Last year, burnout became a hot topic during the pandemic. With lockdown restrictions creating devastating obstacles for mental health everywhere, I am not ashamed to admit that I battled with burnout halfway through 2020.
I was diagnosed with depression as a child. While therapy and certain routines kept those pesky demons at bay, lockdown and online learning and practice established hurdles that I did not have the energy to overcome. The final straw was my ADHD medication. Being depressed with dwindling dopamine converted into an unhealthy “concentration” for varsity. Ultimately, the reward center of my brain was completely wrung out.
I had never felt that way before: I couldn’t write, I didn’t have the energy to read (the thing that I loved most), I didn’t even feel my usual rush when I submitted an assignment.
Months later, I am doing a lot better. I know that I never want to experience such agony again. So, here is what I learned from my experience of healing from burnout:
As obvious as it may seem, when your body and mind are deeply drained, every ounce of your soul is screaming, “let me rest”. Getting quality sleep is the first, and most vital step, in the healing process. Get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per day, and don’t scrutinize yourself if you need naps. You are healing; please be gentle with yourself during this time, however long it may be.
2. Beware of the Doom Scroll
I admit that I had no idea that the “Doom Scroll” was a thing until my therapist (who is clearly more in the know than my introverted self) explained it to me in the midst of my sheer exhaustion. For those who do not know what it is, the Doom Scroll is when you find yourself mindlessly combing through your social media timeline, comparing yourself to countless others in the process. You may call it masochism, but truthfully, we are all guilty of it at times- so, put that judgment back where you found it. It is impractical to expect you to stop using social media cold turkey, especially during a time where social media is our only form of communication and socialization. Instead, try changing up your social media feed. Unfollow the models and celebrities that trigger your insecurities and follow some inspirational accounts. If there are friends who are currently provoking your insecurity, just mute their posts. That way you won’t have to see potentially triggering content, and you won’t start WW3 for unfollowing them.
3. Time in Nature
After spending time cooped up indoors, a change of scenery is a breath of fresh air. Sunshine and vitamin D is just what the psychiatrist prescribed to boost those serotonin levels. For those who are sentimentally attached to their daily planners, schedule half an hour to sit outside and simply breathe. If you can make it to the beach or go on a nature hike with some loved ones (socially distanced of course), even better. Regardless, get yourself outside. Remind yourself that there is a world outside your four walls and allow yourself to breathe new air. Out with old, and in with some new love and light.
4. Restorative Practices
Admittedly, I am a yoga and meditation junkie. These practices aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you have never tried a yoga class or guided meditation class, I highly recommend it. A very good friend of mine, who is a yoga instructor and breathwork teacher, introduced me to these amazing practices. Needless to say, she changed my life. If you are a newbie and have no idea where to start, look no further than Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. She designs yoga flows for specific emotions and occasions. I recommend her Yoga for Depression, Head and Heart Reset, and Yoga for When you Feel Dead Inside. She also has meditations on her YouTube channel. For those who can’t bear the thought of sitting still for longer than two minutes, there are other restorative practices such as journaling or colouring.
Truthfully, the most crucial thing you need to be doing is being patient with yourself. Hold a loving and gentle space for yourself in your heart. Be gentle with your weary heart and soul. You will heal.
Written by: Dakota Geduld