Don’t fear, Jackie is here! Welcome to Aquí, Between Us, a bi-weekly advice column created for your mental wealth. In this week’s installment, Jackie answers the following question from a reader: 

Q: How can I manage stress [and burnout]? Besides [doing] meditation and breathing exercise.

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Do you feel your physical, mental, and emotional battery are running low? 

You are not alone. I have experienced burnout throughout my trajectory of being a human and therapist. My definition of burnout from personal experiences: you are not yourself when you are burnt out; you lose interest in activities you used to enjoy practicing, you feel disconnected from yourself and others, you are constantly in ‘survival mode’, and you struggle to find joy in your everyday life.

Burnout does not happen overnight. Burnout is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion as a result of accumulated stress. Burnout can lead to lack of energy, isolation, irritability, and physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, muscle pain, dizziness, chest pain among others.

My question to you is: What is the stress factor that is driving you to burnout

There are many factors that lead to burnout. For example,

  • Occupational 
  • Interpersonal 
  • Financial
  • Academic 
  • Environmental 
  • Political 

If you are experiencing burnout, here are some ways to manage and recover from it. 

1. Assess, set and hold your boundaries:

Unhealthy boundaries can lead to burnout. Boundaries are the limits you set to create a safe space between yourself and others. Boundaries can sound like:

  • “I am no longer working [enter X number of hours], I am returning to my regular 40-hour week.”
  • “I am not available that weekend, but we can schedule for the next following one if you are free?” 
  • “That doesn’t work for me, I am willing to [enter what you are willing to compromise]?”

2. Ask for support: 

Don’t suffer in silence and reach out to your support system.  

  • Ask yourself what is it you need. 
  • Is it reaching out to a friend who can hold space for you? Going on a hike with a loved one? Or 1:1 time with your partner?  

3. Identify and practice coping skills:

What type of practices bring you joy? 

  • Coping skills can include painting, reading, meditating, journaling, listening to music, surfboarding, weightlifting, lifting, cooking, baking, etc. Coping skills can help regulate your emotions and manage stressful situations effectively.

4. Make self-care a priority:

You can’t pour from an empty cup, make sure to fill it every day. What are your daily doses that help you stay grounded? This can be as simple as making your bed, meal prepping, keeping up with your favorite TV show, and connecting with your loved ones. 

5. Take a mental health day:

Whatever this may look like for you, take some time to recharge. 

What do you do to connect with yourself? This can be taking a social media break, not responding to emails, silencing your cell-phone notifications to make time and space to regroup.  

6. Move your body:

A simple way to boost your happy hormones is by moving your body. Body movement can reduce levels of stress, improve mood, boost self-confidence and quality of life. 

7. Stay hydrated:

Dehydration may cause lack of energy, confusion, headaches, or irritability.

Factors that lead to stress and burnout can be external. Shifting your focus on what’s within your control rather than investing energy on what’s outside of your control is key to managing burnout. These are some ways to help manage and prevent burnout. Incorporate what works for you.

Sending you all my best wishes on your healing journey.

Very best,

Jacqueline Garcia, LCSW, @therapylux