“That’s the thing: You don’t understand burnout unless you’ve been burned out. And it’s something you can’t even explain. It’s just doing something you have absolutely no passion for.” ~Elena Delle Donne
Ever just feel like you’re sort of…well…burned out? You’re not alone. We’ve all felt it, the soul-crushing exhaustion that isn’t so much physical as mental. Where you can’t do one more thing at work, even though you love your job, and even whatever reward system you have in place isn’t enough to get you moving again.
That is burnout, and it hits all of us at some time or another. If we’re being honest, burnout has become sort of a cultural norm – and it’s one that is making us collectively sick.
“In a culture fueled by burnout, a culture that has run itself down, our national resilience becomes compromised,” writes Ariana Huffington. “And when our collective immune system is weakened, we become more susceptible to viruses that are part of every culture because they’re part of human nature – fear-mongering, scapegoating, conspiracy theories, and demagoguery.”
How can you avoid this dreaded quicksand trying to suck you down and keep you from being productive? It’s all in staying motivated and keeping your head in the game. Thankfully there are several ways to do just that.
5 Powerfully Simple Ways to Stay Motivated without Burning Out
1. Take breaks during the day. You can’t keep going endlessly without breaking down. Every now and again, it’s good to lift your head and take a look at the world around you. So get up, grab a drink of water, move around a little. How do you know when to stop? Pause the moment you feel your energy flagging, and before you get so drawn into the doldrums that you lose your motivation to move around.
2. Get rid of your devices. There’s nothing quite so de-motivational as the digital age. The problem with being connected is that people can reach you anywhere, anytime. That means you never quite leave the office, and by extension, you’re never really not working. To solve this, limit checking your work email outside of work, and refuse to discuss business outside of normal business hours. This break is necessary for optimal health of both body and mind.
3. Take weekends off. Again, with the world so connected over the internet, it’s just too easy to keep working, even when you’re supposed to be out spending time with the family. Embrace your downtime and give your work a rest. Having the weekend off will leave you more motivated on Monday and ready to tackle another week of work.
4. Ask yourself why it matters. If you’re feeling a little burned out, it’s time to remind yourself why you do the things you do anyway. Why were you so passionate about this job/project? Recapture this feeling, and your motivation will come flooding back.
5. Just what kinds of breaks do you have? If all you do on your downtime is watch Netflix, chances are you aren’t stimulating your mind. That leads to a further boredom/malaise that’s even harder to shake. When you have the weekend off, give yourself something to do that engages you physically and mentally. Exercise, play a sport, go outside, visit a museum. Stimulate the senses. You’ll be surprised at the motivation that comes from trying something new.
6. Check your health. If the feelings of fatigue persist, a check-up might be in order. It could be that it isn’t burnout at all – but instead, you might be fighting a bug or be a little low on some essential vitamin.
7. Find a different job. If you’re constantly burned out, then it’s possibly time to find something new to do. Take some time to reassess why you do what you do, and whether you’re as passionate about it as you used to be.
Avoiding burnout is possible, but it means listening to your body and mind. Breaks are not only a good idea; they’re integral to good health. Remember, staying motivated means taking care of yourself on every level.