What’s the secret to start recovering from burnout? white-space.
Ok, let me back up a bit. When it’s out of context, the secret makes no sense, I know! But stick with me, and you’ll see how adding more of it into your day-to-day life will make sure that a vacation isn’t the only solution for recovering from burnout.
1. AVOID THE MINDNUMBING
Have you ever had times when you want to watch just one episode on Netflix, and somehow it turns into a 3 ½ hour binge, you’re halfway through the season, and left wondering where the time went?
Yup. Me, too.
Or maybe, it’s thinking you’ll jump onto Instagram to check your notifications, then find yourself getting sucked into a meme account looking at posts from 57 weeks ago.
Yeah, that’s also me. I’ve had to set some STRONG boundaries with technology!
Ok, so my relationship with technology aside, you can probably see a similarity in these activities. Both seem like you’re giving your brain and body a break, but in reality, you’re numbing yourself.
So while a good binge session might seem like an excellent idea for recovering from burnout, it’s actually not helping at all.
Let’s say you work a 9-5 every day, and you’re feeling burnout, so you go home to relax, fall on the couch to chill, and it seems like you have to get ready to go to bed in a blink of an eye.
It’s like you’re time-traveling past your “off” time, and you get transported to the next session of whatever’s burning you out.
So, recovering from burnout principle #1 is the make your off time SLOW instead of wiz by. Get into a habit of actually noticing the time as it passes on your time off.
Pretend you’re on vacation and you’re on the beach. You’re not on your screen, numbing yourself, right? You’re lying there looking at the gorgeous scenery and taking in the sun.
In other words, you’re present in the moment.
You’re noticing your surroundings, you’re thinking about where you are, not being distracted by tv plots or other people’s social media accounts.
Your mind (and your thoughts) are in the same place your body is. That, my friend, is where the real rest and recovering from burnout happens.
Here’s the truth. You can’t recharge while numbing.
2. HOW TO RECHARGE SO TIME WILL SLOW
Ok, so if distraction with mind-numbing scrolling, Netflix, and staying busy isn’t the key to start recovering from burnout, then what is?
I like to call it the white space. Or really, the time when you disengage your brain, so you have time to notice your surroundings, but not much else. This is when real recovery happens, and an added bonus of having space for creativity.
I know. This sounds kind of complicated. Don’t worry, this isn’t something that you have to be a monk who’s made a vow of silence to do.
The quickest way to do this? Be bored.
Literally, just sit there and do nothing and get bored. If you feel yourself itching to reach for your phone, the TV remote, or a book, then you’re on the right track.
I know I don’t have to tell you all about how technology has changed who we are as a human race. But think about this, when you were a kid, and you didn’t have a smartphone, you probably got bored a lot more, right?
And during this time you were creative (I mean, you couldn’t scroll on a phone, so you had to really THINK about ways to entertain yourself) and you probably weren’t feeling burnout, right?
I know you could argue, “I didn’t have responsibilities back then!” and while that’s true, this is why allowing white space in is more important to do NOW then it was when you had it back then!
The idea here is that we want time to slow down, you want to really feel the time when you’re resting. Not numb yourself to where you blink, and you’re already back at work starting the cycle all over again. Or spend your time off by looking at a screen comparing yourself and worrying about all the stuff you need to do tomorrow.
QUICK TIPS TO MAKE THE MOST OF RECOVERY TIME
Schedule time to get bored (even just 5 minutes)
This is especially important if you have your own business so that way you can have time to get ideas. Ever had mind-blowing ideas in the shower before? It happens when you aren’t hyper-focused.
If you’re at work and symptoms of burnout, come up, create small pockets of time to step away and breathe
The key to making these pockets of time work is utilizing that time without your phone or anything else to distract yourself. Again, think about your time in the shower.
You’re probably relaxed and not stressing, right? Instead, you’re focused on your surroundings, like feeling the warm water, watching the steam, and listening to the water.
This is a perfect example of the white-space happening. So, what if you’re at work and not near a shower? Take a few minutes to step away and take notice of your surroundings.