Gosh, talk about timely.
As I write this, I have a heating pad on my neck and just finished popping half of a muscle relaxant. My neurologist prescribed these a couple days back, after I ended up in his office with a week-long tension headache.
Burn-out is all too real, my friends. Lots of people in my generation, for one, report feeling utterly exhausted before they hit 30. Whether it’s the increasing global instability, our unhealthy attachment to smartphones, or the crippling uncertainty of the future, our living and working environments aren’t always conducive to good mental health.
Now, there’s not much we can do about the quality of our world leaders. (Ah, if only!) Nor can our metal straws contribute much in the race against global warming, honestly.
However, there are some habits we can cultivate to make ourselves less prone to burning out. Here are five simple things you can start doing today:
- Cut down on mindless screen time.
- Say “no” more often, especially to things that don’t resonate with you.
- Declutter your mind.
- Start (and keep) a journal.
- Make time to play.
In this day and age, it’s almost impossible to avoid a glowing screen. Most of us require a computer or a smart phone to get work done, pay our bills, or to communicate.
Passive screen time, on the other hand, is what you and I tend to do after hours. You know what I mean: the aimless scrolling, stalking an ex on social media, or spacing out to Netflix.
So, what’s the difference? The former gets you closer to your goals and to friends and family. The latter simply rots your brain. If you want to diminish any feelings of listlessness and guilt, find other ways to alleviate boredom instead.
Don’t get me wrong. You should still do things that push you out of your comfort zone, especially if they’re in line with your most heartfelt ambitions.
Otherwise, feel free to refuse certain activities or interactions. Is that nosy Tita who always nags you about getting married inviting you for lunch? Go ahead and make an excuse. Is your problematic friend calling for happy hour when all you want is some peace and quiet? You can blow them off (nicely, of course).
The bottomline is, saying no to others can mean saying yes to yourself. When it comes to your mental well-being, never feel guilty about prioritizing your need to recharge.
The mind is a powerful thing. Our thoughts can turn into actions, which, in turn, morph into habits. And we all know how habits can often make or break our health, success, and happiness.
This is why you should be selective about your mindshare. Your aspirations, dreams, and the people you love all deserve a sizable chunk of your thoughts. In contrast, your officemate’s catty asides, petty annoyances, and longstanding grudges don’t.
“Travel light,” after all, doesn’t just pertain to literal journeys. The adage can do wonders for your mental health too.
Sure, you can use one to list down all the things you’re grateful for every day. Gratitude does make you more content and less likely to fall into the doldrums.
More importantly, though, journaling can be the key to knowing yourself better. Writing about your thoughts and feelings can help you process difficult situations more effectively. It’s also an excellent tool for learning from your mistakes, and thus enable you to make the right decisions.
Yes, even grown-ups need to play. Heck, given our crazy schedules, we probably need it more than the kids do.
Unstructured play time allows your mind to wander, which can stimulate new and innovative ideas in the process. In addition, it alleviates stress and tension. Besides, too much work is what leads to burn-out anyway, so occasionally doing the exact opposite can’t be bad.
So, the next time you feel like running across a field or blowing bubbles after a tough week, indulge yourself. Playtime shouldn’t have an expiry date.
On a final note, while these are all relatively simple steps, changing your lifestyle won’t be easy. Weaning yourself off your phone, for instance, might be more challenging than you think.
Still, don’t think of these measures as restrictions. They simply enable you to make room for things that actually matter, peace of mind being foremost among them.