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how to avoid burnout

How to Avoid Burnout with a Personal Reset Day

If you’ve Googled “how to avoid burnout” while simultaneously juggling three tasks at once and stress eating on five hours of sleep, this article is for you. Let’s face it. We are all moving through life a million miles a minute, and things tend to get a little messy along the way. You wake up. Rush through your morning routine. Begin your workday and scramble to check your email between back-to-back meetings. Finish work. Cook dinner. Tackle personal life tasks. Finish your day. Rinse and repeat.  All the while, your days begin to blend together and your to-do list can feel like it’s piling up with a backlog of dread. 

The result? Severe burnout. 

You may have taken a mental health day where you focused on destressing through meditation, a spa treatment, or simply just focusing on “me” time. Taking a mental health day is critical to avoiding burnout and giving your body the rest and relaxation it needs. 

However, taking a mental health day to avoid burnout or practicing slow living may not be enough for people who suffer from anxiety or are currently feeling overwhelmed with life. You know that feeling where there is so much to do and tackle that you feel completely paralyzed and don’t get anything accomplished? This can feel like a cycle of constant worry and being stuck in a “rut” that lacks positive productivity. 

If this feeling resonates with you, you may need a reset day. 

What is a Personal Reset Day? 

A personal reset day goes beyond a mental health day because it’s not just a time out – it’s a day of reflection and reorganization. A personal reset day is about carving out time to take a step back and analyze what is and isn’t working in your life which is critical to avoiding burnout long-term. Think of a reset day as the first step to better optimize your life and help you organize the things that have been weighing you down. At the end of a successful reset day, you should have a clear mind, a clear plan, and feel reinvigorated to put your plan into action. 

Read on to learn the 10 critical steps to a successful personal reset day and how to avoid burnout long-term. 

1. Clear your schedule. 

Take a day off work, send the kids to the sitter, or simply dedicate a day on the weekend to your reset day. To give your personal reset day the attention it deserves, you should eliminate all distractions and have no other plans scheduled.  Learning how to avoid burnout starts with a calming environment. Before beginning the reset exercise, consider creating a relaxing ambiance by putting on comfortable clothes, choosing a cozy part of your home, lighting some candles, and pouring yourself a cup of coffee or hot beverage. You will need a notebook and a pen for the reset exercise.

2. Clear your mind with morning journaling. 

While journaling in the morning is not a groundbreaking concept, it is a critical activity for clearing your mind before you begin your reset exercise.  Part of what contributes to us feeling paralyzed in our lives are the thoughts and worries that whirl around our minds. This is your chance to take those thoughts and worries and dump them onto a page. Simply carve out 5-10 minutes and write down anything and everything that comes to mind. Even if it’s nonsense, write it down. This exercise will help you clear your mind, potentially reveal some of the things weighing on you, and might even give you a few ideas on how to avoid burnout. 

3. Do something relaxing. 

Now that you’ve cleared your mind, it’s a good idea to do a relaxing activity before jumping into the reset exercise. Whether you meditate, do some yoga, or go for a walk, make sure you engage in an activity that will lower your stress level and bring you peace of mind. This will help you be in the right mindset for the most productive reset exercise.  

4. Reflect on what’s going well in your life. 

It’s important to start your reset day on a positive note by writing down what is going well in your life. Where are you thriving? What activities in your daily life bring you joy? After writing down all the things that are going well, take a moment to reflect if there are any ways that you can enhance these things even further. Are there ways you can do more of the things that bring you joy? Shifting your mindset to focus on the positive is one of the most effective ways to help you learn how to avoid burnout.

5. Explore what has room for improvement in your life.

Next, write down the areas of your life that have room for improvement. What areas of your life are stressing you out? What areas of your life aren’t going as smoothly as you would like? What areas of your life need to be better organized? Capture it all on the page. Once you are finished covering all of the areas of improvement, reflect on any blockers that are keeping you from improving in these areas and brainstorm solutions on how you can improve these areas of your life. If you get stuck on coming up with solutions, discuss them with a friend who may have encountered a similar issue or has already solved this problem. You don’t have to come up with all the answers in one sitting. 

6. Explore the tasks you’ve been putting off that have been weighing on you. 

We all have those tasks we keep putting off, but nag us in the back of our minds. It’s time to ensure you tackle these tasks and clear room in your mind for more positive and productive thoughts and feelings. Write down all the tasks you’ve been putting off at work and in your personal life, no matter how small. If they weigh on your mind, write them down. For each task you’ve been putting off, write an immediate first step you can take towards getting it done. This will help you put progress in motion.

7. Explore areas of your life where you are spending a lot of time but they have a low impact on your happiness or progress towards your goals. 

We spend so much of our daily lives on tasks and activities that are necessary but don’t bring us any joy or move us any closer to our goals. For instance, if you spend five hours a week cleaning your home and it takes away from time you could be spending on things that bring you joy or action items that will move you closer to your goals, maybe it’s time to invest in a home cleaning service. In this portion of the exercise, write down all of the things in your work and personal life that take ample time but have a low impact on your happiness or moving the needle towards your goals. 

Once you’ve captured everything on the page, begin reflecting on what you can outsource or delegate. If you cannot outsource or delegate, how can you spend less time on this task? It can be as simple as breaking down the task into smaller 15-minute chunks throughout your week, so while you are still spending the time, it’s not taking large blocks of time away from more meaningful activities or prohibiting you from making progress towards your big-picture goals. 

8. Explore areas of your life that would have a high impact on your happiness and goals but you are spending little time. 

So often activities and tasks that will bring us happiness or move us closer to our goals get put on the backburner for menial activities that feel more pressing. Write down all of the activities or action items in your work and personal life that you don’t make enough time for that would have a major, positive impact on your life.

9. Organize your reset plan.

Based on the results of what is going well, what needs improvement, tasks you’ve been putting off, and your outline of high and low impact tasks, it’s time to start organizing your reset plan.  Proper prioritization is essential to your plan’s success. 

Overall, your reset action plan should have the following prioritization:

  1. Action items for tasks you’ve been putting off 
  2. Action items for eliminating low impact tasks
  3. Action items for areas of improvement 
  4. Action items for high impact activities
  5. Action items for further improving what is going well   

Prioritizing your Plan: 

  • Prioritize tasks you’ve been putting off: To eliminate the tasks that are weighing on you and give you positive momentum, prioritize the tasks that you’ve been putting off by listing them first in your action plan. Clearly outline at least the first step in getting these tasks tackled and give each task a deadline. Breaking these tasks down into steps will increase the likelihood of getting them accomplished. Put the easiest tasks first so you can earn some quick wins and build momentum. 
  • List the action items for eliminating or lessening the time spent on low-impact activities: Based on the results of your brainstorming surrounding low-impact activities that are taking up too much of your time, write down the action steps for how you are going to delegate or lessen the time spent on these tasks with deadlines to accomplish. 
  • List the solutions to the areas of your life that need improvement: Earlier in the exercise, you listed the areas of your life that need improvement and brainstormed potential solutions. Now summarize those solutions as the next steps in your action plan giving them clear deadlines. If some areas of improvement don’t have a solution yet, that’s ok, list it in the plan as a placeholder until you come up with a solution. 
  • List the high-impact activities with clear action steps: Based on the results of your high-impact activities brainstorm, write down actionable steps for these activities with deadlines. If it is an ongoing activity, make sure the deadline is recurring. 

10. Ensure your reset plan is sustainable.

The overall goal of a reset day is to reflect on your lifestyle and break down the ways you can improve your life into bite-sized action items. Coming up with solutions and creating a clear plan should eliminate stress by showing your overworked brain that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

While it is important to set deadlines, it’s just as important to make your deadlines realistic. This will avoid you becoming overwhelmed by the pace at which you are accomplishing your plan. If you begin to feel overwhelmed when tackling action items, slow down. Completing one small task a day successfully is better than tackling three major action items with subpar results.  Setting realistic expectations for yourself is the foundation of your plan on how to avoid burnout.

Wrapping Up your Personal Reset Day. 

Once you’ve completed the ten steps to build your reset plan, it’s time to celebrate. Take a minute to relish the beauty of your plan and how you’ve brought calm to the chaos. Pour yourself a glass of wine, put on an episode of your favorite show, or keep the destress momentum going and indulge in a relaxing bath. Finish your day with a reward, you deserve it. 

What happens if I get behind on my reset plan? 

When you begin tackling your reset plan, be kind to yourself. There will be days you don’t accomplish any tasks on the plan. You may get behind on your reset plan. That’s ok. Your reset plan is a work in progress and will constantly be evolving. If you get behind on two or more tasks, pause, take a step back, and simply take five minutes to…drumroll please…reset the plan. Are there any tasks that are no longer important or pressing? If so, eliminate them. Are there new pressing action items that you didn’t foresee? Simply add them to the top of your priority list. Once you’ve re-evaluated the plan, set new realistic deadlines for the action items, and repeat this process as necessary.