5 Ways to Manage Stress and Prevent Burnout

“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.” – Mandy Hale

I have a confession to make. I haven’t been taking care of myself lately like I usually do. (I have been having a little too much fun basking in the glory of the KC Royals in the World Series!) Because of this I have less energy and am less productive than I would like to be.

It makes me realize how important self-care is when it comes to being at our best and working toward the results we want in life.

When we don’t take care of ourselves we are much more prone to burnout. Burnout is that sense of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by stress, and it can have a serious impact in all areas of our life.

Here are some symptoms of burnout to be aware of.

  • Cognitive – Changes in the way you think. We often starting to think more negatively and cynically about life. 
  • Emotional –  Higher levels of stress and lower levels of life satisfaction. There may be a sense of emotional emptiness at the extreme end.
  • Physical – A lack of energy and higher levels of fatigue. A feeling like your sledging through muck and mud.
  • Relational – Acting more aggressively or antagonistically toward others. More conflict than usual.
  • Spiritual – A missing sense of purpose and meaning in your day to day life. 

We all need to prioritize our self-care if we are going to be at our best and get the results we want.

Don’t assume that you are some superhuman who doesn’t need to take care of yourself or take a break. Here are five ways to help you manage stress and prevent burnout.

“Lighten up on yourself. No one is perfect. Gently accept your humanness.” – Deborah Day

1. Learn to set limits 

I know, I know, it’s hard to say no and pass up an opportunity. You want to do it all and more so you can get ahead of the pack. But we all need to create limits on what we commit to so we don’t over-extend ourselves.

Be realistic about expectations you have for yourself. Recognize and accept that you’re human and you have limitations. What is one thing you may need to say “no” to for now?

2. Prioritize what’s most important

Along the same lines as setting limits is recognizing what to prioritize and what to set aside. By realizing what’s most important to you and what your goals and desires are you can start to do more of what is most meaningful and productive.

“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.” – Deborah Day

We often dedicate time to things that aren’t getting us closer to what we want, or that don’t lead to greater fulfillment and meaning in our life.

Review this list of values and determine your top five to seven. How much time are you dedicated to what’s most important?

3. Humor, laughter, and fun

One of the first things people neglect when they get stressed out is hobbies and pleasurable activities. This is obviously a problem.

Instead of trying to work harder allow yourself to take a break. Find time to have fun. Seek out thing that you enjoy. Be proactive when it comes to enjoying life by planning things to look forward to.

What activities do you have to look forward to? These can be short-term in the next week, or more long-term in the next couple of months.

4. Connection with others

One of the most important areas to keep ourselves emotionally healthy is to spend time with nourishing and genuine relationships. You may be tired and don’t want to socialize but you must cultivate relationships in times of stress.

Call up a family member or friend and make time to enjoy shared activities. Make a list of five people who you can connect with when you need some support. When you are started to feel stressed reach out to them.

Also, you can always contact an online therapist and reach out for professional support if friends and family aren’t available.

5. Finding meaning

When we start to lose a sense of purpose and meaning life get’s much more tedious and difficult to deal with.

Find ways to have your spiritual needs met. Find inspiration and seek out meaningful activities that you are passionate about.

What is one change you could make in your thinking or routine to make life more meaningful?

“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” – Jean Shinoda Bolen