The B Word

In a day and age where social media has become a virtual daily performance and the work atmosphere only extols the virtues of people who are charged up, switched on, working 24/7, racking up numbers, meeting targets, achieving, achieving, achieving- it becomes very easy to get caught up in a vicious cycle. ‘Work-life balance’ is merely a phrase with no meaning, ‘working hours’ are no longer ‘9 to 5’ but ‘as long as it takes to get the job done’ and ‘rat race’ is something that you are simply a part of.

When work takes its toll on your mental and physical health, your family/social/love life, and leaves no time for your personal interests or hobbies – you will inevitably fall prey to the dreaded ‘B’ word: burnout.

Coming back home at the end of the day feeling physically and mentally exhausted is a recipe for disaster and not a sustainable lifestyle. If you find yourself in such a situation, and want to try to avoid burning out, here are a few steps you can take:

1. Organize yourself: Take out some time at the start of every work day and make a small to-do list. What calls you have to make, what documents you have to review, what meetings you have to attend. Whether we realize it or not- without a plan of action, we end up spending a lot of time procrastinating, and as the day ticks on, we find ourselves becoming overwhelmed by an increasing pile of tending tasks. Make a concerted effort to wrap up as much of your work as possible during your work hours, and make a strict rule to not look at any work once you reach home.

2. Move around!: Take a walk, do some yoga, go for a run/ swim/ bicycle ride. Forget the physical health benefits, the clarity of mind that comes from physical activity can be a great stress relief and help you disengage from your mental stressors.

3. Make time for the important stuff: The things that get most overlooked if you are constantly busy with work are your relationships. Do not underestimate the quality of time and attention that other human beings require from you. You don’t have to do anything drastic! Simple steps; such as having tea with your family (during which you keep your phone on silent and in another room), keeping the weekend solely for family (and not mindless errands) or making sure you meet your friends at least once every two weeks. These may seem like small things but will go a long way in keeping you connected to the people you love,

4. Go easy on yourself: There is no shame in taking a break to recalibrate yourself. A day off if you are feeling overwhelmed, a short vacation to reward yourself for the hard work you have done.

5. Nurture your hobbies: whether it’s reading, flying kites, cooking or anything else that brings you joy and helps you unwind- don’t sacrifice it for work. You have to be selfish about your hobbies, keep a chunk of time aside to do the things you truly love, and protect them from any outside interference.

Avoiding burnout, somewhat ironically, requires some work- but a practical and disciplined approach to utilize your time effectively is what will get you the right results.