Burnout is a syndrome caused by chronic stress at work, but with the upheaval occurring across the planet at the moment, many of us are experiencing pretty serious burnout symptoms.
Between constant (and at times disturbing) media updates, conflicting information, overwhelming statistics, and the sheer enormity of the unknown (when will it end? Who will contract COVID 19 and will they die? How will I rebuild my business when this is over?) we are being confronted with, it’s no surprise we’re starting to feel burnt out.
We are nostalgic for that time, only a few weeks ago for most, when we felt in control of our lives, with an array of choices at our fingertips.
We had the power to travel around the world – now we can’t even go to the grocery store.
We’d go for drinks after work with colleagues, book tickets for Coachella or the Killers’ tour without a second thought as to whether it’d go ahead, plan our summer vacation in detail. All these aspects of our identity, and little ways we used to feel in control, have swept away.
Of course, we are never ACTUALLY in control. We kid ourselves that we are, and our fragile human brains and egos need this sense of power in order to feel okay with and in the world. Usually, it takes the death of someone close, illness or injury, or being laid off for us to start questioning existential issues.
Right now, everyone has been confronted with their own powerlessness. And the fear and anxiety this causes so easily gives way to panic, as we have witnessed.
It’s hard. It’s unprecedented. So what can we do to take care of ourselves?
1. Stay connected with others
It feels to me like the internet is proving its worth at this time. It’s a forum for so much damage and cruelty – today, however, it’s our means of connection to friends around the globe. Reach out, make calls, FaceTime, share kind comments and uplifting, reassuring words.
2. Stay at home
It’s the simplest way we can save lives (which feels good right?) and ensure the curve flattens as much as possible. It’s so tempting to ‘just’ meet friends for coffee or visit family, because it gives us a fleeting sense of normality. It’s not worth it.
3. Create / puzzle
I’m the world’s least artistic person but writing or drawing (badly) always makes me feel in the moment, rather than worried about how things will be in a week / month / year. Grab pen and paper. Do a sudoku. Get your head out of a device and into the moment.
4. Do something to look after yourself every day
If you can, get out in fresh air. If not, stretch out on the floor for 10 minutes every day, or try a 5-minute meditation (there are stacks of apps and YouTube videos). Particularly if you are stressed about finances or job security, as I know lots of people are, it’s so important to connect with your breath and your body.
If you can help elderly or other at-risk people in your hood, or support the local medical team, do it. If you don’t have the finances to donate, find another way. Friends of mine are making videos of themselves reading out children’s books to share with friends who have kids – it’s cute as hell. I made a video of a simple breathing exercise to increase lung capacity and chill the eff out and sent it to my family. Helping others when we are stuck at home helps us feel more connected and empowered.
6. Limit media
It is SO EASY to get caught in a slew of media through the television or the internet. Turn it off. There’s also a kind of currency in sharing the latest information with each other. Don’t play this game. Give yourself tight boundaries around exposure to media and adhere to these. Flick to your favorite feelgood Insta account or watch something ridiculous and distractive like ‘Tiger King’. It’s good to be informed. It’s bad to be panicked. Take ownership of where you fall in that spectrum.
What are your go-to tips? Let me know!