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5 Essential Rules for Avoiding Burnout

We’ve all been there—stuck in a rut and feeling utterly burned out. 

Whether you’re feeling burnout in your job, in relationships, or something else, this emotional place is not the best place to be. In a lot of ways, burnout presents itself as depression. Check out five essential rules for avoiding burnout. 

1. Recognize the signs of burnout before it sets in fully 

Sometimes, burnout sneaks in like a slow-moving cloud. Unfortunately, by the time you’re smack-dab in the middle of the burn, it’s harder to wriggle your way out of the mindset. The best bet is to get to know the signs of burnout, so you can stop in and make changes before things get too bad. Specifically, stay in tune with yourself and pay attention to things like increased agitation, loss of interest, extra fatigue, and forgetfulness. You may even experience problems with sleep, changes in appetite, or increased physical illness. 

2. Learn to take care of yourself first 

When you get on a flight, one of the first things you’re told is if anything happens, get your oxygen mask first. Then, check on the people around you. At first impression, this sounds cold—it’s human nature for most of us to want to help others first. However, you can’t do your best at a job or even in relationships if you’ve sacrificed too much of your own well-being to start with. Take some "me time" just for you, whether that means taking a nap, taking a walk, or simply giving yourself a little time to breathe. 

3. Set limits on commitments 

Unfortunately, a lot of people who end up totally burned out have been on autopilot in the "yes" position for way too long. Saying yes to every potential commitment that comes your way equals imminent burnout, always. If it’s work that steals all your time, set limits, and keep your schedule in check. It is very possible that you’re going above and beyond and committing your mental space to your job even after hours. If it is other people that constantly require your attention, don’t be afraid to say no when you need to. See, tip two above for why saying no is perfectly fine. 

4. Change things up 

Burnout isn’t always about overcommitment or giving too much. Sometimes, feeling burned out is more about monotony. Think about what happens when you do the same workout routine for days on end at the gym. Eventually, the workout loses its spark and becomes more like work. The same thing happens to a lot of people when they get stuck in routines at work, in relationships, or just in life. If you feel like imminent burnout is on the horizon, try switching things up. Consider adjusting your work schedule, trying a new hobby, or just doing something new with your significant other. 

5. Talk through it 

Just about everyone on the planet has felt the singe of burnout at some point. Therefore, opening up about how you feel and getting that camaraderie from someone who understands is not a bad idea. Grab a good friend, a sympathetic co-worker, or even a therapist and talk through your frustrations when they first start. This is especially important if you’re stuck in burnout mode, and it’s starting to affect your mental health.