Last month we covered five of the Top Ten Things You Can Do to Prevent Burnout:
1. Exercise Your Body to Relax Your Mind
2. Stay Fully Hydrated
3. Get Up and Move
4. Pamper Yourself
5. Let Others Care for You
How many of these are you doing now and do you notice any changes in your mood? Building on what I detailed last month, let’s explore the next five things you can do to prevent burnout:
6. Maintain Self Care: If you are responsible for the wellbeing of others, it may draw down your emotional, physical and spiritual resources. The energy diverted to customers, spouses, employees, clients, children, stakeholders, bosses and patients may leave us more susceptible to illness and injuries. In order to help others, it is critical to help ourselves stay in peak condition by:
• Develop and use an effective schedule with a calendar or journaling system
• Enjoy relationships with those who love you the most
• Nurture the relationships you have with friends
• Engage in fun with your pets
• Maintain your own doctor and dentist appointments
• Don’t sacrifice your hair, nails and other self-maintenance appointments
• Maintain your car in good repair
• Stay connected to your school, church, temple and club relationships and affiliations
There is a reason that air stewards remind you to don your oxygen mask first. Taking good care of yourself is key to being able to help others.
7. Practice Mindful and Healthy Eating: To paraphrase Hippocrates, “…Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine thy food.” The healing power of antioxidants contained in most fruits and vegetables offers protections from the metabolic byproducts of stress, so make every effort to eat at least a combined five serving a day. Fruits and veggies are also high in low-calorie healthy fiber. Avoid foods that are highly processed, many of which contain multi-syllable ingredients your grandmother wouldn’t recognize.
When you sit down to eat, SIT down and appreciate the effort it took to produce, cook, transport and prepare your food. Eat mindfully and slowly, allowing your brain to catch up with your stomach.
8. Play Hard and Have Some Fun: Everything that brings you pleasure in life you will enjoy more with the upgraded body you are working on through exercise and improved nutrition. Play more golf, join an over-fifty basketball league, walk your dog twice a day, take tennis lessons, landscape like you are at the Garden of Versailles.
To use play as a learning experience for your emotions, you can push the limits of you comfort zone by engaging in something daring and adventurous…yet relatively safe. Did you ever want to try flying lessons, learning Cantonese, rock climbing, gourmet cooking, whitewater rafting or writing a book? If you learn to embrace the scary by recognizing that fear is a normal reaction, then stepping out on the ledge in other areas of your life will be less daunting, and the adrenaline will wash over you like waves breaking on the beach.
9. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene: The benefits of a good night’s sleep cannot be overstated. Sleep rests, recharges and restores your mind and body. Here are my Top Ten Tips to Get a Good Night’s Sleep:
• Get an adequate amount. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours a night. Time shift your favorite programs with a DVR to get to bed earlier.
• Keep constant hours. Aim for a bedtime and wake-up time within a half-hour window, even on the weekends. Our bodies like habits.
• Darken the room. Street lamps, lights in other rooms and moonlight often prevent people from falling asleep. Use opaque shutters or room-darkening shades or curtains.
• Turn off cell phones, chargers, modems and digital TV displays, etc. The small amount of light emitted by LEDs, especially in the red and blue part of the color spectrum can penetrate your eyelids and disrupt your deep sleep. If electronic devices can’t be turned off, block their light with books or other solid objects.
• Lower the temperature. Cooler temps signal your body it’s time to slow the metabolic rate and begin hibernating for the night. Automatic setback thermostats are an ideal way to reduce your utility bills as well as get a better night’s sleep.
• Eliminate caffeine and sugar from your diet three or four hours before bedtime. You want your body to wind down, not speed up before you hit the hay.
• Don’t watch or read anything disturbing or overly stimulating an hour or so before bedtime. Here is another good reason to use your DVR. Bedtime is time to rest your mind and spirit, not stimulate them by watching disturbing news or your team’s winning touchdown drive in overtime.
• Prep for bedtime with the same routine. Your body will recognize the habit over time and begin the process of slowing down in anticipating sleep. Bonus Tip: If you do your oral hygiene immediately after dinner, you will reduce the calories you consume during the day. (Who wants to brush, floss and rinse with mouthwash again?)
• Read, meditate, pray, relax or stretch before you turn in at night. This will also become a habit your body and mind will recognize as a signal that it’s time to wind it down.
• Go to the bathroom a half-hour before bedtime and then again just before you turn in for the night. This will help your bladder to void completely and perhaps avoid the need to make pit stops during the night.
Try to incorporate a couple of tips at a time, ease into it. After a while, you’ll agree nothing beats a good night’s sleep.
10. Enhance Your Mind/Body Connection: Practice yoga, Pilates, meditation, guided breathing or visual motor rehearsal. It’s been shown that one cannot have a stressed mind when the body is relaxed and visa versa. We are all like a Mobius strip, where there is no inside, no outside, just one continuous self without defined boundaries. By practicing on a regular basis, you will be able to call upon the relaxation response when you need it the most.
Whether you’re a busy mom, senior executive, OR nurse or small business owner, these tips should help reduce your risk of burnout. The trick is to do them…take that first step. Nothing is more sad than a candle that burns out before sharing its full measure of light with this world.
Have you developed any techniques to prevent burnout, which I have not touched on? I’d love to know what works for you.