Maybe your Instagram feed tells a story. A story of laidback brunches or whirlwind weekend adventures or the beautiful sunset that you saw on your commute home. But what if the real story of your life is that you’re constantly tired. You’re comfort eating. You’re staying in bed for just a few minutes more each day because you no longer have the motivation to hit the ground running at work. If any or all of this sounds familiar, you might be on the verge or in the midst of suffering from burnout.
This might come as a surprise, but it probably shouldn’t. After all, research has found we’re more stressed than ever before – and it’s starting to show. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Ahead, you’ll find five tips that can help you prevent burnout and promote balance.
Be mindful of your social media usage.
Since social media is relatively new, conclusive findings on social media’s impact on our mental health are limited. But research has found that social media can contribute to stress and lower moods. But research has also found that social media can be a force for good. If you find yourself suffering from lower moods, FOMO or depressive feelings after browsing your social media feeds, it is worth considering how to be more mindful of your usage. You could consider deleting your accounts, cutting back on your usage, or only using the accounts that leave you with positive feelings. The results may surprise you.
Improve your sleep hygiene.
On 6 April 2007, HuffPost founder Arianna Huffington “collapsed from sleep deprivation and exhaustion.” The fall broke her cheekbone. But Huffington has since said, often, that it was the best thing to happen to her because it underscored the importance of sleep. So, just how important is sleep? Very. A study undertaken by the University of Surrey in 2012 found getting fewer than six hours of sleep a night for just a single week resulted in changes to more than 700 genes. That’s a big deal. According to HealthDirect, improving your sleep hygiene starts with a few simple steps: going to bed and waking up at the same time every day; avoiding food and stimulants (such as caffeine and alcohol) for at least four hours before bedtime; shutting off electronic devices (such as your smartphone) one hour before bed; and making sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and comfortable.
Let go of perfectionism.
If you’re a perfectionist, we have good news and bad news. According to research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in 2015, perfectionists are known for setting high personal standards and pro-actively working towards those goals. But on the flip side, perfectionists may find themselves worrying about making mistakes and letting others down, and this can lead to stress, burnout and other health problems. The study’s lead researcher Dr Andrew P. Hill recommends “setting realistic goals [and] accepting failure as a learning opportunity” if you find yourself struggling with the dark side of perfectionism.
Make time for friends.
It probably comes as no surprise to learn that strong social relationships have a positive impact on both your mental and physical health. Unfortunately, when we’re tired, strung out and busy, quality time with friends and family is often the first thing we sacrifice. Well, consider yourself schooled. According to research compiled and studied by Debra Umberson and Jennifer Karas Montez at the University of Texas in 2009, social support can reduce the impact of stress and help foster a sense of purpose in your life. Book yourself a brunch with your BFFs, stat.
Nurture your creative side.
Sam Clarke, PhD, a clinical psychologist, warns one of the most common signs of burnout is a lack of motivation. You might feel disconnected from the work you used to love. You might even forget the reason why you started out in your career. To combat this symptom, Clarke recommends making time for your hobbies and passions and nurturing your creative side. “Block out some time in [your] week for these aspects of your life,” says Clarke, “[Hobbies] can be hugely restorative and help us come back to work fresh.”
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