To put it bluntly, 2020 was one awful experience for all of us. But now, 2020 is in the rear-view and fading fast, and we have a bright, beautiful future to look forward to!

With all the stress and anxiety that swirled around all our heads in 2020, it should come as no surprise that mental burnout and stress was at an all time high. As we prepare to take on 2021, TMS Center of Lehigh Valley is here to provide you with a few key strategies that can help keep you out of that dark place throughout the year ahead. But first…

What is Burnout Anyway?

Between soaring debt, job insecurity, and ridiculous productivity demands, many of us can fall victim to absolute emotional and mental exhaustion, and that’s what burnout is. As we all attempt to juggle social lives, work demands, and relationships, it isn’t exactly uncommon to feel overwhelmed and emotionally drained.

In fact, some aspects of modern life which are currently considered to be just “part of the norm” are in fact damaging, including excessive exposure to social media as well as the oh-so-familiar grind of the at-home work week.

Some symptoms of mental burnout include constant exhaustion, body aches (think headaches and muscle fatigue), changes in appetite and sleep patterns, and irritability. Of course, none of that is very much to deal with.

On the bright side, public awareness of the reality of mental burnout has become a popular topic in mental wellness sources of late This is promising, because it seems to indicate a shift in ideology towards compassion and understanding rather than stigma.

These days, there are more scientists and researchers studying burnout and its effects on mental health as well as physical health, and the more they study, the more we learn about how to fix it.

So What Can You Do About It?

We’re so glad you asked! As overwhelming and intimidating as it can seem from time to time, there are actually many things you can do to prevent burnout from becoming a regular part of your life.

Of course, it all begins with a radical change to your personal rest and self-care routine. Keep in mind, everyone is different, so it’s only natural for everyone to have their own unique approach to dealing with mental burnout. That said, here are some simple ways you can begin to face it head on.

Keep It Moving! – Even though the gym may not be the greatest place to be right now, there are still several ways to keep active while stuck at home. Remember that exercise doesn’t always need to be a grueling punishment, and it can actually be quite fun and a great way to honor your need for mental wellness and self-care.

If this seems intimidating, try starting small with a simple walk around the block or by turning on your favorite playlist and dancing around a little. Even simple housework like cleaning up your workspace, kitchen, and living area can be a great way to get the blood pumping and reduce stress in the moment.

Rest, Rest Again, and Rest Some More – Contrary to what seems like popular belief, you’re entitled to rest and relaxation from time to time. At its most fundamental level, burnout is simply a result of too much stress and not enough rest. While considering this, it’s important to remember that the appropriate amount of rest is exactly how much you actually need, not how much you think you need.

When we say rest, we don’t mean mindless scrolling on social or casually responding to emails, we mean something where you can fully disconnect. The reality is, humans need a lot of rest. The constant grind is not exactly normal, and it’s important to get plenty of sleep each and every night.

If you’re worried about the amount of rest you allow yourself to have, try reconsidering your sleep schedule or thinking of ways to clean up your sleep hygiene (total darkness, no television, absolute peace and quiet).

Set Healthy Boundaries – Setting healthy boundaries is something we can all struggle with from time to time, but it is extremely important to make sure you are always keeping a healthy balance between your “me-time” and your time spent at work or interacting with others.

We understand how terrible it can feel to disappoint people we care about, but the fact is, boundary setting is an incredibly important life skill. If you have no boundaries with others, you can end up spreading yourself far too thin. This is a perfect recipe for burnout and can actually be damaging to your relationships.

One of the best ways to begin setting boundaries is by altering the way you communicate with others. Remember, you are just as important as everyone else, and your feelings don’t have to take a backseat to the feelings of your friends, parents, or co-workers. That said, it’s important to have tact. If it helps, try scripting out some conversations that you’ve been meaning to have with certain people in your life. Be assertive, but careful not to take a rude or inconsiderate tone.

Focus on “Good Enough” Rather than “Perfection – Look, we get it, you want to be the absolute best employee, sibling, son/daughter, or boyfriend/girlfriend you can be. However, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice yourself in the process.

The past year or so has been hard enough, there’s no reason to put even more pressure on yourself to be perfect all the time. The truth is, no one is perfect; it’s always a losing battle to try to be.

Sometimes, the fact that you’re here and trying is all that matters. You don’t need to hold yourself to a higher standard when you’re already amazing just the way you are.

Try Thinking Outside the Box – The world today is so different than it was even 20 years ago. Society as a whole is expecting more from people than ever before. When push comes to shove, something’s got to give.

It’s ok to seek out some help. If simply talking it out or taking medication to treat issues like depression and anxiety don’t seem to be getting the job done, try thinking outside the box.

At TMS Center of Lehigh Valley, we’re here to provide you with other options for treating your mental health. To learn more about what we do and to further discuss how you can avoid mental burnout, depression, and anxiety this year, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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