You’ve made it! You finally reached the end of that long, dark tunnel and you can finally say goodbye to that demon called burnout that controlled you for so long. Whether it took you weeks, months, or years, it doesn’t matter, you healed from burnout, and that is a huge accomplishment! Congratulations! So, why do I ask, now what? Is self care for burnout ever done?
The work is not done. You followed all recommendations from online research, a therapist, and hopefully also from my blog, and now you have reached your goal, your burnout is over, but that doesn’t mean that you can throw yourself into stress again like you used to do.
Make Self Care a Part of Your Day
If there is one thing we all learn from burnout it is that we must look after ourselves. Our brain is an organ that is often neglected, and we must learn to care for it too. So, once we are feeling better, the work on ourselves continues. Taking care of ourselves is an ongoing process. It doesn’t stop. Living in the demanding world we live in today, we have no choice. Self care is number 1.
If meditation is one of the methods that helped you get better, I recommend that you incorporate meditation into your daily routine. If that is not possible, make it an every-two-days or weekly habit. If you took yoga classes to find peace of mind, then don’t drop them because you have found it. Rather, continue your yoga classes. You will be doing your body and mind a great favor.
Stress is ever present in our daily lives, and if it has affected you once, it can do so again, unless you don’t allow it anymore. Meditation, yoga, the five breaths technique, taking walks to refresh your mind, listening to relaxing music, and anything else that calms you should remain part of your daily habits.
Deal With the Causes of Your Burnout
When you go back to the job that caused your burnout or the situation that drove you to break down, you need to do this with a different state of mind. Yes, the workplace needs you, but while you were on sick leave they did just fine without you, so there will be no need to test your limits again with overtime and impossible deadlines. You are not indispensable. Relax, take on projects, but keep in mind that you cannot return to burnout. Take care of yourself. Put a limit to what you can do.
Any good manager should know what workload is acceptable or not. If work demands too much of you and makes you feel drained at the end of each day, burnout may just be waiting for you around the corner … I think, in that case, it is best to find another job.
Change is Good
True, change can be daunting. If you have worked somewhere for years or decades, it can be frightening to suddenly look for work elsewhere, but changes are always for the better. As intimidating as they can seem, once you’ve done it, you can only look back with a smile and think, “see, that wasn’t so hard. I should have done this ages ago.”
Compare it to someone who just survived a heart attack. Now that he or she receives a second chance at life, it is unlikely that they are going to indulge in high cholesterol meats and other unhealthy foods. It happened once. Couldn’t it happen again? Many heart attack survivors change to a healthier diet, either of their own volition or on recommendation by their doctor.
So, why then would you expose yourself to the factors that caused your burnout after you have just healed from burnout? That doesn’t make sense, does it? This is why self care is an ongoing process. It never stops. True, we can sometimes slip, no hard feelings – I am guilty of it myself 😉 – however, the most important thing is to always remember that you cannot return to the stage of burnout. If you have been there, you know you don’t want to go back to it.
So, keep on taking those steps to stay healthy and stay at a distance from whatever caused your burnout: be it your job, an abusive co-worker, abuse at home, ongoing difficulties with a company, and so on. Many factors can be the cause for burnout, not just work. Just make sure that those factors do not get close to you, and if they do, then hopefully only very rarely.
If an abusive co-worker contributed to your burnout, you must talk to management and explain the situation. If the abuse happened at home, it is best to leave. No one – and certainly not family or spouses – has the right to hurt you, and if they do you have every right to walk away from it. If someone makes you feel guilty about it, don’t listen. Pay attention to how it makes you feel. If you feel better or safer or calmer because you walked away from whatever caused your pain or burnout, then you did the right thing.
Do What Works for You
The day I healed from burnout was one of the best days in my life. I went through it for several years, and finding the end of that tunnel was such a relief, such a euphoric moment. I remember telling my friends, “I have healed!” “I have healed!” I was simply over the moon. I just knew that it was behind me now.
After you have healed, you stay on that path of wellness and self care and let no one beat you off it. I have done so for the past two years and so far I have been successful. When I experience some taxing moments, I take in a deep breath while counting to 5, and then I breathe out, also counting five seconds. I repeat this five times. This breathing technique makes all the difference. I feel calm at once.
Whatever works for you, do it and keep at it. We can easily incorporate certain practices into our daily routines. They will only benefit us. Ultimately, what helps you will also benefit your friends and family. It isn’t easy to deal with someone who has burnout, which is a reason why many of us go through it alone. As hard as it is for us, it is also challenging for the ones close to us. Therefore, if we look after ourselves we are not only doing ourselves a favor but also to our relationships with others.