5 Tips to Manage Stress and Avoid Burnout in 2020
Happy New Year!
You’ve entered 2020 full of high hopes and ready to start fresh. You are ready for this year to be different. It’s time for a change, and you’re ready to commit to caring for yourself and making that change this year.
January is a Time for Reflecting & Goal Setting
With the end of another decade, you’ve been feeling more reflective lately. As you look back, you observe the things that didn’t work in the last year. Or 2 years. Or 10 years. And, you are using that knowledge of what hasn’t worked to propel you forward into this new decade. You’re starting 2020 feeling more motivated than ever. You’re feeling motivated to be a better version of yourself. As you turn your attention forward, you’ve begun to set new goals for yourself and develop plans for achieving big dreams in the upcoming year.
As you reflect on 2019, you realise you’ve been a little burnt out.
You’ve worked hard to take care of everyone else. In fact, it feels like you have to be everything to everyone. Others depend on you. But you’ve been overworked for a while now. Your work feels draining, not energising. You’ve been sick a couple of times recently, but you feel exhausted even when you’re physically healthy. It feels like you are constantly juggling responsibilities and rushing from one thing to the next. Even when you’re out having fun, part of your mind is still on your long to-do list.
You know you can’t keep up this pace forever.
In 2020, you’re setting a goal to better manage stress.
You know that self-care needs to be a top priority this year, and you’ve promised yourself to not work yourself to burnout again. Not only do you want to survive this year, you also want to thrive. You worked so hard last year that you forgot to take care of yourself. But that’s not going to happen this year. This year, you’ll establish the right routines and find balance in your life.
Taking care of yourself will help you reach other goals.
You have so many things you want to accomplish this year. So many things to tick off your list. You know that the list is do-able. However, you know you need to take care of yourself in order to be at your best and achieve your other goals. You realise that you’re going to have to prioritise yourself.
If you take the time now to set a goal and make a plan to care for yourself, you’ll build your resilience. Then, when you come face-to-face with difficult times, you’ll have the strength to continue to push through.
As a reminder, it starts with a self-care mindset.
In last month’s post, we talked about the mindset involved in reducing stress and the need for ongoing self-care. Once you’ve got the mindset covered though, it takes more. You need a practical plan in place for how you can keep up with self-care all year round to avoid burnout.
5 Tips for Building Resilience Against Burnout in 2020
You’re ready to take care of yourself, but not sure where to start. It starts with good self-care habits that you can consistently follow. Here are some practical places to begin.
Self-Care Tip #1: Plan to Take Breaks Throughout the Upcoming Year
Begin your year with planning when you take time off work. Of course, things can come up that may change your schedule. It’s possible that emergencies could come up or special occasions will prompt you to move things around in the schedule. However, if you mark breaks in your diary now, you are keeping the idea of taking a break top of your mind. This way, you’re less likely to be left rushed trying to find a way to ‘get rid’ of your annual leave before you lose it.
Plan the breaks in a way that works for you.
Everyone needs something a little different in their break schedule. Maybe you’re someone who needs 1 or 2 extra-long holidays to help separate and disconnect from work to feel refreshed. Maybe you even have family living abroad and longer breaks are needed so you can travel and reconnect with other important people in your life.
On the other hand, maybe you’re someone who needs several shorter breaks, say 4-6 times a year, with a week off here and a few long weekends there. Maybe breaks work better for your family when they align with your children’s school holidays and half-term breaks. Or it could be that you know you start losing concentration every quarter if you don’t take a break.
The bottom line is that breaks don’t have to be fancy or expensive. They just need to meet your needs.
Breaks can be as simple as taking time to do house repairs or spending a couple of days going for walks in the countryside. Just something to give your mind time to re-set.
Planning ahead now, at the beginning of the year, by marking it out gives you something to be excited about. Knowing this treat is coming will help motivate you in between all the hard work that you do so you don’t become discouraged or burnt out.
Self-Care Tip #2: Plan Out Your Meals
Have you been in the habit of eating out for convenience or drinking too much alcohol? If you are feeling the impact these food habits have on both on your waistline and wallet, maybe it’s time to create a new breakfast, lunch or dinner routine.
Meal planning can take the stress out of deciding what to eat, saves you money and helps you continue eating healthy even when life gets busy.
A few tips to make meal planning easier:
- Consider doing online shopping and marking items you use frequently as favourite items so you can shop quickly each week.
- Pre-plan meals for an entire week at a time.
- Keep healthy snacks and meal bars on hand (so you’re not tempted by chocolates or crisps when you’re feeling low in energy).
- Pre-make breakfast so it’s ready to go when your alarm clock wakes you the next day. This means you can literally grab and go.
- Make food in batches for the week or even freeze extra-large batches to use at a later date.
Self-Care Tip #3: Keep Your Top Priorities Top of Mind
You have certain goals you want to achieve in your personal and work life. For example, if this year you know you need to give special care and attention to your family due to a new arrival. Or perhaps a big part of your life is that you are acting as a carer to an ageing parent. Regardless of what it is, there are specific things you’ve named as a priority that needs your care, attention and active involvement.
On the other hand, there are some things you will need to take off your list that required attention last year but aren’t truly top priorities for you. Maybe there’s something you need to say “no” to or take off your plate now so you can focus on what’s important this year.
Sometimes we can get excited and take on projects that seem interesting but truly take away from the most important things. At some point this year, you’ll experience this where a new opportunity will come up or you’ll be asked to do something you feel like you need to do. However, taking this thing on would take time, energy and resources away from those things you’ve set as priorities.
This is why it’s so important to identify what those top few priorities are now and to write them down. Make a manageable list of the things that you want to focus on this year. Keep the list short so you can recall it on your hand (or both hands) without losing track or muddled.
Then, say “yes” only to those things that will benefit you by helping you reach those top goals. Say “no” to things that will take you away from what is most important to you.
Self-Care Tip #4: Take Time for Fun Days or Nights Out to Support your Mental Wellness
Most of your life you are responsible and busy doing things to help others. However, it’s important for you to also make time for fun days or nights out. Perhaps it feels like an unfamiliar concept to bring more adventure into your life. Consider doing something that you’re familiar with and you know you’ll enjoy such as going to a museum, comedy club, music event or festival. For example, all in the heart of Islington, you can go shopping in Angel Central, find hidden gems in Camden Passage, watch a film at the Vue cinema, see live music or theatre at The King’s Head Theatre, or take a quiet stroll along Regent’s Canal (aka. Islington Tunnel) – turn into Colebrooke Row for extra tranquility if you want to avoid the busyness of Upper Street.
Any activity where you can let go, smile, laugh, dance, see things from another perspective, or be creative is an excellent form of self-care!
Sometimes these moments of joy need to be planned in advance. Otherwise, the weeks of work will turn into months and then you wonder why you’re feeling so stressed! However, if you are a planner by nature, maybe you can also challenge yourself to be free and spontaneous. So perhaps you plan a night off but not a specific activity. Then, when the time comes you just see what you and a friend can come up with on the spot without too much planning or expectation.
Self-Care Tip #5: Set Yourself Up for Success with Your Mental Health
You know yourself best. In your self-reflection over the past year, what mental health challenges did you notice? Did you struggle with burnout to the point where you were less productive than you wanted to be, needed to change jobs or had to take some time off work? Stop to think of the steps leading up to that. Now, ask yourself what you can put in place to avoid being in the same situation this year.
For instance, it could be that you can save some emergency helpline numbers in the contacts of your phone. This way, if you feel depressed again you can easily call the Samaritans at 116 123. Perhaps you want to download a meditation app, start listening to a funny podcast or read a new self-help book. Some people even find it helpful to write a new affirmation or positive statement on their mirror each week. Another idea is to join a yoga studio and attend a yoga session at the beginning and end of each week to give attention to your body and to help you stay grounded. These types of resources can help you become more conscientious of your mental health, so it remains a top priority throughout the year.
Counselling as Self-Care
Maybe counselling would be helpful to add to your self-care plan for 2020. As a therapist who specialises in helping high achievers who often face a lot of pressure, as well as first responders, medical professionals and other “helpers” who often experience burnout, I’d love to help you.
You may think your struggles aren’t “bad enough” to need the help of a therapist. However, many people seek counselling at points when they are not in a crisis or standing at a crossroads, a point of desperation. Perhaps you have something niggling. Maybe it’s a long-standing issue that feels important to address. Counselling can help you work on that issue so you can continue to build strength and resilience. Through counselling, you can get to a stronger place and mindset.
Begin Therapy for First Responders and Helping Professionals in London
If you experience stress, burnout, anxiety or can’t let go of work – you may be experiencing trauma. I can help you work through this trauma in a new and different way. One of my specialties is dramatherapy for first responders. You may be doubting your role. Or, wondering how you fit into the bigger picture when bad things keep happening in our world. Perhaps, you recognise the way your job is affecting your family. Maybe you just don’t think therapy can work for you. Whatever your reasons for reading this are, if you’re a first responder, I can help you.
You do not have to manage stress and burnout all on your own.
When you are ready to take control of your life, I am ready to help you. We can meet for therapy in Angel or Farringdon, at your convenience. If you are ready to let go of your stress and feel more connected with your loved ones, I can help.
Let’s get started with a free 20-minute therapy consultation over the phone. I look forward to speaking with you very soon!
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Please note that this blog is meant to be educational and should not be a substitute for therapy.
If you would like to enquire about therapy, please contact me or book an appointment: https://ytherapy.com/book-an-appointment/