We live in a culture that glorifies the 24/7 hustle mentality. But you’re not a machine… you can’t run multiple systems at full force without taking a break and expect to keep functioning. Sometimes, the key to getting more done in less time is occasionally coming to a complete stop.
Recovering from burnout is much more difficult and time-consuming than putting in the effort to prevent it. Simply put, the more consistently you fit breaks into your work schedule, the better you’ll perform. Avoiding burnout is a daily commitment, so we’re going over a few essential burnout-busting tips…
Take care of yourself (starting with your basic needs)
Get enough sleep, drink enough water, exercise… We’ve all been told to practice these habits in our daily lives, but how often do we follow through? Taking care of yourself can be as simple as getting an extra hour of sleep, a bigger glass of water, or taking a 10-minute stretch break.
In fact, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, exercise fosters brain growth, stronger neuron responses to stimuli, minimizes age-related mental deterioration, and improves memory. So move your body! It only takes a small fraction of time out of your day and will benefit you immensely right away.
Get outside! Nature is powerful, especially in regard to our well-being. Cold, hot, sunny, snowy… the fresh air will do you good even if it’s not your favorite climate. A quick walk around the block, letting the sun shine on your face, or just taking a few minutes to listen to the sounds outside can help you relax for improved productivity when returning to work.
Find other relaxing or fun ways to spend your work break. There are SO many ways to make time for yourself and ease burnout-related stress throughout the work day. Here’s a few of our team’s favorite recommendations:
- Talk with a friend or coworker (about a non-work related topic)
- Blast your favorite music
- Use a guided meditation app
- Freshen up your coffee (or get a smoothie if you’re looking for a natural boost)
- Embrace your creativity! Journal, draw, dance… do whatever you love
And one of our must-do tips: Enjoy a few simple moments of silence! Shut your office door, power down that laptop, and spend some time reframing your mindset about the rest of the day ahead (and how much you’ve already accomplished that morning or week).
Here’s an example: Instead of thinking “I have to finish XYZ,” try “I get to work on XYZ.” You were chosen for your position because your skills are valued. Reframing your mindset to appreciate your ability to work can be a humbling moment in your day.
Whatever you do, just make sure to get out of your work space and away from your desk to refresh!
Have a plan & schedule strategically
Ideally, you should take three short breaks a day: mid-morning, lunch, and afternoon. Don’t shy away from them because you’re afraid of wasting time—these breaks are designed to be a much needed reset. At just 10-20 minutes, they aren’t long enough to impede on the rest of your day’s to do’s.
Failing to schedule mental and physical breaks throughout your days and week will result in getting less done. Set a timer on your phone, have alerts pop up on your computer, and know what you want to do ahead of time so you don’t waste your break trying to figure it out.
Plan your workflow strategically! Having a process in place that makes it easy to prioritize your to-do’s will give you a clear picture of where breaks fit efficiently into your day. Knowing yourself is key… Are you a morning person? Do you feel most productive after lunch?
Your work breaks should occur right before or after the most challenging parts of your day, and they should be spread out to ensure regular resets are achieved.
Structure your breaks & try unplugging
Just like work, your break relies on structure… that’s how it helps! Why is a structured break so important? Because burnout doesn’t just affect your productivity and motivation at work; It affects many other aspects of your life, including your mental and physical health, relationships, sleep schedule, and your chance at career advancement.
Once your break starts, we recommend all screens stop. No emails, no social media, no online shopping or streaming (especially if you work on your devices all day). Not only is this good for your mind and workflow, it’s good for your eyes to have a break as well! 10-15 minutes is more than enough time for you to disengage from any stress, but not enough time for you to check out of work-mode altogether.
Respect your weekends and time off. We know it’s hard to pull yourself away sometimes, but your time off is meant for resting and recharging. If you don’t, you’ll be worn out before Monday comes along and it’ll show in the quality of your work.
No matter what industry or role you’re in, not implementing these tips and taking restful breaks puts you at risk of burnout. Whether it’s silence in a dimly-lit office, a few quick sprints across the parking lot, or a fun creative activity, take some time to recognize your need for breaks and reconnect with yourself this week. Not because you aren’t capable of going full-blast all day, but because you’ll be able to pour more into your work (and your life in general) when you don’t.