Burnout happens. We all do our best to keep our heads in the game, but life can be discouraging, even downright exhausting, at times. The ruts will always be there, and we will inevitably fall into at least one of them throughout this journey. A setback might feel like an impasse, and the obstacles we must clear to pull ourselves back onto the open road are often difficult, but the path is there.
Immobility can suck every bit of motivation out of a person, so taking that first step to reverse it might feel more like a flying leap. The worst part about burnout is the way it can leave its victims trapped in place. Brooding. Suffering. Forward movement feels impossible, and yet the only real remedy is to act against it.
The following all might look like simple steps that couldn’t possibly refuel an empty spirit, but they’re each much more powerful than they might first appear.
A cluttered house makes for a cluttered brain. Has the home become disorganized? Are dishes piling in the sink? Is there a task you’ve been meaning to set aside the time to tackle? These to-do items might feel like a minor nuisance, but they could be weighing more heavily than you realize.
Every unfinished task is a nag at the back of the brain, which leaves us in a constant state of low-level stress. Taking on that spring cleaning, or even picking one room to detail, could take the background stress down a notch or two.
Do Something Selfless
Too many of us have been forced to survive in a “dog-eat-dog” world for too long, and we’re jaded and tired. The world has taught us that life is all about getting ahead—or, at the very least, keeping up with the Jonses. It can skew the mindset.
Acts of kindness feed the soul. Even when we’re down on our own luck, we still have something to offer others. One simple act could help someone else turn the corner. Just as importantly, it feels good to make a difference. Give to a local shelter, volunteer your time or find a cause that’s important to you; we often receive as much as we give.
Seek Deeper Meaning
Life can feel flat when we live in a world devoid of real depth. We all need something bigger than ourselves to be part of, whether it’s religious or humanitarian (or maybe a little of A and a little of B). Having something to believe in, a cause to pursue, something that’s personal and important, even if only to us, can fuel us in ways that simpler forms of gratification (such as social media and binge-watching Netflix) might not.
Take a Class
An idle mind can wander into dangerous places, so why not enrich yours while also finding something different and meaningful to do? One class could transform into a whole new life direction, opening the doors to additional educational opportunities and expanding social networks.
Consider filling out your FAFSA to see if you qualify for any grants to jumpstart your academic career. Not an option? Look through free courses available through accredited universities like Stanford and Harvard.
Try Something New
Following the same daily routine, day after day, can eventually form ruts in the road, and a drastic break might be the only way to get unstuck. Make a list of things you’ve been wanting to do. It doesn’t matter if the items are currently feasible; add them anyway.
Divide the list into two new ones: items that are attainable right now and items you’ll need to work toward. Pick one activity from each list. Make a point to do the first item this week, but also start working on plans to make the other a reality as well. Start saving up, planning the time off, whatever it takes. The leap will likely be worth it.
Take a Real Vacation
When was the last time you packed your bags and went to explore new sights? The world is a vast and incredible place, and the memories we build on the road or through our experiences enrich our minds and broaden our horizons.
And let’s face it, no matter how much you love your job, you need to give yourself a break every once in a while. A “staycation” can be a decent break, but a change of scenery might breathe new life into your spirit. Take a day trip if unavoidable issues have gotten in the way of saving up. Even a simple picnic or a stroll through a museum can do wonders.
Connect With Nature
All animals are intimately connected to the earth, even humans, and we become disconnected when we spend too much time indoors or navigating concrete jungles. It can be easy to lose touch of how intricate, complex and fantastic the world really is. Even the tiniest of creatures can have ways of surprising us.
Take in the awesomeness of a redwood forest, spend a day at a beach or out at sea, climb a mountain, go camping in the desert—whatever piece of nature calls out to you, heed it. Observe the plants and animals you encounter with love and respect; remember, you’re a guest in their domain. Connect with some of them if you can. Yes, seriously. You might be surprised by the number of creatures that show astonishment over the realization that you, too, are a thinking, rational being capable of connection despite the immense language barriers.
Modern society has found thousands of ways to empty our spirits, so we may need to take active approaches when it comes to refueling ourselves. Staying productive and motivated may take more than daily self-care and healthy routines; we might need to replenish ourselves regularly on multiple levels. We lose a lot to the daily grind, and a person can only keep moving on empty for so long.