5 Key Strategies To Prevent Burnout

Burnout is a term used to describe someone that is feeling tired and mentally exhausted resulting from a buildup of stress. This can come from several different areas in your life, such as school, work, and parenting.

It is a serious problem that affects many people around the world, and it’s important to take action steps to limit the buildup of stress leading to burnout.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out my article, What Is Burnout And How To Identify It At Work Before It’s Too Late, it goes into detail on the process of burning out and what signs to look out for.

If you feel like you’re on your way to burning out from your commitments, there are strategies available that can help prevent it. Here are 5 strategies that you can use to help you avoid burnout.

  1. Locate the source of the stress buildup

It’s important to find what stressors are in your life and where they are coming from. Like any problem you face in life, it’s easier to deal with the stress when you know what’s causing it. For this to work, it’s important to be as specific as possible about what the stress is and where the source of the stress can be found. Without knowing these two things, it’s difficult to address the problem.

As an example, let’s look at the two statements below:

  • “Work is stressing me out, and I don’t think I can take it much longer.”
  • “The added responsibilities on top of my regular duties at work without added support is becoming difficult to manage. Work was fine until my boss asked if I could take on a new project. It’s becoming difficult to stay motivated because I don’t see an end to the extra work I’ve received.”

The more specific and honest with yourself you can be, the more effective you’ll be at addressing the issues to prevent burnout. Once you’re able to identify the source of your stress, you can take steps to address it.

2. Identify your support system and utilize them

Your support system is anyone you can turn to that will listen when you have a problem, and they will help you in addressing the problem. Having a strong support system will give you a safe place to share the stress in your life, and if they’re close to you, they can provide guidance that would best suit you.

It’s important to note that when a person goes down the path to burnout, one of the steps that they could go through is withdrawal from social interaction. If you’re feeling this way, it’s important to seek out your support system.

If you’re not the kind of person that likes to share personal information, such as the things that are causing you stress, your support system can also provide a way to change your environment or engage in social activities. It can be just as beneficial to be doing something you enjoy with others, such as game nights or eating out.

3. Take time for yourself

Not only is it important to have a support system available, but having personal time for the things you enjoy is also important in minimizing the effects of stress leading to burnout.

When work, school, or life gets stressful, and you feel the effects of the stress for any length of time, it’s important to take a step back and dedicate some time for yourself.

The time doesn’t have to be long, but during this time, you should do something you enjoy, such as a hobby or working out.

The reason you want to take time out for yourself is that your brain releases different signals depending on what you’re doing. If you’re constantly stressing about something, then your body is constantly sending the same signals, and over time this can lead to serious health problems, which includes, but is not limited to, burning out.

When you’re doing something you enjoy, your brain releases different signals that enable you to feel happy, relaxed, and overall in a good place. So, when you get back to your commitment, you’ll be in a better position to continue working.

4. Prioritize the important things

There’s a saying:

  • “The straw that broke the camel’s back.”

This can be in reference to a small or minor issue being the final thing that causes a big reaction. As an example, let’s say one day I had a terrible experience starting from the time I woke up. I missed my alarm, sat in traffic to get to work, forgot to eat breakfast, missed a meeting, and I forgot to grab my wallet, so I couldn’t get lunch either.

As I’m sitting at my desk with all of these problems built up inside me, a coworker walks over and asks how my lunch was. Although they meant no harm in the question, it upset me so much that I walk out of the office and go home. With that last action, I miss the rest of my meetings, and I’m responsible for explaining to my boss where I was the next day.

In my example, what my coworker said was meaningful enough to me that I left my other commitments unfinished to go home. However, it shouldn’t have had such an impact that I neglected my other priorities as a response.

It’s important to prioritize the important things in your life so that you can see where your time and energy should be spent. Your priorities should include some form of the following:

  • Work/school success
  • self-care
  • friends/family

It can be in any order that you feel and as specific as necessary, but it’s important to note that a lot of things that can be stressful, you wouldn’t necessarily find on your list. These would be the straws that we want to avoid stressing over in our lives. In my example, what a coworker said, that wasn’t even rude or offensive, was not something that I should have prioritized as important.

When you’re able to prioritize what’s important in your life, you have a clear picture of where your time and energy should be spent, and you’re better able to keep the straws from becoming the reason for your burnout.

5. Find meaning in what you’re doing

I cannot stress this one enough. When you’re feeling down about your work or school, it is important to find meaning in what you’re doing, and keep it at the forefront of your mind. You had your reasons for starting whatever it is that’s causing you stress, but you have to continue to see the value in what you’re doing.

Whether it’s finishing the semester strong so you’re one step closer to graduating, or many people being dependent on successful completion of your project at work, what you’re doing has value. It’s meaningful. You may have to remind yourself every once in a while, just in case you forget.

Without having the value behind what you’re doing, you start to lose the motivation or drive to continue doing it. You may even start developing negative feelings towards it. By staying aware of the meaning behind what you’re doing, you’re better able to keep the motivation for doing it alive.

Even in the most difficult of situations, you can find something meaningful to hold onto so that you can continue forward.

Conclusion

Many people around the world have experienced or will experience burnout in their lives. It’s important to find ways to keep from going down that path for your overall well-being. In this article, we looked at 5 key strategies for helping to prevent burnout:

  1. Locate the source of the stress buildup
  2. Identify your support system and utilize them
  3. Take time for yourself
  4. Prioritize the important things
  5. Find meaning in what you’re doing

Although any one of these strategies can help as an aid against burnout, using a few or all of the strategies together can have a better effect and a higher success rate.

What things do you do to fight against burnout? Let me know!

And, as always, if you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!

I Became A Father While Still In School. Here’s What Surprised Me The Most

It is such an amazing feeling becoming a father. When your newborn holds your finger for the first time, and you’re holding them with all the love in the world, you realize that you would do anything for them.

My son was born one year into my second bachelor’s degree. My goal, at the time, was to complete the program in two years. With him added to our family, I was wondering if it could still be possible.

My wife and I took the whole summer leading up to my second year to plan how our family will function while I was still in school and we were both working. Once the semester started, we implemented our plans.

There were many ups and downs with raising a newborn during the following year, but here are the things that surprised me the most about it.

  1. Daycare is ridiculously expensive

As new parents, we could not believe how expensive a traditional daycare costed. I’m talking second mortgage or vacation every month type expensive. This was probably our biggest concern while I was finishing up school. Adding an expense like this on top of everything else we had to pay was incredibly stressful.

At one point, we considered having my parents help with babysitting, but they lived over an hour away from us. Taking two hours out of our day traveling for our son on top of driving to and from work and school wasn’t feasible for us.

Instead, we decided to research the different daycare options in our area, and select the one that fit our budget as best as possible and one that we were comfortable leaving our son with.

Tip: Daycares will fill up fast for newborn care, so it’s important to research your options and get your name on a wait list for when your child reaches the minimum age that the daycare will accept.

Our budget during the year was tight, but thanks to some solid planning over the summer, we made it through to the end.

Aside from the traditional daycares, another option to consider is in-home care. This is where people take children into their homes and care for them. In-home daycares vary, but a reputable one will be licensed in the state its in, and will have good reviews. They don’t take in as many kids, but the ages of the children can vary widely. They will typically be cheaper than a traditional daycare as well.

Tip: Research all your options before deciding on care for your child. Keep in mind these options:

  • Traditional daycare
  • In-home daycare
  • friends/family

2. I felt like a natural caring for my son

This one was weirdly surprising to me. My experiences with babies and small children were very minimal. In fact, I couldn’t remember ever holding a baby prior to holding my own son. But, whenever I held my son, my heart felt full and my life complete.

I was told a few times in my life that I’d be a good father, and although I know it’s something I’ll continue working at for the rest of my life, with my son, I feel like a natural.

3. Changing diapers and cleaning weren’t an issue

When I thought about changing diapers before my son was born, I would always cringe. I’d think about the kinds of things I’d find in a diaper, the smell, and then cleaning it up. I couldn’t help but feel a little queasy.

Once he was born, however, all those feelings went away. I don’t even remember his diapers having any sort of foul smell for the first few months.

Changing his diapers was a part of caring for him, and I’d do my very best to make sure he was receiving the best care.

4. People are much more comfortable talking to you with a baby

It’s amazing to me how many strangers strike up conversations with my wife and me when we have our son. And while I’m not at my most comfortable when people engage in small talk with me, it’s easier when my son is there being the center of attention.

Other dads are incredibly supportive, too. I remember going into a men’s restroom to change my son one time, and other guys that going in and out of the restroom offered their support and words of encouragement. It’s not something I expected with my son, but it’s a great feeling.

5. My professors were incredibly supportive when it came to my son

I almost tear up thinking about this point. While I tried my best in school and got to know my professors, I didn’t expect them to be so supportive and understanding when it came to things going on with my son.

Whenever he got sick or couldn’t go to daycare for the day, I notified my professors saying I wasn’t going to be in class that day. Often, I would get a response wishing my son well or giving me an update on what’s going on in class and what I should do to prepare for the next class.

Tip: Always communicate with your professors and be proactive whenever you find out you’re going to miss class.

My grades never suffered because I missed a class due to my son. My professors were always flexible and wanted me to succeed. I am still grateful for their support, and I hope other students in my position have the same luck with their professors as I did.

Summary

Becoming a father is an incredible feeling. I learned so much about him and myself, and I continue to do so. During the first year of his life, there were 5 things that surprised me the most:

  1. Daycare is ridiculously expensive
  2. I felt like a natural caring for my son
  3. Changing diapers and cleaning weren’t an issue
  4. People are much more comfortable talking to you with a baby
  5. My professors were incredibly supportive when it came to my son

If you enjoyed reading the article, and you feel like it’s been helpful, make sure to like, subscribe, share, and be on the lookout for more ways to feel empowered and confident in your career and education goals!