7 ways to deal with burnout

77% of us admit to regular feelings of burnout. Whether it’s work-related or family-related, burnout stinks. We might feel lethargic, grumpy, and under-motivated. Likely, burnout leaves us feeling stuck.

These 7 tips fight off feelings of burnout and get us unstuck. Get ready to get progressing again!

Episode 2.15: 7 ways to deal with burnout

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This is the Bad-ass Dad Pod

  • 77% of us admit to feeling burned out in our jobs on the regular.
  • Should we just accept that that is part and parcel for being a working person
  • OR, are there things we can do about feelings of burnout?
  • We’re going to explore action steps to deal with burn out in this episode of the Bad-Ass Dad Pod
    • Your podcast for leveling up relationally, physically and financially no matter what age you are.
  • My name is Ryan Dunn
    • The Money Miser of Old Hickory
    • Questor of the Mighty Dunk
    • Slayer of relationship complacency
    • I’m a Level 8 Gym Warrior
    • A level 6 Relationship Ranger
    • And a level 5 debt mage.

How do you know when you’re burned out?

  1. For me… I find myself uttering the phrase “I don’t want to…”
  2. Some people might say “I just can’t…” or “I can’t deal with this…”
    1. I hate those phrases
    2. They’re phrases of defeat.
    3. BUT, they are truly suggestive of burn out because when we feel burnt out we are simultaneously feeling defeated.
  3. And with that, we feel tired
    1. We’re grumpy
    2. We want to do something different, but we probably don’t know what else we want to be doing
      1. And that’s troublesome because then we start falling into compulsive gratification habits
      2. Like overeating or snacking
      3. Or extra drinks every evening
      4. Or compulsive internet or social media surfing
    3. I tend to shut down on people and sink into my own little world
      1. Which often involves gaming
      2. And, honestly, this episode I’m making for me… because that’s where I’ve been lately.
      3. I am totally in a phase of sulk 
        1. Where find myself just wanting to push people away
        2. And indulge myself in games or fantasy
        3. That sounds fun… but it’s not really healthy… nor do I believe it’s the most rewarding way to live.
        4. I’m going to be living my best life when I’m fostering healthy, happy relationships and engaging in the world instead of escaping from it.
  4. So if you just want to get away, too, then you might be feeling some burn out.
  5. There are some other things I do
    1. I don’t drink alcohol… but I’ll over-imbibe in coffee when I’m feeling stuck.
    2. Or I’ll seek out sugary snacks
    3. And those mess me big time
    4. Because I really want to shed fat and put on lean muscle, physically.
    5. I probably don’t need to detail how the sugar impacts that quest.
    6. But the caffeine in coffee is also problematic
      1. Because lots of caffeine makes me anxious
      2. And those anxious feelings produce cortisol in the body
      3. And cortisol, I’ve learned, blocks the production of testosterone
      4. And without testosterone, it’s tough to burn fat and build muscle.
    7. AND THEN, I get feeling more stuck and burned out because my workouts don’t seem to be accomplishing much.
  6. We see how this snowballs, right?
    1. How feeling burned out leads to compounding feelings of frustration.
  7. So, really, recognizing the signs of feeling burned out is one way to begin dealing with burn out.
    1. It’s certainly not the finishing step.
    2. But it is definitely the necessary first step.
  8. What are your signs of burn out?
    1. Are you like me and repeat the “I don’t want to phrase”?
    2. Or end up retreating into yourself?
    3. Or do you lean into other compulsive behaviors like consumption of harmful products?
    4. Look for those signs.
  9. When I’m there in burn out, there is one thing I look to do first:
  1. I try to give myself a win–I immediately seek to finish something.
    1. Now, I have a horrible habit of lingering in projects
    2. Inventory right now:
      1. Camper almost finished
      2. I’ve been training to dunk for two years, not finished yet.
      3. I have 3 books I’m in the middle of
        1. Microfamous by Matt Johnson
        2. Gunfighters of the West by Bat Masterson
        3. Reading a book for my work: Permission to be Black by AD Thomason.
      4. Projects for this podcast, I have an email list project that’s half complete.
      5. AND, I’ve started a new enterprise to offer training to ministers as digital content creators
        1. Blog posts written
        2. But haven’t made the web site or mailing list there yet.
    3. When I think about those projects as a whole, I feel stuck. I’m getting a bit anxious right now. 
      1. And feeling stuck is burnout
      2. We’re not moving.
    4. The fix here is to give myself a quick win.
      1. It’s to get something crossed off that priority.
      2. So as I’m feeling anxious, the best thing I can do is identify what is going to be my quickest win, and then make a plan and a priority to get that thing done.
      3. And that might even come at the cost of one of those other projects in the short term.
        1. For example, It might pay for me to take a half day off from work to finish a my email list or camper project.
        2. That sounds counter-productive, right?
          1. And my employer may not be pleased in the short term.
          2. BUT, I think, having a project finished is going to rejuvenate me to the point that I’ll be more productive at work after having that win of completing something under my belt.
          3. I’m going to feel unstuck.
        3. That creates a sense of momentum and forward progress, which is all we really need to ease a sense of burn out.
        4. In many ways, burn out arises because we’re unsure if what we’re doing has consequence.
        5. So the trick is to complete something–anything–in order to show ourselves that we’re progressing.
  2. All these tips for overcoming burnout really build on each other. There’s something of a natural progression at work here.
    1. So the next step in our progression is to simply give ourselves fewer options. 
    2. And this is related to the first step because, in that step we’re winnowing down the options of things to get stressed about.
    3. You can do that through practice, like finishing something, or you can simply make a choice of focus.
      1. In essence, we’re going to make a choice to let something go.
      2. We’re going to quit something.
      3. We’re going to do that so we feel freed to concentrate on that which is going to bring us the most satisfaction–or in which we’ll have the greatest impact.
      4. It feels funny to say this, but it might be time to quit something.
        1. If you’re burned out, what can you quit?
      5. Here’s my recommendation: quit that which depletes you the most.
        1. Here’s a quick example, I sometimes get mired in reading books that I don’t actually enjoy all that much.
        2. But after I’ve invested time in reading them, I don’t want to give up.
        3. This is your invitation to give up. 
        4. Yes, it sucks to waste time reading half a book that sucks.
        5. But it doesn’t suck as bad as reading a whole book that sucks, to you.
      6. And you can take that into your work life.
        1. Do you have the agency to quit certain activities that suck you dry?
        2. Can you delegate something?
        3. Can you at least diminish the amount of time you spend on those activities?
        4. Most of us are not too keen on answering email.
          1. You can’t quite answering email.
          2. But you can choose to only focus on email during certain blocks of time during the day.
            1. So maybe you simply take a ½ hour in the morning and a ½ hour in the afternoon to respond to email.
            2. That’s it.
  3. And we’re going to build on that on our next way of treating burn out.
    1. It’s simply to give yourself less time to work on stuff.
    2. That might sound anxiety producing to you, so hear me out on this.
      1. We all have a tendency to put off tasks that we don’t enjoy.
      2. We linger on starting or completing them.
      3. So going back to our example of answering email.
        1. If we don’t like to do it, then we’ll put it off.
        2. The problem is, is that even though we’re not actively engaged in answering email while we go on to do something else, our brains are still engaged in that task.
        3. So if we recognize an email we need to respond to early in the day… then let it linger to the end of the day until we respond, our brains have been chewing on that thing all day long.
        4. And the more they chew, the more they feel stressed.
      4. So a way to circumvent that day-long, anxiety-producing chewing, is to give an arbitrary deadline.
        1. And in this case, it might look like this:
          1. I’m either going to respond to that email in this window of time I have. So the ½ hour I have for email this morning.
          2. Or I’m going to quit it… and recognize that I can’t do anything with it until my ½ hour window in the afternoon.
        2. In a sense, we’re alleviating ourselves of the feeling of ineffectualness by inaction–by choosing either deliberate action or non-action.
      5. Let me exemplify this another way…
        1. I’ve been playing around with the assumption that I only have 4-hours to work each day.
        2. So each day, I commit to getting certain necessary work tasks all done before lunch.
        3. This is freeing, because I’m not spending all day ruminating on the idea that I need to do copy editing and turn in receipts. 
        4. Otherwise, I would put those tasks off, because they’re not my favorites.
          1. But I’d still feel pressure the of needing to get them done.
          2. That, then, leads to a feeling of stuckness–because I have tasks I know I need to do, but am not progressing on.
        5. NOW, this does not mean I’m only working 4-hours each day.
          1. It just means I’m getting the necessary done before I eat lunch.
          2. Then the afternoons are free for more creative work projects.
          3. Which fits really well in my bio-rhythm.
  4. Speaking of bio-rhythms, our next step in battling burn out is to pay attention to ourselves.
    1. Particularly, pay attention to how well you’re taking care of yourself.
    2. For me, the central question here is “what am I doing to really enjoy life?”
    3. If I’m feeling burned out, I want to address what I’m doing to enjoy life.
      1. And there’s a big idea to note here: enjoying life is not the same as escaping from life.
      2. There’s a time and a place for escapist activities–like immersive gaming and binge-watching.
        1. I don’t want you to hear me crapping all over those activities… because I enjoy them, too
        2. And there’s space in life for those.
      3. But those are activities that take us out of our lives.
      4. We want to focus on activities that bring us into enjoyment of our own lives.
      5. For me, that’s going for a run in the woods…
        1. Where I can really appreciate some natural beauty 
        2. While appreciating the goodness of moving and breathing and sweating.
      6. OR, it’s doing something fun or novel with my sweetheart.
        1. We have so much fun taking little adventures together.
        2. That stuff is life-affirming.
    4. Have you given yourself room to do something life-affirming lately?
      1. If not, that might be your burnout right there.
      2. And it’s something you’ll need to take charge of.
        1. Nobody else is going schedule life-affirming stuff for you.
        2. Nobody else is going to pay attention to your burnout.
        3. That’s up to you.
  5. That’s kind of a big action item… so for the next tip in battling burnout, let’s focus on something easily accessible on the daily.
    1. It’s to break up cycles of rumination.
    2. Let me explain:
      1. We often build on things in our minds.
      2. For example, my wife and I were working out the other day.
      3. During our workout, she got an unpleasant work related call.
      4. And I could tell that in-between sets of workouts, she was turning that call over and over in her brain–alongside other negative events from the day.
      5. So this phone call became a trigger for a full-blown bad day.
      6. And one bad-day on top of another leads to burn out.
      7. There’s a way to trick that out and to upset the cycle of rumination that leads to a bad day.
      8. Actually, there are several, but here’s one that works for me:
        1. It’s to simply stop and make myself note what I’m grateful for in that very moment.
        2. So, if I were my wife in that moment, I might have tripped up the cycle of rumination by noting that I was thankful to have a shared moment together.
        3. And that I was moving sweating.
        4. And that it was a warm day and we were experiencing the fresh air.
        5. It doesn’t take much to upset that cycle… just little things like that.
      9. I utilize this little trick when I get annoyed with my close relationships
        1. It happens, right.
        2. So when I start mentally ruminating on the things they do which annoy me,
        3. I’ll try to upset that cycle of rumination by noting their traits for which I’m grateful.
          1. I’m grateful that my wife feels so deeply and is so expressive.
          2. I’m grateful that my son wants to share so much of his life with me.
          3. It’s good, good stuff.
  6. Final strategy I’ll share in this episode… it’s a tough one… but share your vulnerability.
    1. Admit that you’re feeling burned out friend.
    2. Extra points for admitting to another human being.
      1. It’s OK.
      2. Everyone gets burnt out.
      3. That does not make you less strong or less capable.
      4. It makes you human… and strong enough to admit that you’re human.
      5. I’ll admit, often just bringing up the topic reveals a sense of release. 
      6. I feel unstuck in admitting that I’m feeling stuck.
      7. There’s progression in that.
      8. And, you know what, most of the time I find that people are pretty understanding.
      9. And often times offer to take something off of my plate. 
      10. It’s cool
      11. So pick out that trusted person who you can tell “I feel a bit a burnt out.”
    3. You’re not less of a man… less of a worker… less of a bad-ass…
    4. You’re being real… and that’s awesome.
  7. You are awesome.
    1. You’ve not quit on this episode.
    2. Hey, while you’re in a bad-ass mood, cruise over to Facebook and join up with the Bad-Ass Dad Squad.
      1. The conversation and quest for awesome continues there.
    3. Also, while you’re punching up things.
      1. Punch up the subscribe button and a 5-star review.
      2. So much appreciated.
    4. We’ll be back with more next week.
    5. In the meantime, keep questing after that bad-ass quest… the journey is the point.
    6. I’m Ryan Dunn
    7. Music is by Eyoelin.
    8. OK Bye.

Published by RyanDunn

Ryan Dunn has a bunch of certificates on his desk. A few are awards for content production and marketing. Another marks his ordination as a minister. One says he’s earned a BA in English from the University of Iowa. The certificate next to that says he earned an MA in Christian Practice from Duke (with honors!). Ryan is most proud, though, of the things he’s created: The Compass Podcast, some deep content on RethinkChurch.org, a series of practical spiritual advice videos, a long-lasting marriage, and fantastic little boy. (He enjoyed A LOT of help on all of those projects, especially the last two.)

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