10 tips to recover from burnout

Photo of Sarah Tuckett kneeling down before a bright wall of graffiti and plants in Paddington - Sarah Tuckett Psychotherapy and Counselling North Brisbane

Burnout is no joke. But life doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. So here’s my (slightly irreverent) guide to help you start filling up those batteries my lovely.

You don’t have to completely overhaul your lifestyle. Small baby steps is the way to go. A few small but key changes can have a whopping impact. The most important components are:

1. Sleep

Prioritise your sleep. Just one night of crappy sleep can increase your risk of anxiety by THIRTY PERCENT! Holy sh*tballs batman!

Read more about how deep sleep reduces anxiety

Aim to get the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night. Get some assistance from your GP or Pharmacy if that is what is needed. Sleep is the key, lady!

 Did you know… caffeine has a half-life of 7 hours. That means if you had a coffee at 2pm, half of it is left in your system at 9pm. (So I suppose that means a double helping of Tiramisu is out then…)

2. Rest

Your nervous system would love it if you gave your body wind down gently at night (no dance classes until 10pm!)

If you’re still frantically studying, working or exercising after 10.30pm your brain is going to shoot out some more cortisol and yup that’s going to create more inflammation. So draw a line in the sand and schedule when you are going to down tools.

It’s also really important to schedule in time to do absolutely nothing. Why not allocate a day to simply mooch on the weekend?

Did you know… that they have identified 7 different types of rest that we all need? 

READ MORE about the 7 types of rest we all need.

3. Nutrition

Nutrition is one of the most important factors in your recovery. Eating junk food on the run is the worst thing you can do for yourself.

Your body needs nutrients and fibre for both energy and creating neurotransmitters. If you filled your car’s tank with nail varnish remover you wouldn’t make it down the road. So don’t expect your body to function very well on a cocktail of chips, chocolate and Gin (however delicious they may be!)

Did you know… that somewhere between 75-85% of serotonin (your feel good hormone/neurotransmitter) is made in your gut?  And that without adequate protein, your body is unable to create the precursors to Serotonin. Gasp! (So if there was ever a time to relish that burger it’s now!)

4. Hydration

Being dehydrated increases your risk of both depression and anxiety. Just drinking a glass of water is going to improve your mood! (I still maintain that drinking a glass of prosecco has the same effect)

5. Move your body (even if it’s just a bit)

So you probably don’t have the energy for a gym session right now. But what about restorative yoga? Or a lap around the block in the sunshine? It doesn’t have to be a 10k run.

Exercise decreases the level of inflammation (and therefore depression etc) in your body.  So move it gently and nurture your body.

In my 30’s I used yoga to get me out of burnout. To this day my friend remembers me lying in savasana with tears running out of my eyes and into my ears. But I am so grateful she took me there.

If you don’t believe me how vital exercise is to your mood, watch this 10 min TED talk by Dr Wendy Suzuki…

6. Get out into green spaces

Did you know that exposure to a natural environment/green space is associated with less depression?  This means just getting out and seeing green plants (or having them in your home/office) is going to have a beneficial effect on your mood.

Did you know... Going ‘forest bathing’ is even more beneficial as the trees give off phytochemicals that improve our health and wellbeing, bless’em.

7. Sunlight

Getting early morning sunlight on the back of your eyes (and wierdly on the back of your knees!) will re-set your circadian rhythm and promote better sleep (which will increase your energy levels, decrease your anxiety and improve your mood).

Higher levels of exposure to sunlight (your eyes not your skin) is also linked to lower levels of depression and anxiety.  (Obvs make sure you slip, slop, slap in Australia!)

8. Listen to your favorite music

Music reduces anxiety by impacting your nervous system, calming your heart and releasing dopamine (your happy hormone). Yay!  READ MORE about Four ways that music calms your anxiety.  

I’m not sure Nickelback would work. It has to be music that is soothing to you. So definitely –  never Nickelback.

9. Do more pleasurable, soothing activities

Do more of the things that build you up inside and bring you a sense of joy. NOT the things you ‘ought’ to do because they are cerebral/educational/will make you a better person.

I mean the FUN things that make you whoop inside like a little kid. Things like hanging out with Keanu Reeves in a room full of puppies (yes please!), doing an art class or going wild swimming.

10. And finally… hang out with people that fill you up

Your besties, your family, your spiritual leader. Whomever they are… hang out with these awesome human beings. Your nervous system is co-regulated by being with people that you know, love and trust. This means that just by being around them you will feel better.

You know instinctively when you are around an energy vampire. You may want to avoid those peeps until you are feeling stronger!

Fill yourself up with the warm glow of being around people you love. Those who you trust, feel safe around, and who accept you exactly as you are.

Three easy ways to reduce your anxiety:

movement, breathing and your senses.

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What to do next

Want more breathing, movement and rest techniques?

Hop on over to the Resources page.