Avoiding burnout syndrome is key to a healthy life, personally and professionally. On the 3rd Saturday of every month, my gym replaces the regular boot camp classes with “Rest & Recovery”. The loud rock music gets swapped out for relaxing, instrumental melodies, everyone grabs a yoga mat, and then we stretch and foam roll for one full hour. The following Monday, trainer Tre is back to ‘stupid hard’ workouts and pushing us to our limits to reach new goals. (Don’t believe me? See for yourself.)
Here’s the thing; these aren’t ‘days off’. Eating Taco Bell and binge-watching Netflix all day isn’t an acceptable replacement for a Rest & Recovery class. The purpose is to stretch and roll your muscles so that they become loose and relaxed, decreasing your risk of injury. It is a very specific type of physical activity designed to ward off mental burnout and improve your workouts in the weeks ahead.
Burnout Syndrome Happens in Business, Too.
Small business owners, C-Suite Executives, and entry-level employees alike often work to the point of burning out. We all know how it feels: the to-do list constantly gets longer and the work-day somehow seems to get shorter. And even when you know there’s more to be done, you just can’t muster up the energy to go that extra mile. It’s a never-ending cycle that leads to self-doubt, frustration, and ultimately, decreased productivity.
Stay Ahead of Burnout Syndrome
Being quarantined because of a global pandemic is stressful for a million different reasons, personal and professional. Not to mention, the stress of the health crisis is in addition to the stresses of your normal life! Scheduling a professional recovery day even before you feel overwhelmed can greatly decrease your risk of experiencing burnout syndrome.
Everyone responds to stress differently. Isaac Newton used his time in quarantine during the bubonic plague to discover gravity!
Obviously, you shouldn’t expect to change the laws of science. Instead, stay ahead of burnout by reading books and blogs, listening to podcasts about your profession, or going for a morning walk. These relaxing activities can help you prevent burnout syndrome and stay productive during times of extreme stress.
6 Tips to Combat Burnout Syndrome
To be the best business owner you can be, here are 6 tips for creating a professional ‘Rest & Recovery’ day so that you can ward off mental burnout and make your hard work count.
1. Pick a day.
You could choose the first Friday of every month, every 20th day, or just close your eyes and stick your finger on the calendar. There’s no magic to this part of the process, just pick a day and stick to it.
You might say: “There’s no way I can give up a whole day!”
We get it. You’ve got a business to run and a full 8 hours can mean money lost. Instead, maybe every Tuesday you turn the morning into your ‘recovery day’ so that you can be at the restaurant for the lunch and dinner shifts.
The goal is to set a significant period of time for activities you don’t typically get to do.
2. Clear your schedule.
Make it virtually impossible for anyone to schedule a meeting with you during your designated recovery day.
- Create a recurring event on your calendar that lasts from 8-5 (or whenever your recovery period is) so that coworkers can’t schedule meetings during this time.
- Turn your cell phone to Do Not Disturb.
- Take the kids to the grandparent’s house!
The goal is to switch from ‘work’ mode to ‘rest’ mode. It can be challenging not to worry about impending deadlines or incoming emails, but it’s important to remember that the goal of a rest and recovery day is to prevent burnout syndrome down the road. If you’re constantly thinking about all the things you need to do later, ‘rest mode’ will be hard to achieve. So while you may get behind on small tasks for a day, focus on the benefits that feeling recharged will give you in the following weeks.
3. Find the activities that make you feel recharged.
Like I said before, this isn’t just a day off. The activities you choose to do should:
- Improve your professional skills or work-life
- Relate to your line-of-work or industry
- Not be deadline-based (that’s just called work!)
- Make you feel relaxed, recharged, and more connected to your professional goals
Personally, I love reading marketing blogs, looking through Facebook Groups for small businesses, and taking time to organize my Google Drive. (Yes, organizing truly does make me feel relaxed!) None of these are tasks or projects required for my job, but they still make me feel more connected to the world of marketing and prepared to do my professional work better. You could also take an online seminar, schedule a coffee date with a fellow business owner, or listen to industry podcasts while going for a walk or bike ride.
4. Do them!
Not every professional recovery day has to be the same. It’s totally okay to spend this month’s day focused on improving your writing skills, while next month might be spent learning about the newest innovations in restaurant technology. Take some time to prioritize what this month’s recovery day is all about, then do it!
5. Encourage others to join in.
Whereas your traditional workday can look like a desk job with 20 other people in the room, it obviously looks different when working from home. Stay connected with your friends, co-workers, and employees and encourage them to partake in their own professional recovery day, or even invite them to join yours! Have a virtual coffee date and chat about tips and tricks to avoid burnout. Share this post with them and help take care of your colleagues! Imagine how much more pleasant returning to work will be if everyone is free from burnout and motivated to do their best.
6. Keep Burnout at Bay in the Work Day
Having a professional recovery day is the first step to avoiding burnout syndrome, but there is more you can do outside of work. Sleep expert Dr. Sophie Bostock explains that working in your bed, or even your pajamas can cause sleep problems during the day and night. Sleeping less at night and more during the day is almost a surefire guarantee to gain physical and mental burnout. Bostock explains that our brains associate memories and experiences, which means if you’re working in bed while wearing pajamas, your brain says “Ok, I’m looking at a computer, but I’m in bed so why am I not asleep?” Keeping work spaces separate from your living spaces at home is a fantastic way to avoid burnout syndrome.
This post was updated on June 10, 2020.