Are you feeling run down? Tired all the time? Maybe even burned out?
Well, you’re not alone.
We often talk about being burned out in relation to everyday life, resulting from the overwhelming combination of work, lifestyle, and socialization. The World Health Organisation (WHO) now recognizes burnout syndrome as an occupational phenomenon “resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”
According to the Black Dog Institute, it can be more than your job getting you down. Self-criticism and perfectionism can be causes of burnout, too. As clinical psychologist Cassandra Dunn says, external pressures can exacerbate these internal qualities.
“Burnout is often the result of being chronically overworked and under-resourced with limited available support and that can contribute to the negative self-evaluation,” she says.
People describe burnout as feeling “exhausted and disconnected” and it can affect every aspect of our lives, from work productivity to sleeping and eating patterns. It can even lead to more serious conditions such as depression. While the WHO doesn’t yet recognize burnout as a medical condition or illness, being burned out does describe how we can sometimes feel while trying to cope with the pressures of our day-to-day.
It’s important to have strategies for managing stress and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a list of self-care activities that may be helpful.
In a basic sense, mindfulness is living in the present. It is focusing on the here and now, the experience of your body and the thoughts whirling through your head. It can also be a process of challenging negative thought patterns. Mindfulness exercises are a combination of physical actions – deep breathing, sitting still, closing your eyes – and mental awareness. Try Centr expert Ally Bogard’s "sitting practice" of mindfulness and presence. This is perfect for first thing in the morning. Start your day with a few minutes just for you and take stock of where you are beginning.
Of course, if you’re already feeling stressed out and low on time, it can be hard to prioritize taking quiet time for yourself. At Centr, we believe meditation is absolutely essential. Alexis Naim, co-founder of Los Angeles’ integrative healing center La Maida Institute, pushes back against the idea that mindfulness and meditation are “ethereal, rarified and ungrounded.”
“These practices bring us more into the capacity to solve our daily problems, relate meaningfully and contribute to the world we live in,” she says.
Centr expert Fabrice Midal also approaches meditation as practical preparation for meeting challenges. It’s not about lulling yourself into perfect calm, but fostering a state of stability and mental readiness and resilience. “Let's stop trying to attain calm, and just be more alive,” he says.
The idea is that if you practice a little every day, you’ll be able to tackle issues head-on and manage stress as it arises. Because our meditations are short audio guides, you can fit them into your day whenever you find a few spare minutes.
How many times have you stayed up way later than you should have in order to get everything done? And how often do you find yourself too distracted by thoughts to get to sleep? Lack of sleep can be a major cause of stress. Despite this, it’s one of the first areas that suffers when we prioritize productivity over self-care. Making sure you get enough good-quality rest is important for both body and mind. Sleep visualizations are a useful way of winding down and quieting distracting thoughts. The calming narration leads you through guided meditation exercises.
A number of our Centr experts lend their soothing voices for our members’ sleep visualizations, including Sergio Perera and Michael Olajide Jr. It can also help to keep a sleep and mood diary. By asking yourself every day ‘how am I feeling?’ and keeping track of your body’s routine, you could identify patterns in how you respond to stress and how it affects your sleep and mood.
If you’ve seen how hard our yoga specialist Tahl Rinsky’s workouts can be, this one might come as a surprise. But the physical and mental aspects of yoga are intrinsically linked. The complementary nature of yoga as a holistic exercise is why Tahl also leads some meditation and mindfulness practices on Centr. Tahl finds the dynamic, creative style of her vinyasa yoga helps her slow down and find a different kind of mindfulness.
“I have a busy head, and I need to move and I need to do stuff all the time and it's hard for me to slow down. And when I do slow down, and a lot of that is through [the] movement of yoga. My thought process slows down, things bother me less... I'm more focused,” Tahl says.
If you find it hard to sit still for mindfulness exercises, yoga could be a great option for finding your calm and building resilience. Think of it as active mindfulness.
4. If you need help, ask.
We often wait too long before we really think about whether we're coping or what we need. Dunn notes this is especially the case if we're approaching a burnout stage.
“If you’re chronically stressed, you might not be thinking very clearly and it could be worth doing a reality check with someone you trust,” she says.
We can be so focused on surviving day-to-day stresses we don't stop to ask for help. Maybe we're too embarrassed. If it's work-related burnout, we might think, "This is my responsibility, I can't ask someone to carry this weight, too." But this is when asking someone for their outside perspective can be the most helpful. Hey, even the strongest superheroes have help from a team.
You might find one or a combination of these activities helps you de-stress and ward off the dreaded burnout. But these are not one-off solutions. However, you choose to try and care for yourself, make sure it’s a regular part of your life.
If you think you might be experiencing or at risk of experiencing psychological distress or mental health conditions, please make contact with a psychologist or a healthcare professional to seek further support.
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