In so many ways, millenials are working harder than many people like to give us credit for, which is fine because we’re not doing it for them. However, the people we are doing it for, ourselves, are in need of a different type of acknowledgement - that which comes from self. There are many different ways to care for the self, but in this piece I would specifically like to focus in on the ways that we decompress. If I know nothing else, I know that when there’s all hustle and no flow, burnout becomes our reality. So we need to curate a sort of pocket plan for ways to avoid burning out, and instead creating a balance between a healthy headspace and a healthy work ethic.
We can’t treat the symptoms without facing them in full, so first things first we have to identify what burnout looks, feels, and maybe even smells like for us. So here’s a personalized breakdown of what my own collapse is like and some tips to utilize to combat the symptoms.
Symptom: Heaviness and melancholia.
Understanding: Food has a lot to do with mood, and yes it’s cliché to say that eating healthier foods can enhance mood, but cliché’s are true so get with it!
Tip: Eat healthier (whatever that means for you). Don’t binge on foods that are high in caloric components and low in meaningful sustenance. Don’t become addicted to the rush you get after indulging in foods either because that high is fleeting, and by choosing to feed yourself food of value rather than junk you’re choosing to serve your body in a way that puts you in charge rather than your urges.
Evaluate: Does your mood control you or do you control your mood?
Symptom: Apathy about hygiene
Understanding: For me personally, the apathy that I feel when I’m burnt out is not always about the world around me but about small things that make a difference for myself. When I refer to it as hygenic, I don’t particularly mean showering/bathing - but more so some of the more intimate habits that I’ve developed. For example, skin care, when I’m feeling like I just have way too much on my plate, I may fail to take my makeup off at the end of the night and tend to it in the morning, or I may only wash my face once a day instead of twice, forcing me to deal with a breakout in less than a week’s time which inevitably leads to more stress.
Tip: Find the joy in the simplicity of taking care of the physical self. It may seem useless when you’re down, but small steps are better than none at all, and they are always the ones that matter most.
Evaluate: Do you really deserve to deny yourself?
Symptom: Tightness/discomfort in the body.
Understanding: When we’re stressed, our body compartmentalizes it in many different ways. For women, it is most common to develop tightness in the hips, while for men it is most common to acquire upper body tension.
Tip: Yoga allows the individual to dive into the divine connection between mind and body as it is a form of moving meditation. The benefits of the practice help alleviate bodily discomfort, but also work to ease the mental burden of stress through movement.
Evaluate: How much can your body take before it gives in?
Understanding: Thoughts can become supremely overwhelming when we’re experiencing burnout, sometimes so much so that we need an outlet to get some of them out. Vulnerability isn’t always comfortable and imposing more discomfort on the self in the midst of already feeling pretty low can be a bit much, so talking to others about our thoughts isn’t always appealing.
Tip: Bibliotherapy/journaling - get your thoughts out. Journaling allows you to tell your own story in whatever way serves you at the moment, and it eliminates the fear that comes with sharing your hard times with others.
Evaluate: What is the harm in exploring the benefits of being in charge of your own narrative?
Understanding: It can really suck, for lack of a better term, when you have so much going on and your lows seem to take over to the point where you feel like nobody can relate. Again, sharing with others is intimidating because we can feel unsure about whether or not your issues matter to others, so we tend to isolate ourselves and deal on our own. Loneliness, for me, is the most difficult part of feeling burnt out so I have a couple tips to share that really help me.
Tip: Podcasts are one of my favorite ways to decompress because there are so many, for so many different audiences. So whether or not you want life advice, more knowledge on a topic, comedy, suspense, etc. you can find it in podcast form, and often times simply listening to others in their element can help you realign with your own.
+ Tip: Real television and books are also some of the most amazing escapes from loneliness that you’ll ever find. Sometimes the best way to weaken the impact of our challenges is by understanding other people’s challenges. So with television series and books, you have an opportunity to experience real characters and character development, which in turn increases the connection you have to them. While these characters are fictional, the writers that created them did so based on the positives and negatives of life’s reality - making them worth connecting to.
Evaluate: Are you really as alone as you think you are?