12 Feb Burnout prevention tip 3 – Engage in positive activity
Low mood, exhaustion, worry and negative self-talk are common parts of burnout. Part of the problem here is that they get in the way of doing things to help improve your mood, energy and self-esteem. The good news is that they ease in response to making simple behavioural changes. The trick here is to start small. You can build on these as you gain momentum. And remember – this isn’t empty happy-talk. There is strong research evidence that engaging in these activities regularly is a powerful way of countering anxiety and depression. Think of them as life hacks to enhance and maintain emotional health.
Activate with exercise
Anything that gets you moving is good. This can be going for a walk, gym, Pilates, running. I encourage my clients to do something like this every couple of days for at least 20 minutes. But it’s totally fine to start less often and for less time. Remember – you can build it up over time. You do you.
Pursue pleasurable activity
Do things you’d usually enjoy (even if it feels harder to enjoy right now) – this could be spending time outside, seeing or speaking to friends or family, eating out, going to the movies, eating something you enjoy. And if COVID restrictions are making these harder, try for compromises or alternatives – instead of the cinema, try connecting with a friend by say Zoom, Skype or FaceTime while you each watch the same movie in real time. Aim for at least one thing per day no matter how small. Click this link for some extra ideas.
Stimulate your curiosity
Use anything that engages your mind in a helpful way. Examples can be engaging in a skill or hobby, reading, jumping into a brainteaser, learning a new skill. It can even be work or study. If it’s hard to think of a current skill or hobby, try looking up tutorials or instructional videos online.
Master the must-dos
This is all about engaging in activities that bring a sense of accomplishment and being productive. And it’s not about finishing – it’s about engaging in the activity. This can include starting to fix something at home, paying bills, doing a house chore, helping someone do something.
Show the love
What I mean here is look for a chance to act with kindness towards someone. This one is really useful for you to get an immediate improvement in how you feel. This could be letting the person behind you go in front of you if you’re in line somewhere, paying a compliment to someone, or if you’re buying coffee at a cafe then buy a coffee for another customer as well.
Think of someone you know and thank them for something they do that you find helpful, especially if you haven’t had a chance to thank them yet. When you do, tell them what it is and how it’s helpful to you. Try this with as many people as you can think of.
Reflect on the wins*
At the end of each day, write down at least one small win for that day, no matter how apparently small. This could be something like just making the bus on time, finding something that you were looking for, or receiving a delivery you were waiting for. Then note down what you did to help make this happen and how you can try to have more of this in the future.
If you would like assistance with managing how you feel, please contact us on (02) 9119 8778 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. We are able to provide appointments in person, by phone and by video. Rebates from Medicare and your private health fund may be available for appointments.
If you are in a mental health emergency, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14, the Mental Health Line 1800 011 511, Emergency 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.
* This technique is based on the Three blessings exercise developed by Martin Seligman and Tayyab Rashid