The coronavirus pandemic on top of a presidential election and the regular stresses of work are leaving thousands of Americans feeling burned out. There are warning signs you might be experiencing burnout, such as a lack of motivation to do things you love or increased irritability. But burnout doesn’t have to be catastrophic. By making a plan for self-care, taking care of your body’s physical needs, and being mindful of yourself and your boundaries, you can recover from burnout and keep it from happening again.
11:02 “There are some long hours; however, you still need to take breaks.”
11:53 “Burnout is something you don’t want to flirt with. It can kill you.”
13:05 “This is the case for a lot of people–they don’t realize when they’re burned out.”
19:31 “One of the key things with burnout is you feel that stress is coming at you from every angle.”
21:40 “You have to take care of yourself first.”
30:39 “You have to love yourself.”
How to Survive Burnout from Work
Do you feel like you are working more now than you ever have before? If so, you’re in good company. Americans are working an average of three hours more per day now than they did before the pandemic!
With this added stress from work, the ongoing pandemic, and the upcoming presidential election, burnout is looming large for many people.
Who is Michael Levitt? [8:33]
Michael Levitt, the founder of Breakfast Leadership Network and the author of 369 Days: How to Survive Burnout, discussed his burnout journey, the signs to recognize burnout, and how to make real change in your life.
Michael Levitt experienced burnout firsthand. Working as a medical executive for a startup kept him working 17 hour days, seven days a week, for two years. The results, as you might imagine, were catastrophic.
In just one year, a burnout-induced heart attack cost him his job, his car, and his home. In fact, he almost lost his life. His cardiologist told him he was lucky to be alive. Levitt seized this new chance to take control of his work and his life and is now sharing the knowledge he gained with workers around the world.
Burnout symptoms [13:05]
Levitt highlights a few key burnout indicators. If you recognize these common burnout signs, keep reading to see what simple steps you can take today to help prevent burnout.
- Over time, you are not sleeping well. This could mean you are not getting enough sleep, or your sleep isn’t restful.
- You are more irritable than usual. This can be directed at coworkers, family, or friends.
- You are experiencing a lack of motivation, both in work and in hobbies. You are no longer motivated to do the things you love.
- You keep making careless mistakes or are experiencing increased forgetfulness.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. A recent Gallup survey cited by Monster shows that nearly seven in ten Americans are suffering from burnout. Especially with the added stresses of the pandemic and the upcoming election, stress is coming at us from every angle.
Preventing burnout [21:40]
The core idea behind preventing burnout is self-care, but you must move beyond just yoga and meditation. Even though those are effective and helpful practices, there is a lot of work to be done to make self care routine and prevent debilitating burnout.
The first step is to schedule your self-care and make it a priority. Levitt recommends making a color-coded calendar, where your time for self-care is indicated by your favorite color. Then, stick to this schedule like it’s the most important thing in your life. In many ways, it really is.
Make sure you are getting the right amount of quality sleep. You will need to find the amount of sleep and the room temperature that work best for you. You should also restrict screen time at night. The right amount of sleep gives the body an opportunity to repair itself, an essential part of preventing burnout.
Finally, make time to be active and commit to eating better. Keep a food journal or enlist the help of a nutritionist to identify foods that make you feel good, and foods that make you feel bad. Couple this with a regular exercise routine and regular self check-ins to keep your body healthy and your mind happy.
Making changes [28:30]
Making changes to prevent burnout is a way of showing love to yourself. This will also require plenty of self-forgiveness and patience, but it will all be worth it. And the best part is you can implement all of these changes immediately and begin seeing results right away.
Start small by scheduling your time for self-care. Be realistic about your daily commitments, but don’t skimp on setting time aside for yourself to do things you love.
Then begin creating boundaries around the parts of your life that bring negativity, such as the news, work, or social media. Don’t let these sources of stress consume you. It’s okay to engage with them mindfully, but moderation will help you control your stress levels and your burnout.
Then begins the hard work of figuring out why you got burned out in the first place. What got you here? Practice loving yourself by having regular, non-judgmental check-ins to identify sources of stress. Keep a journal to log your stressors. Then you can begin to make larger lifestyle changes to prevent you from going through burnout again.
Connect with burnout prevention resources
Levitt runs the Breakfast Leadership Network which offers tools and resources, including classes and a podcast, to help you regain control of your work life and keep burnout at bay.