It used to be so easy.
You threw yourself into your work with laser focus and unimpeachable direction. You loved your job and everything it entailed, and your passion was obvious to everybody around you. Lately, though?
Something’s changed – and not for the better.
You’re having trouble staying focused. You find yourself getting distracted for hours at a time, your mind wandering to everything except what it should be focused on. Try as you might, you can’t motivate yourself to accomplish anything.
That’s started to get to you. You’re more irritable than you’ve ever been, and you’re constantly stressed, even though you aren’t quite certain about what. You’re exhausted no matter how much sleep you get.
You’re suffering from something called burnout.
“Burnout,” explains health & wellness publication Healthguide, “is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.”
“Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful,” it continues. “Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.”
It might seem a bit counterintuitive, but the first step to recovering from – and staving off – burnout is to be lazy. Actively lazy. Take a vacation. Maybe it lasts for a day, maybe it lasts for a week.
During that time, turn off your brain. Do things that require minimal thought and effort. Seek out activities that leave you feeling relaxed and energized. In short, take some time to just be, without worrying too much about how much you’re getting done.
“Burnout happens as a result of too much,” explains executive coach Dushka Zapata. “Too much work, too much intensity, too much stress. You do so much without recharging or resting that you become consumed…You have to take time to recover.”
That recovery can take many forms, of course. And every person will have a different approach to recovery. But ultimately, the first step lies in learning to relax. In setting boundaries that allow for a healthy work-life balance and learning how to occasionally be lazy without feeling guilty about it.
Beyond that, let’s wrap up with a few other steps you can take for a healthier, happier approach to work.
- Focus on your health. Get as much sleep as you need in a night, and make a point of eating healthy and exercising.
- Spend time on fulfilling, personal creative pursuits.
- Take regular breaks from your office and all the technology it contains.
- Set aside at least one day a week to be lazy.