Better to prevent burnout than to have to cure it.

Six tips to help against burnout

1) Evaluate your life style. Are you always busy, running around, starting the next project before finishing your last one and feeling like your life is passing you by while you are left clutching at straws? Maybe you don’t feel you have time to tidy up after the project; or after getting dressed in the morning so you land up with a towering pile of discarded clothes and at this point you say, ‘I have nothing to wear!’ Modern life has become insanely busy with so many demands compared to our parents or grandparents. When you give yourself permission to finish, including packing tools away or closing the gate; even giving yourself a few minutes before you start the next thing you will feel more emotionally spacious. What do I mean by this? This is when you pace your actions so that there is room in your mind and heart to enjoy the process, or just be – without pressure. This is when you begin to appreciate the details of your life

Zambezi river

Crossing the Zambezi River. Modern life has become insanely busy. Imagine slowly making your way across this crocodile infested river. No matter where we live we all have our challenges. photo by M.F. Noffke

2) A change is as good as a holiday. You can either change your surroundings, activities or routine. These are often interlinked. Taking a break from your usual surroundings can be beneficial, for example when we traveled through Southern Africa or stayed in Yzerfontein it created different expectations for us. Think about weekend holidays, a day to yourself, a retreat, getting into nature, silent hikes, etc., you need to tailor it to your own needs.

Overlooking Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi. A change is as good as a holiday. Imagine this on your bucket list. photo by M.F. Noffke

If you don’t have time to take a whole day, weekend or week what activities could you do to give yourself time out from your usual routine that will restore your soul: mine would be playing with the animals, walking in the park, playing a musical instrument, listening to sounds, being in the garden watching the butterflies and birds, art, craft, cooking with no time pressure, arranging flowers, floating in the water, reading a book, and watching the flickering fire. Some people enjoy sport and games. What would you do?

Creation of new routines is important especially as our lives are not static and so we need to constantly evaluate them. Time for solitude often goes out the window first; we all need time away from our work and others, even extroverts. Sometimes taking solitude doesn’t feel comfortable because it feels awkward to be by yourself. If you struggle to do this try and stay with your Self for just five minutes at first. You could put a timer on so that you don’t have to worry about watching the time. This is not necessarily for meditation or mindfulness; this is a time to be with your own thoughts and feelings. Allow anything to come up; don’t try to prescribe any type of expectation. Once you have become comfortable with your company make it a little longer each time. You might find, just as with a friend that different feelings come up, stay with them and be gentle. Be compassionate and kind to your feelings. Try to meet yourself with comfort and encouragement instead of criticism.

3) Taking care of yourself. On a day to day or weekly basis commit to taking care of yourself physically and emotionally. This could mean getting enough sleep, exercise, rest between projects, consuming healthy food and liquid; as well as, emotionally being aware of incorporating fun times and laughing, becoming more flexible, living in the moment, and monitoring your self-talk: is it negative and critical or positive and encouraging? Also make time for sharing and encouraging one another.

Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi. Making time for fun and sharing together. photo by M.F. Noffke

4) Account for your use of time. Make a time sheet and become accountable. You may discover that there are things that you are doing that don’t really build into you overall aims or purposes. When you are busy with your task are you focused on it or are you answering calls and messages or surfing the web etc. Have you communicated your boundaries clearly and respectfully with colleagues and family in order to be more accountable to yourself? Does this include your own time as well as for quality time for others?

5) Make a loose plan of what needs to be done first even if it is not appealing as it is better to get that out of the way before going onto more enjoyable task.

Derek and fellow traveller.

Derek and a fellow traveller making loose plans of what needs to be done. photo by M.F. Noffke

6) Share your burdens with someone you can trust. We are not meant to carry heavy emotional loads or baggage from the past on a continual basis; it only weighs us down. Other things that become burdensome are the need for forgiving others or yourself and mentally letting go of emotional and sentimental clutter that bogs you down.

Caprivi Strip.

Caprivi Strip. Helping one another share the load. photo by M.F. Noffke

So to get the most from your life and to prevent burnout I hope you will be able to reflect on your lifestyle and feel inspired to make changes to feel refreshed again. Remember to take care of yourself and account for your time while you make plans for the important things and share your burdens with caring supportive people.


Enjoy life!

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