burnout tips

Making Space to Think, Create and Thrive

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In this busy internet-connected world we live in, our minds are increasingly bombarded with information and notifications from emails, apps, content management systems, websites, social media sites and more. We need to think fast and make decisions faster. Technology is helping us work more efficiently but if you’re not careful you can get serious brain overload and emotional overwhelm.

Since the information age is here to stay, it’s up to us to be mindful about making space for downtime. Space can mean brain space, time space (like on your calendar) or physical space. For instance, even if you have a busy day, blocking off a 10-15 minute window for a walk outside, can refresh your mind and give you renewed energy for the tasks ahead.

If you’re bordering on burnout, consider these 8 ways to create extra space and give your mind a rest.

1. Cat Nap

Taking time out for a 5-10 minute nap, can be beneficial if you’re struggling to concentrate. You don’t even need to leave your chair for this one, just mute your phone and close your eyes. Admittedly this may not be advisable if you’re working in an open plan office, but anyone with their own office or who works from home can cat nap in private.

  2. Wake Up Earlier

Are you always in a rush when you start your day? By waking up 10-15 minutes earlier you can slowly get your mind in gear and get going at your own pace. There’s no need for everything to happen at breakneck speed. Go about your business with a sense of calm and hopefully you’ll be  surprised at how much less stressed you feel.

3. Venture Outdoors

Fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for tired minds. So be sure to take your lunch break outside if it’s sunny or go for a walk after work. The change of scenery will give you an opportunity to shift out of work-mode and allow you to see the bigger picture.

4. Turn Off The TV

It’s easy to automatically switch on the TV to relax and unwind after a hard day’s work. But this can overload your mind with information and stimulation leading you to feel even more zonked. I’m not suggesting you give up your favorite shows (let’s not get crazy here!), but don’t just watch TV for the sake of watching it. Try reading a book, taking a bath or listening to a podcast to give your brain a break.

5. Avoid The Commute

If you can, choose to work remotely or move closer to your work, rather than take a lengthy commute to the office. Apart from saving money on transport, you’ll also be doing your mind and body a favor. Driving many hours to and from work means sacrificing a significant chunk of time out of your day that could be better spent exercising, cooking, socializing with family and friends or getting more sleep.

6. Lengthen Your Lunch

In France a leisurely lunch break is the cultural norm. There’s none of this grabbing a quick bite at your desk while you continue to work at full speed. While your workplace may frown on a 2 hour lunch break, there’s nothing wrong with taking an extra 5 or 10 minutes if it makes your work in the afternoon more efficient.

7. Make Time For Meditation

The beauty of meditation is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. There are many apps you can use to meditate (Calm is a good one). But simply sitting quietly and breathing, will allow you to center your mind and create space in your day.

8. Try the Pomodoro Technique

I talk about this technique in Time Management Tips to Boost Your Productivity. It’s good one to adopt as you set a timer for 25 minutes and focus on a task you need to do without distraction. After the timer rings you give yourself a break for 3-5 minutes, and then set the timer again to work on the same task or a different task. After 4 ‘Pomodoros’ you can have a longer break for 15-30 minutes.

I love this technique as it forces you into a state of concentration for short periods of time – it’s surprising how much you can get done in 25 minutes! But it also allows you to create space in your day so you’re not working constantly in a focused state which can lead to mental burnout.

How good are you at making space?

There are lots of other ways that you can take time out. Booking a week’s holiday or using your sick leave for a mental health day are just a few additional suggestions for creating extra space. The most important thing to remember is to be mindful of your own needs and make downtime a priority in your life.


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