel like an impossible task. As someone who has had to constantly juggle multiple obligations ranging from being a full-time student to working full-time and part-time, as well as being there for friends and family, I completely understand the difficulty to find a moment to breathe and take care of yourself.


Burnout is very real and on the rise, and can slowly eat away at your sanity and wellbeing. A study by Future Forum from 2021 found that 38% of workers reported burnout and nearly half of young workers (ages 18-29) expressed feeling drained while 46% women reported higher levels of burnout compared to men (37%) (Smith, 2023). The constant demands of work, coupled with the pressures of daily life, and excessive stress can lead you to experience burnout. However, by prioritizing genuine self-care and rest, you can prevent or recover from burnout. This blog post is my guide on realistic and practical tips that have helped me combat burnout and boost my mental health. I hope you find them useful!


Recognizing Burnout

Firstly, to understand whether burnout is affecting you, these are the primary signs and symptoms that you may be experiencing burnout: chronic fatigue, decreased motivation, feelings of cynicism or detachment, and a decline in job performance. If you're living in a perpetual state of 'I need a break,' and feeling extremely fatigued and unmotivated, then it may be time to consider that you may be burned out and begin prioritizing your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. So, let's dive into some self-care strategies that can help you prevent or recover from burnout.


Practical Self-Care Tips

  1. Establish Clear Boundaries. Overcommitting can often lead to increased stress and a diminished capacity for self-care. When you set clear boundaries between work and personal life, you begin to create a healthy work-life balance that diminishes stress and burnout. However, to set clear boundaries, you will need to reflect and learn to recognize your limits and be willing to say no when necessary. Boundary setting can look very different depending on your situation and resources. It could be as significant as quitting your job or taking a leave of absence or it could be on a smaller scale, such as avoiding checking emails or taking work calls outside of designated hours or even taking a mental health day. Creating a healthy work-life balance is essential for long-term well-being and you can begin to do that by establishing clear boundaries. 

  2. Focus on Your Health: I always like to go back to the three fundamentals: sleep, diet and exercise. Adequate sleep is a cornerstone of good mental health. Ideally, you should aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. Eating a balanced and nutritious diet will directly impact your physical and mental health. Some foods to avoid include excessive caffeine and sugar, as they can contribute to energy crashes. Remember to hydrate well, as dehydration can negatively impact both physical and mental performance! Finally, physical activity has proven benefits for both physical and mental health. Incorporate regular exercise or movement into your routine, whether it's a brisk walk, yoga, or a full workout. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which can boost your mood and reduce stress. 

  3. Be Intentional About Taking Breaks: Taking a break is not a sign of weakness— sometimes they are a necessity and they can actually help you be more productive in the long run. You can aim to schedule short breaks throughout the day to recharge. Whether it means stepping away from your computer briefly, or going for a short walk, you can focus on including activities that bring you joy during your breaks.

  4. Connect with Others: Don't underestimate the power of social connections, especially when it comes to helping us feel less stressed. Spend time with people who care about your wellbeing and nurture those positive relationships. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with friends, family and trusted others can provide you some emotional support and relief. 

  5. Go Back to Hobbies and Recreation: A great way to combat burnout and practice self-care is to do activities that you enjoy outside of work. Whether it's reading, gardening, painting, or playing a musical instrument, dedicating time to hobbies can be a great stress reliever. 

  6. Consider Professional Help: If burnout persists, please consider seeking professional help. Sometimes recovering from burnout can be much easier with the aid of a therapist or counselor who specializes in these areas. 


Conclusion

Building an intentional self-care practice is not easy, but it is fundamental for leading a fulfilling and balanced life. By incorporating these practical tips into your routine, you can take proactive steps to combat burnout and boost your mental health. Remember, investing in your well-being is not only beneficial for you but also contributes to your overall productivity and success in the long run. By making self-care a priority, you can learn not only to survive but thrive in the face of life's challenges.


Sources

Smith, M. (2023, March 14). Burnout is on the rise worldwide-and gen Z, Young Millennials and women are the most stressed. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2023/03/14/burnout-is-on-the-rise-gen-z-millennials-and-women-are-the-most-stressed.html 




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