This blogpost continues from the Part 1 on this series on Burn Out. Feel free to read it first.
Ways to Cope with Burnout
Having and still battling with burnout, I’ve read numerous resources and tried many different actions to cope with it.
Far from being an expert, my list of coping mechanisms has nonetheless grown to a fairly establish procedure, which I’m almost automatically applying when the first symptoms of burnout are showing up.
First of all, we need to prevent burnout from taking roots. That goes through having a clear and structured, mind and body hygiene. This means good sleep routine, physical activities, balanced eating, enriching relationships, and healthy outlooks in life. All like an idealistic and perfect life, which as you may have guessed either is not in place or will be rocked by stormy life itself.
When the situation becomes severe, antidepressants can help to find again some lucidity in one’s mind. Coming back to the image of drowning, it’s giving us an emergency kit with a small bottle of oxygen. It helps our mind to think straight again and swim again. This situation remains however only temporary.
From this situation, our next action should be find the direction of the surface. This is so, when this small of bottle of oxygen does run out (and it soon will), we can at least carry on swimming in the right direction. In practice, that means putting in place support mechanisms such as alerting close contacts, setting boundaries, organising counselling, finding the root of the burnout, and taking time to swim back to the surface and out of the storm.
All these points (sleep, re-evaluating goals and timescales, physical activities, routines with variations and freedoms, counseling) need to be extended and I’ll most likely do so in a future post.
Another Insightful Huberman Podcast
On this note, the episode of the Huberman Lab podcast of this week presents the results of studies on how our work environment may influence our cognitive performance.
As often, I start listening to this episode with a mild curiosity about what could be learned from such a mondane topic and yet again find myself with several takeaway points. An excellent rundown of all the tips shared in this episode can be found here. The main ones I took away are:
- Phases of the day
- Phase 1 (aka morning) is associated with high alertness and focused work. Works best with bright light, ideally from an wide, open window
- Phase 2 (aka afternoon) better for creative work. Reduce bright light
- Phase 3 (aka evening) should be about ramping down and preparing for optimal sleep
- Throughout the day
- Plan a ramping up period of a few minutes for the focus to properly activate
- Limit visual cues in the peripheral areas
- Alternate standing and seating positions
- Position screens at or above nose level
- Avert distractions and interruptions. Use techniques like saying ‘no’ (!) or keep body facing your work and not the uninvited person
- Specific focus tips
- Have a walk outside for 30min in preparation for abstract thinking
- Listen to binaural beats (e.g. 40 Hz with 180 Hz base) for short periods of time to boost focus
- Use a 45-minute timer for focused work followed by 5-minute break gazing far away in the open (e.g. nature)
- Keep changing position, e.g. use different seat throughout a conference
Some of these tips are well known and, in my case, already applied but it’s always good to be reminded of them, especially when there is solid research to back those (good) habits up.
What is your view on burnout? Have you or witnessed someone going through it? What are your short- and long-term tips for coping with it?
Thank you for reading. See you tomorrow.