Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, reports of “burnout” have been rising. A new study found that more than half of all workers report feeling burned out. Cases of burnout at home and at school have also been increasing.
For the past year and a half, experts have been warning of the heavy emotional and psychological toll that the pandemic is taking. The long-term effects of the elevated isolation, stress, and economic stability are still to be seen, but in the short term it appears to be leading to mental health struggles such as anxiety and depression as well as a sense of being depleted.
Recovering from burnout can be more difficult and complex than avoiding it in the first place. Here are 10 creative ways to practice self-care and prevent burnout before it impacts your physical and mental health.
- Sleep. Sleep is one of the most important ways our bodies recover from physical and emotional stress. Make sure you are getting quality sleep each night by avoiding screens, caffeine, alcohol, exercise and stressful situations before bed.
- Pamper yourself. Try turning your house into a spa for the night. Light some candles, take a warm bath, play some soft music and focus on accepting and loving yourself just as you are.
- Journal. Keeping a written or video journal is a great form of self-care. Expressing your thoughts and feelings on a regular basis can prevent them from building up and causing resentment.
- Call your friends. Staying in social connection is extremely important during times of stress and crisis. Reach out to your friends and family on a daily basis—even if it’s just a short message—to maintain your close connections.
- Try an ice bath or cold shower. Cold exposure can help reduce inflammation and support your nervous system. It also helps strengthen your vagus nerve, which can reduce stress and the effects of stress on the body.
- Help someone else. Whether it’s volunteering, donating or raising awareness, helping someone in need or supporting a cause you believe in can boost your mood and energy.
- Reduce screen time. Try taking a day off from social media, television and your computer. This can allow your nervous system to take a break from processing information and gives your eyes a rest as well.
- Stretch. The body can store emotion and stress in areas such as the hips and shoulders. By stretching, massaging and breathing into these areas you can relieve tension.
- Get Creative. Creativity can unlock different areas of the brain and get us in touch with our hearts. Try creating something small—like a sketch or poem—and work your way up from there.
- Try professional help. Mental health professionals can be extremely helpful and beneficial. Even if you don’t feel like you “need” a professional, giving it a try could pleasantly surprise you.