Feeling emotionally, physically, or mentally exhausted? If you can’t seem to shake these feelings, you might be experiencing burnout. With the pandemic still impacting so many of us, numerous studies show that rates of burnout continue to remain high among workers around the world.
While much might feel beyond your control these days, you have the power to protect and build your energy, both of which are key to helping treat and prevent burnout. Better yet, it doesn’t have to take hours. Even a few small, simple steps each day can help you move in a positive direction, say experts. So whether you have one, five, or 10-plus minutes, these tips can help boost your energy and lift your mood.
1. Savor meaningful moments.
Lynn Zakeri, a clinical social worker, suggests “focusing on what is good about today”—no matter how minor it initially might seem. For example, she notes, maybe you heard a hilarious joke or chatted with a friend. Numerous studies have found that focusing on meaningful, satisfying moments positively affects our health, mood, and self-esteem.
If you have one minute: Name one profound, gratifying, or put-a-smile-on-your-face moment that happened today. Reflect on why it was so wonderful.
If you have five minutes: Jot down three good things. Writing down what you’re grateful for helps train your brain to look for the positive, which boosts your mood, self-esteem, and your resilience.
If you have 10-plus minutes: Journal about a difficult time, identifying something meaningful that came from it. Maybe you and your partner strengthened your bond, or you realized that you are able to pivot during difficult situations.
2. Play like a kid again.
“As adults, we seem to forget the importance of play,” says Amber Petrozziello, a therapist at Empower Your Mind Therapy. “Having fun and laughing lower your anxiety, reduce stress, and allow for creative juices to flow.” Playing like a kid means letting your guard down, so keep an open mind and, for inspiration, think about what you used to enjoy when you were young.
If you have one minute: Make up a silly dance move to your favorite song. Bonus: Involve your loved ones. Or, if you have a playful pet, chase them around the room.
If you have five minutes: Break out the crayons or markers and color, whether it’s in a coloring book or freeform doodling.
If you have 10-plus minutes: Play a board game, or if you’re near a park with a playground, go for a swing.
3. Mind your mindset.
Negative thoughts can quickly lead to greater feelings of overwhelm. But that also means that changing your thoughts can quickly have a positive impact. Holding a more accurate, brighter, and empowering perspective reduces stress and supports you in making healthier decisions.
If you have one minute: “A simple mantra can reset your day in a positive tone and energize you for what’s ahead,” says Petrozziello. It also can remind you of your values. The key is to use mantras that resonate with you. For example: “I am strong.” “I can control my next step.” “I choose to be kind to myself and others.”
If you have five minutes: Reframe a frustration into a challenge you can solve or a productive action you can take. For instance, instead of thinking, “I’m a terrible parent who always yells,” reframe this to, “I sometimes lose my temper, but I love my child. Before I get too upset, I’ll take a few deep, belly breaths.” Or, “I’ll meditate for a minute or two throughout the day, so I’m calmer as a whole.”
If you have 10-plus minutes: Get a more realistic read on a situation, instead of letting your thoughts spiral into a worst-case scenario (that might not even happen). To start, consider the situation. Now write the worst possible outcome and how likely it is to happen. Do the same for the best possible outcome and also for an outcome that’s most likely to occur. Assessing the probability of these outcomes interrupts the cycle of worst-case thinking and helps clear your perspective.
4. Soothe your senses.
“Using your senses can be a great way to remove yourself from anxious or burnout feelings and focus on self-soothing,” says Petrozziello. Connecting to our senses also grounds us in the present moment.
If you have one minute: Gaze out a window with a nice view, or scroll through pictures on your phone that make you happy, suggests Petrozziello. Research indicates that peppermint can awaken the senses and energize your mood, she says, so try some tea or light a peppermint-scented candle.
If you have five minutes: Listen to calming, classical music, or a meditation with your favorite sounds, like birds chirping or rain falling.
If you have 10-plus minutes: Take a hot bath or shower, or wrap yourself up in a soft or weighted blanket and relax.