How to recover from a burnout
There were times when I was burned out. I was working too much on the job that wasn’t intellectually challenging and didn’t give me a sense of fulfillment. I was tired from routine. Probably all of my closest people would have said to me that I looked tired.
Some people turned away from me thinking that I became worse as a person. They said that I’ve changed.
You are not the person I used to know.
Yes. That is kind of crap that I used to hear. I learned that these people are full of shit.
I never gave up on someone just because he is tired.
I am very thankful to these people. They taught me a lot about relationships and how people can treat you in critical situations. I learned that the truth about relationships is actual as always.
Recovery from a burnout is not something that happens randomly. One should take a 100% responsibility for the self-healing.
This is the strategy that I applied to reignite myself.
It is simple:
Step 1. Step back.
When things got messed up I had to stop moving. I had to understand where the things went wrong in the first place.
When people asked me: “How are you?” I used to say: “I am ok”.
I might have repeated it so many times that I started to believe it myself. I wasn’t.
It took me some time to realize that it’s ok to stop moving, it’s ok to make a step back and stop growing and developing yourself because something is wrong.
What I had to do at that point is to
Step 2. Admit the status quo.
The first step in solving the problem is admitting that the problem exists.
Look at the status quo objectively.
You are burned out. Accept it.
You haven’t been always like this and you won’t be. Realize that it is temporary. Even if you can’t escape the current dead zone at the moment, know that it will inevitably happen sooner or later.
Step 3. Take your time
It is important to learn how to withstand the test with pause — the period of time where nothing is happening.
It’s ok not to have all answers. It’s ok to be uncomfortable in the state of uncertainty of what is going to happen next.
When I had a burnout the apathy was real. I lost meanings in all things, I thought that everything is worthless. I slept late, I didn’t want to get up and do things. Nothing made any sense.
Surprisingly, one of the most efficient ways to start doing something is by doing nothing.
Meditate. Stay still and just BE.
This might be a bit counter-intuitive, but if you stand in the center of the room and literally passively do nothing it would be hard to do stay still even for 10 minutes.
You will have the itch — the internal impulse to move that is impossible to resist.
Channel this energy into something useful.
Step 4. Do new things. Do uncomfortable things
Clean your house.
When you are cleaning your house you are cleaning your mind. Personally, I think it is a perfect first step towards any change you decided to implement in your life. Purify the energy around you and no doubt you will feel better.
Along with the cleaning start
Every object has an information structure on it. Let’s take something simple. A pen for example. When you look at it the whole datasheet of information pops up in your head. You think: “It’s a tool. It has a blue ink inside. I can write with it. I can even poke someone with it etc.” The information unfolds itself but it does so fueled by your energy of attention.
The energy of attention is finite. Every single object present in your home, even the smallest one, is draining it.
Get rid of (and don’t buy) things that don’t add up value to your life.
When I asked people on Quora: “What are the things you wish you knew in your 30s?” many of them said often mention that they wish they knew that how really little is the importance that material things have.
One guy said that he bought some custom hand-made wooden furniture that he bought for 1500$ a piece. He said: “I was very proud of having them. Now I am 60 and I never used them. Recently, I was able to sell them for 150$ piece. Only now I can see how I collected useless things all my life.”
Another man at the age of 72 writes: “ What I learned in the end of the life is that it all doesn’t matter. I can buy a Lamborghini with cash, but I drive old Toyota than ran 250k km +. I could order a suit from an Italian tailor for a couple of grands, but I wear t-shirts for 8 bucks in Walmart. I can afford a golden smartphone, but I even ditched my dumb-phone several months ago. That drives my sons crazy. They still can’t get it — in the end, it all doesn’t matter.”
Reading people who write better than I do — this is how I start my morning. Most of them make me smile, some of them make my day.
When I sometimes find stories of people who experienced burnouts and share their stories I understand that if someone could get their shit together so can I.
I can’t sort out the mess in my life if I don’t organize the things on the paper. The constant buzzing of the self-talk in the head at times could be overwhelming.
Writing is a great instrument for self-reflecting. It helps to look at the situation objectively.
Writing is a therapy. When I write I do it in a conversational way. Of course, I am hoping that when I write my message will find YOU, my reader, but oftentimes that is not my primary objective. Sometimes I just want to resolve something inside me once and for all. Putting my thoughts into the words on the paper helps a lot.
When you work out your body synthesizes endorphins whose essential role is to serve as a natural painkiller. The feeling of emptiness that accompanies the burnout induces negative self-talk which in its turn may cause depression.
Deliberately going through the physical pain removes the pain of the spirit. Nothing is more refreshing than an hour of intense physical activity.
One of the best things that I did was that I turned off all notifications for the apps on my phone. Surprisingly, the world didn’t stop revolving. Some of the apps can be deleted at all. Overall this single step alone will liberate you.
Spend time on nature.
Reconnect with the inner Source. Come back to the deep understanding that you are who you are regardless of the storm you are going through. Nature teaches us that everything is temporary and it reminds us that we tend to exaggerate the importance of many things.
Spend time with people you love.
They love you too. They will support you and tell you that no matter what happens in your life they will stay by your side. Don’t be embarrassed to rest in their love, recover from your wounds and regain your energy. There will be days when you will need to be there for them too.
Step 5. Set a new goal
The difference between the person who has “fire in his eyes” and the one who doesn’t is in the goal that sets on fire. The energy that fuels you comes from your mission which is similar to the potential energy — the distance between you and the goal and the scale of it, that what defines the scale of you as a person.
When you feel that you recovered enough state your goals. Your goal should be ambitious enough to create the desired voltage. It should be scary and very precisely formulated.
Step 6. Start executing and gain momentum.
Stillness gives birth to doubts. The movement leaves no space for them. Start doing things, at first maybe even mechanically.
Deprive yourself of the emotional component associated with the movement. “Rent yourself out” to the process. Let it flow through you.
Build up the momentum and don’t lose it. Idleness is deadly.
Step 7. Look back.
Lastly, when your doubts still pop up, don’t forget to look back and evaluate your progress.
When your negative self-talk wants to sabotage your confidence and the sense of self-worth, come back to your memories and see how many things you have already accomplished.
The goal is not the end point, the goal is the process.
It’s ok to feel fear and have self-doubts. It is only natural. What is not ok is to let them control you.
I tell myself:
You have been through quite some shit. You have made it this far.
There will be enough of you to make just one more step.
Just take one more fucking step.
When I start to feel burnout I remind myself of the scene in “Skyfall” when Bond meets the villain Silva.
When Silva vividly brags about all the magnificently terrible things he can do with just a single click on his laptop including “the gas explosion in London”. Bond smiles: “Well, everybody needs a hobby.”
Silva is puzzled. He is taking several seconds to comprehend something and he is failing at it. He goes: “So what’s yours?”
Burnouts happen. Fuck them.
“Whatever life throws at me, come at me bro, I am ready!” That should become your mindset.
Bond is not bulletproof. He is vulnerable.
But what makes him so attractively tough is the way he copes with his vulnerabilities.
This what makes him James Bond.
He knows that the situations when he feel helpless suck big time. They do so in real life too. But the moment when you stand up after you fall — that is the moment of glory.
I write this to you:
Wherever you are, whatever you do right now. I know you are tired. It’s ok.
To all those people who gave up on me in the moment of my weakness, to those who said “You lost your fire” I salute:
❓ Do you have a question? Ask me! I answer daily on Quora.