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Burning Brightly Instead of Burning Out

Burning Brightly Instead of Burning Out

Are you burning the candle at both ends? So many of us are so busy all of the time. It might seem like the demands on our time are infinite.

Maybe you put in long, long hours at work—arriving early, working through lunch, and staying late. Maybe you fill your weekends with chores—or with more work. Maybe you have kids to cart from place to place, meals to cook, laundry to do, and more. Maybe your to-do list is so long that sometimes you just can’t seem to do anything. And maybe when you do find yourself with a spare moment, you feel guilty that you are not doing something productive. 

If any—or all—of that sounds familiar, there is a good chance you are experiencing symptoms of burnout. And that can be bad for your overall mental well-being. 

Still, you probably feel a lot of pressure to keep working…and working…and working. So how do you find space to rest and relax and restore your sense of steady progress rather than the feeling of frenzy that can come with burnout?

We have some suggestions.

Build in the Breaks

If you are the kind of a person who just keeps pushing and pushing throughout your day, it is possible that the most powerful change you can make to battle burnout is to build intentional breaks into your day.

And when we say “intentional,” we mean more than simply promising yourself that you will take a few breaks during the day. That promise is all too easy to break. So in order to make sure you really do step away from your desk—for a quick walk, for lunch, for a few minutes spent reading a book or watching a quick video—you have to get serious about it.

That means you have to put those breaks in your day planner.

Think about it. Your daily calendar sets the parameters of your day. When your planner says you have a meeting, you make sure to go to the meeting. When your planner says you have to pick up your kid after soccer practice, you go pick up your kid. When your planner says you have to have a project done by a given date, you work hard to hit that date.

So it stands to reason that if your planner says you should take a break, you will take a break. After all, if there is a break written into your schedule, you have already established that you have that period of time available. 

And the amazing thing about taking a break? As the Harvard Business Review reported, it actually makes you more productive. That makes it a win-win: You support your mental well-being and you actually accomplish more while you are working. 

We should also note that this sort of scheduled break taking should also include taking time off. Carving out some time for yourself in the evenings and on the weekends, for example, is an important practice for keeping burnout at bay. And taking vacations—even if they are stay-cations—is important to your mental health, too. Get these longer breaks into your schedule, too.

Avoid Using Breaks for Social Media

It can be very tempting to scroll through your favorite social media site (or sites) when you take a break, but we would encourage you to choose a different activity. Social media can actually sap your energy and your creativity. Here’s the Harvard Business Review’s take on social media:

Our review shows that browsing social media is the most common break type — almost everyone (97%) report engaging in this activity. However, researchers find that scrolling through social media during work breaks can lead to emotional exhaustion. As a result, people end up with diminished creativity and work engagement instead of replenished resources. As such, this type of break may not be effective for boosting performance.

Our advice is this: Use your breaks wisely by limiting your social media scrolling.

A Reminder: This Is About Your Mental Health

It is possible that you have read this far and gotten the impression that you are ready for a blog about productivity. After all, we have quoted the Harvard Business Review and talked a lot about managing your workday effectively.

So we want to remind you that this blog is about mental health. Burnout can lead to serious mental health issues, so dealing with it in effective ways is extremely important. It is a nice benefit that taking breaks just might improve your productivity, but what is truly important for our purposes here is that fending off burnout can improve your mental health.

We Are Never Burned Out When it Comes to Helping You

At Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health—located in Johnstown, Colorado—we offer personalized mental health treatment to individuals struggling with one of the various kinds of depression, panic or anxiety disorders, issues centered in past traumas, and more. Our approach is grounded in evidence, expertise, experience, and empathy, and we are committed to helping you make and maintain improvements in your mental health.

Learn more

About programs offered at Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health

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