"I feel so burnt out."
The increasing cost of living has undoubtedly taken a huge toll on most of us. Some people are being forced to take on multiple jobs just so they can afford basic human essentials such as housing, medical care and decent food. All while dealing with a lot of uncertainty.
With so much going on, a lot of people have been feeling burnt out lately.
While burnout is different for each person, it can be broadly defined as a combination of exhaustion and low psychological energy.
It is a result of feeling swamped and overwhelmed for prolonged periods of time. In most (not all) cases it is a result of one’s work or job demands.
As burnout is one of those conditions that aren’t medically diagnosed, its treatments are not in the form of traditional medicines. Rather, lifestyle changes can help one recover from burnout.
One of the common ways to deal with burnout is practicing gratitude.
Work stress is a large contributor to burnout. All jobs have their fair share of being mentally exhausting. However, service providers in fields such as healthcare and teaching have been found to be more likely to experience burnout due to the nature of their work.
Practicing gratitude helps you gain a positive outlook on your work and social life.
Instead of looking at all the things that are wrong around you, you will be able to focus on everything to be grateful for. This increases life satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. Gratitude also helps you see how you are making the world better for other people and this can help you recover from burnout.
Practicing gratitude helps you self-regulate and stick to good lifestyle habits.
It helps you avoid negative coping mechanisms such as binge eating, excessive alcohol use, skipping positive habits, and smoking. Habits which you would normally adopt when you feel as though nothing is going well for you.
Studies have found that gratitude decreases cortisol, a stress hormone that makes us seek short-term gratification in not-so-healthy habits. Eliminating these will help us feel good both physically and psychologically, thereby escaping burnout.
Sometimes we are faced with losses that make our imposter syndrome flourish. We start doubting ourselves and wonder why we even bother. Constantly doubting ourselves because of setbacks creates the perfect environment for burnout to creep on us.
When gratitude is part of our lives, we put the setbacks into perspective. We understand that we can’t change what has happened, but remain grateful for the chance we had and the lessons we learned. This mindset allows us to bounce back and get on our feet.
Considering the massive role of anxiety in burnout, having it under control can help one with recovery. As gratitude helps you focus on positive feelings and thoughts, it helps you feel less anxious. This subsequently leads to feeling less emotionally overburdened.
Now that you know how gratitude can help you recover from burnout, here is how you can practice gratitude.
The benefits of meditation have been widely explored. Even a sprinkle of meditation can change how we perceive the world and how we live life, as it encourages us to slow down and be present. Incorporating gratitude into your meditation will also help you focus on the things that you should be grateful for.
Put your arts and crafts skills to use and make a gratitude tree. Throughout the day, you can add ‘leaves’ by writing what you’re grateful for on a sticky note and adding or tying it to the tree.
On days when you feel like there is nothing to be grateful for, you can go back and look at all the leaves that have the wonderful things you ought to be proud of.
You can do this on your own, with colleagues or with family.
When we go to meetings we make it a point to take minutes and notes, why do we find it difficult to do the same in our lives? Keeping a gratitude journal means at the beginning and end of each day, you get a chance to jot down the things you’re grateful for.
Journaling also helps you to constantly examine and reevaluate your life from a perspective of gratitude.
Sometimes keeping your gratitude to yourself is not enough. You need to be comfortable with expressing your gratitude to the people you are grateful for. Occasionally let the people who mean a lot to you know that they do.
This could be done via text or a traditional handwritten letter. Not only will this make their day a little brighter, but it also increases your levels of happiness and gratitude.
Burnout is quite common and it can be devastating.
However, it's not the end of the world and that feeling of psychological and emotional exhaustion is not indefinite.
You can adapt and implement gratitude into your daily life. Such a small adjustment will change how you perceive life and everything it throws at you. Being able to self-regulate and have a positive outlook on life in addition to all the other benefits of gratitude will help you recover from burnout.
Should you continue struggling, reach out to a mental health provider. But remember, this phase doesn’t define you!
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