Access to open spaces has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety symptoms including burnout.
If you don’t know what burnout is, it probably means you’ve never suffered from it. Imagine a persistent feeling of being overloaded and overwhelmed. A feeling of being unable to escape.
You are so busy that you can’t even begin to think about what task you need to do next. The kids are fighting in the other room while you are trying to plan for your next day at work.
Burnout is a feeling of persistent overload and overwhelming responsibility
Meanwhile your partner is giving you a hard time about not being more attentive and all you want to do is run away and live the life of a hermit. You need to take action. You need to be released from this vortex or anxiety and fatigue.
I got inspiration for this article from a Twitter conversation with Kerry Villers from the Noah and the Girls and her post about this very subject. It got me thinking about my own experiences with burnout.
When I lived in overseas in a challenging environment, burnout was rife. The pressures of schooling, working and generally living in a different culture drains even the strongest individual.
I saw strong men and women melt into a haze of mental and physical health problems.
But I got the burnout bug right here in the UK.
De-clutter Your Social Life
One of the major factors in my own burnout was that I was doing too much. Too many extra-curricular activities as well as trying to hold down a demanding job, a long commute and a medium intensity fitness regime. I became anxious and even panicky at times and this spilled into my interactions with other people.
That’s when burnout becomes a real problem: when it affects your relationships with others, especially your kids.
People who are used to using you don’t like it when you quit
So I quit. I didn’t do it as a knee-jerk reaction but as a measured response. I resigned a number of voluntary positions, I ended freelance and weekend work and focused on going to my day job, staying healthy and being a family man.
People didn’t like it. When people are used to you being around so that they can load responsibility and work on you they like it. When you say ‘I’ve had enough and you’ll have to find someone else.’ things can get ugly.
If people close to you can’t deal with the fact that you need a break, do they really have your best interests at heart?
Try saying ‘No’ to everything for three months. That’s a ‘No’ to the opening at you’re son’s football club coaching team. ‘No’ to joining the PTA/Residents’ Association/Sailing Club.
I used to take on extra responsibilities thinking ‘It’s only one day a month’. But if you do that for four different things, you’re doing extras every week.
De-clutter Your Relationships
Having to deal with negative and draining people is challenging at the best of times. But doing it when you’re feeling overwhelmed is near suicidal. Don’t stand for people who want to take, take, take from you all the time. If you’re not strong enough to meet their needs, give them a wide berth.
The same goes with Social Media – why spend hours scrolling through pages of your ex-school friends who have made a complete mess of their lives. Do some hard-core ‘Unfriending’. You’ll feel better – I guarantee it.
A good book, breakfast and a coffee is a relaxing way to start any day.
Stay away from negative talk and gossip in the office. Did you ever leave a gossip session feeling better about yourself or your job? Get out at lunch time – go for a walk, sit in the park or pop down to the driving range.
De-clutter Your Home
This should seem obvious right? If your house or flat or apartment is in a mess, how can you hope to have an ordered life? So have a clear out.
One thing that struck me recently is this: It’s amazing how much stuff you don’t need. Think of all the junk in your house – CDs you don’t listen to, DVDs you never watch, books you read, clothes that don’t fit. Now imagine your house with all that stuff gone. Better isn’t it?
What’s more you can often get money for these things. In my city of Glasgow, Scotland you can sell old clothes, old books to different merchants, you could have a garage sale or sell your stuff on a website like Gumtree.
Every year, I clear all the junk out of the garage. I sell what can be sold and recycle or bin everything else.
De-clutter Your Inbox
This takes real discipline and determination but it’s time to claim back your inbox. Like most people’s it’s probably stuffed full of newletters, special offer emails and other sales junk. In fact, when was the last time you got an email from an actual person?
Go ‘unsubscribe’ crazy – even if that means unsubscribing from the This Dad Does newsletter. If that’s what you have to do to beat burnout, then you have my full support.
Junk and spam email is a bit like a Gremlin – its really hard to kill (using a blender isn’t advised). You’ll probably have to go back and have an unsubscribe-blitz every few months. But having a near empty inbox is worth it.
Don’t Suffer Alone
This is the key one for me – burnout is common and nothing to be ashamed of. If you’re suffering or think you’re close to it, tell someone. Someone older and wiser in your Dad Network is a good place to start. If you have a partner, you should also tell her.
My life is still busy but I don’t feel burned out. I know the signs and I know what to do if it happens again. Next time burnout comes knocking, I’ll be ready.
Have you got any experience of dealing with burnout? Why not share it in the comments box below, or send me an email.