Awareness Months, Mental Health, Self Improvement, Stress Awareness, Stress Relief

How To Avoid Burnout Using Different Types of Rest

April is Stress Awareness Month and after the past two years I think we can all agree we know what it is, but I’m not sure we’ve learned how to handle it yet! We’ve either been working less due to furlough or working more due to working at home and the boss thinks they can get hold of us at all hours. We had stressors from outside the home and inside the home, visible and invisible. Keeping calm and carrying on is just not an option anymore.

I’ve written this article to show you how to decrease your stress and help avoid burnout in the long run just by adjusting the way you use your rest time. Even a small adjustment to your routine could make a huge difference. There is no need to sit in the flames until you’re on fire anymore.

What Is ‘Burnout’?

It is a form of exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged emotional, physical, and mental stress. Burnout is often intrinsically linked to your job but can happen when you’re overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to keep up with the unwaveringly persistent demands of life.

Recognising Burnout

You may be feeling:
– Excessively tired or exhausted
– A lack of enthusiasm or outright negativity towards other things/your work/people
– Increased frustration or quicker to anger than usual
– Disconnected from others or activites you previously enjoyed

Over time this can escalate into more severe depression and and cause you to isolate yourself from others but the best thing is to take action – start with small actions to get the ball rolling, and reach out to a trust friend or relative to let them know you’re struggling.

How Do We Recover From, and Prevent, Burnout?

We rest! By rest I don’t mean sleep more. Have you had that feeling where you’re trying to sleep more and you’re still dog tired and lack enthusiam and kind of snappy? Yeah, me too. I’m willing to bet many of you have as well. There are actually 7 types of rest to choose from and none of them include a lecture on trying to fit 8+ hours sleep into your schedule because sleep and rest are two different things.

After reading an article on the TED’s “How to Be a Better Human” series I decided I’d test out the advice because, as a high-achieving, chronically-tired person, I know my routine needed to change. I’ve spent 6 weeks practicing new types of rest and I can now share my findings with you!

What Are The 7 Different Types of Rest?

1. Physical Rest
Yes, this can include sleeping, napping and laying on the sofa. Active physical rest includes activities that improve flexibility, mobility and circulation like yoga, stretching and massage therapy. I have a monthly massage but I often neglect my stretching so I implemented a 5 minute routine when I wake up just to get my joints moving before I start my day. After a week I realised I started to look forward to my little stretch to shake those night time cobwebs off my joints.

2. Mental Rest
This one is for those who can’t switch their thoughts off, especially before bed. You’re trying to concentrate on one task during the day but thinking about all the jobs you need to complete at home. Some of this inability to focus on the task at hand comes from a subconscious anxiety around forgetting to do something or be somewhere later. My favourite way to counter this and quiet the mind is to write everything down on a list, stops it from buzzing around my brain and puts it somewhere I won’t forget it.

3. Sensory Rest
We are surrounded by bright lights, electronic screens, background noise and notifications because our life is often confined to our phone (did somebody say multiple Whatsapp group chats?!). When our senses are being battered from all angles it can take a toll without us even realising. I’ve switched all my device screens so the blue light filter is on and the brightness is turned down which helps reduce eye strain, I’m still working on not using my phone right before bed though… (I’m blaming the Whatsapp group chats!). You can also try 5 minutes with a pair of earplugs in and your eyes closed, even short periods of sensory deprivation can make a difference.

4. Creative Rest
This has been the most important piece of mt resting puzzle. I’m a naturally creative person and, rather ironically, I chose to persue a career in human science and healthcare to deliberately leave the artistic stuff as my hobby… a hobby I have had precisely zero time to indulge in until now. Instead of staring at the tv on my day off I choose to do at least an hour of something creative, like scrapbooking, knitting, sewing, gemming (if you know, you know) or drawing.

Creative rest isn’t just about making something. It’s about appreciating the arts and immersing yourself in nature – a short walk where you pay attention to the smaller details like flowers, colours, sound of the birds; or try displaying pictures in your workspace that inspire you.

5. Emotional Rest
Repeat these three phrases: “Thanks, I really appreciate that/you”, “I’m not okay”, and “no”. Commit these phrases to memory and then use them! Emotional rest is often needed by those who say yes to things and feel underappreciated, or who are carrying a burden by themselves. By telling people you appreciate their actions it may help someone else to feel emotionally bouyant. By telling someone you aren’t okay and unburdening yourself it can lift the emotional weight just enough to provide mental relief. By learning to say no to people you are drawing a healthy boundary to look after yourself when you need it rather than give your energy to others at times when you feel most depleted.

6. Social Rest
That’s right… time alone! For the people who know me well, I can be a bit of an antisocial moth. I find myself attracted to the metaphorical light that is a night in my flat tucked under a blanket with a book or Netflix. My days of wild party animal are far behind me… mostly. This is because my social battery drains quickly and I know I need to recharge it by spending time alone. This is the one type of rest i’m very good at! However, I have discovered that choosing who I spend my time with is almost as refreshing. Meeting friends and family who are chilled out as me, or who match my energy on a low battery day means I can be social without feeling exhausted after.

7. Spiritual Rest
This is the ability to connect beyond the physical and mental; to feel a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance and purpose. Try prayer, meditation or community involvement to your daily routine. Tap into your inner intuition and sit with your thoughts, go one step further and explore the tarot deck. Practice gratefulness and write down everything you are happy with. Nurture your indoor plants or make time to connect with a loved one without distraction. Choose any activity that heals your soul, whatever that may be. I personally love a walk with my boyfriend to chat and be silly, or to write a list of all the things that are going well in my life at that moment so I can appreciate where I am right now.

If you got this far and you thought this was all a load of poppycock then at least take away the point that you can shut your eyes and stick your fingers in your ears at work while legitimately claiming you are seeking sensory rest!

Don’t forget, extreme fatigue can also be a sign of other underlying health conditions, so please do speak to a healthcare professional if you’re concerned.