10 Tips for Beating Burnout
There is no better time to work on your mental health than during the supposedly lazy days of summer. The weather is warm, the sun is shining, and the living is easy. Or at least that’s how it looks in the movies. Reality might be more like the humidity is high, the kids are on my nerves, and airfares are outrageous. You probably aren’t getting to lounge by the pool sipping a pina colada while quiet quitting. Most of us have to work – and work hard. Here are some tips to make sure the only burn you feel comes from the sun:
- Try a Power Hour:
Designate a “Power Hour” each week where you focus solely on tasks that bring you joy and energize you. Whether it’s doing some creative work, brainstorming new ideas, pursuing passion projects, or redecorating your office, this dedicated hour will help keep you engaged and prevent burnout.
- Schedule Mandatory Ice Cream Breaks:
Give yourself permission to step away from your desk and recharge. You can have ice cream sandwiches, frozen yogurt, or fruit bars – whatever cool treat you enjoy. If you lead a team, this is a great summer motivator. The challenge for most of us is we take too few breaks – you need them for your productivity and mental well-being. And what is life without sprinkles?
- Push for Unplugged Time:
Could you have a dedicated unplug hour where you and your colleagues disconnect from all electronic devices? Maybe it’s the first or last hour of each workday (or just an hour Monday mornings or Friday afternoons), giving everyone a break from constant notifications and interruptions. This would allow everyone to focus, think deeply, or engage in meaningful face-to-face conversations. At least consider it! Most people can’t do much deep thinking because they are suffering death from a thousand instant messages. Constant interruptions destroy productivity and skyrocket stress.
- Reassess Your Work:
If you are truly burned out (physically exhausted, not engaged, cynical, feeling unappreciated), maybe it’s time to consider a change. The change could be talking to your boss about new assignments (or fewer assignments) or it could be looking for a new job. Maybe you’ve outgrown your current position or feel your contributions aren’t recognized. If you dread going to work, take the time to figure out why. Then you can decide what action to take.
- Have a Lunchtime Adventure:
Instead of eating lunch at your desk, plan weekly lunchtime adventures with your co-workers. If you’re working from home, use this as a chance to stay connected. Explore local food trucks, have picnics in nearby parks, or embark on mini “foodie” tours in your city. If you can’t get away, order delivery from a new restaurant or organize a potluck lunch. Break up your routine and spend time with others.
- Try Mindful Walking Meetings:
Step away from the conference room and take your meetings outdoors. Who can’t use more fresh air, physical movement, and change of scenery? Discuss ideas, make decisions, and enjoy the benefits of both collaboration and nature.
- Use Your Vacation Days:
If you have vacation days available, use them! In the US, more vacation days go unused than in any other country. I know you’re too busy, but I promise you, there will ALWAYS be more work. There will not always be more life. Get out there and enjoy it will you can. To quote Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
- Start a Lunchtime Book Club:
Here’s a chance to justify those summer beach reads! Pick something escapist – I’m not talking about reading the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” This is more like “Pretty Little Liars.” Reading together allows for personal growth, bonding, and a break from work-related stress. What a great way to get to know each other and have fun! Taking the time to connect with your coworkers reduces stress and burnout.
- Be the Joy You Want to See in the World:
Spread joy and positivity by practicing random acts of kindness. Surprise co-workers with a handwritten note of appreciation or an uplifting text or IM. Leave someone’s favorite candy bar on their desk. You’ll find that giving to others is also a gift to yourself. Kindness has a ripple effect, creating a supportive and happier work environment. And really, can’t all offices use more peanut M & M’s?
- Give Yourself a Break:
I think most burnout comes from being too hard on yourself. If you think you can’t make time for any of these ideas, you’re being too hard on yourself. Would you tell your best friend, they can’t take five minutes to go outside and feel the sun on their face? That they need to eat lunch at their desk every day? That if they made a mistake, they should feel bad about it for the next decade? Treat yourself more like a friend and less like your worst enemy. Take your feet out of the fire.