Let’s face it: we all hit the wall sometimes. Our inboxes are overflowing, our calendars are packed, and the chat messages won’t stop. But burnout is not a sustainable state of being. Learning and teaching are both awesome ways to recharge because they engage your mind and motivate you to keep going. Sure, binging on Netflix and lying in the sun both have their merits, but if you want more than just a temporary respite from burnout, you’re better off keeping your brain active and fit.
Even though we know it’s bad for us, American workers can’t seem to give ourselves a break. Too many of us still buy into “hustle culture” and try to burn the candle at both ends. It’s no surprise we’re suffering from burnout at epidemic rates. My company’s research found nearly half (47%) of workers surveyed reported feeling burned out; the figure rose to 53% among millennials and Gen Z.
If you’re one of the many burnout sufferers, you might daydream about ditching it all to surf all day. Fortunately, there are more realistic approaches to combating burnout that don’t gobble up all your vacation time or risk your job security.
First off, when you’re feeling lethargic, disconnected, and unproductive, you can’t just talk yourself out of it or “power through.” Some employees may be reluctant to admit they’re feeling burnt out for fear of it being perceived as a shortcoming, but it’s actually critical to address the issue head on. Left unchecked, burnout can not only wreak havoc on your motivation and career, but your overall health and happiness as well.
When it comes to burnout, prevention is better than a cure. What works for me is what I also strongly recommend for others: spend some time and energy on learning. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Explore something new
Detachment and apathy are often the result of a daily routine mired in monotony. It’s a signal you need to switch things up. Now, I’m definitely biased (my company is the leading global marketplace for learning and instruction), but I think taking an online course is a great remedy for the doldrums. Rather than choosing something work-related or familiar, try a new hobby that pushes you to stretch. Learn how to cook an exotic cuisine, speak a foreign language, or even play a musical instrument. The experience and process of picking up a brand-new skill is more important than how good you get at it. In fact, don’t worry about mastery; just get creative and give yourself license to laugh if you make a mistake.
Share what you know
Sharing your knowledge with someone else has two amazing benefits: you’ll be reminded why you love your area of expertise and you’ll help someone else discover it. That might be just what you need to get re-engaged with your own work. Consider mentoring a less-experienced colleague or college student aspiring to enter your field. My company has a partnership with Spark, an organization that connects professionals with middle-schoolers. And if you don’t feel like taking an online course, you could go ahead and make your own and teach people all over the world who are hungry to learn.
Remember your purpose
It’s easy to become checked-out when you don’t find meaning in your work, but you don’t have to be saving the world in order to stay engaged either. It’s about having the right attitude and being able to find purpose in what you do. I was struck by a recent NY Times article about miserable “elites,” which described a study into “why particular janitors at a large hospital were so much more enthusiastic than others.” When you lose touch with your “why,” your work loses meaning and can drag you down.
If you’re low on motivation, get back to basics and remind yourself why you do what you do and who benefits from it. Reflect on what motivates and drives you. Connecting back to your “why” will help you get through those days when you find yourself daydreaming about a permanent vacation.
This article was originally published by ThriveGlobal.com.