An offering of methods and ideas to avoid burnout and navigate its symptoms while being in the thick of it
During my first 3 years of grad school I pushed myself to my limits and beyond. I slept very little and worked constantly and the result was that I gained a lot of weight, developed acute adrenal fatigue, eczema, weakened immune system, and depression. During my 4th year I felt like I was falling apart. I was exhausted, in pain, and barely functioning. I then realized that being stressed out just isn't sustainable and it's really damaging to my body.
Now in my 5th year I've been working diligently to learn new ways of minimizing stress, coping with the stress I have, and healing myself. Things aren't perfect but I am heaps better than I was this time last year.
I've said this so many times, "I need rest and I need a break but I can't stop!" So what does one do in the meantime? I am not perfect and don't do all of these all the time but when I get into rut I've had success when I do at least one or two of these consistently.
1. Change of mindset:
Committing to not letting myself get maxed out first above all things.
"Done is more valuable than perfect." Instead of stressing out about doing things perfectly remember that perfection in reality is unattainable but you can strive for doing your best.
"Your best is contextual." My high school English teacher told me this 10 years ago and it still helps me. Tomorrow your capacity for best may be even more expansive than it is today.
"I have enough time, resources, ability, etc etc to complete what needs to be done." Maybe you wont get to do everything you want or think should get done but when you prioritize what must be finished each day things will get done.
2. Do a round of 10 - 20 deep breaths:
Depending on the season and your sensory preferences, covering your face hot towel or cold cloth saturated with 10 drops of lavender essential oil while you breath deeply for 5 minutes does wonders.
3. Prioritize rest
budget how many all nighters you're allowed per semester or month and stick to it.
I can no longer do all nighters so what I do now, sparingly, is going to sleep at 8 or 9pm and then waking up at 3:30 or 4am to finish grading papers or meet a deadline.
Give yourself a break. Set your timer for a ten minute break and go for a walk, have a snack, or zone out.
4. Support your physical, spiritual, and psychological body
Reducing the amount of refined white sugar consumed by using chrysanthemum flowers in teas and using maple syrup or honey when cooking.
Eat a balanced meal with protein, starch, and vegetables/fruits.
Drink lots of water.
Take a hot bath with sea salt, apple cider vinegar, and essential oils.
If you have a spiritual practice make time for it on daily or weekly basis.