Are you burnt out?

4359017247_0f453b1773_zWhat can athletes teach us about avoiding burnout?

Believe it or not, some of the same principles that help them avoid injury and make the most of their workouts can actually help us avoid professional burnout as well.

When we were younger, most of us had endless amounts of energy and rarely burnt ourselves out. I personally had three part-time jobs, played college sports and was a full-time student. Looking back, I’m not sure how I did it and was able to incorporate a social life as well.

Now that I’m older and would like to think, wiser, I seem to be more burnt out just holding down one full-time job, playing recreational sports and maintaining a social life. I guess that age thing catches up with all of us. Not to mention trying to balance family and work life, it’s easy to see how we burn through those “energy reserves.”

Speaking of wisdom, here are five simple ways to recharge and avoid burnout:

  • Cross-training in athletics refers to switching sports, rather than burning yourself out with the same exercises and routines over and over. In a professional setting, cross-training refers to regularly shifting activities. I consciously shift from activity to activity. First, I might work on a blog post.  Next, I might answer emails. After that, I might read a few articles. The idea is to keep changing what you’re doing so that you don’t have a chance to get bored and burn out.
  • Interval training in athletics is alternating high-intensity exercise with conscious rest periods. I do the same thing in my life. A good example of this, is 20 minutes of weight-training with 5 minutes of rest and repeat this for an hour or so. This keeps you fresh and gives you convenient reminders to shift activities.
  • Regular exercise is critical for health, stamina and happiness. Everyone knows that, but who has time to go to the gym? Then read my post, “Do you struggle to find time for exercise?” It honestly is all about making time and there are plenty of opportunities to squeeze it into your day.
  • Regular meals and snacks is the best way to keep your energy levels up and stimulate your bloodstream. A lot of people crash throughout the day, especially in the afternoons due to low blood sugar. I personally start every day off with some protein via bars, shakes or just something simple like scrambled eggs. Then I snack again around 10:00 a.m., eat lunch around 12:00 p.m., and then have an afternoon snack around 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. Then again at 6:00 p.m. and the last at 9:00 p.m. The key is to break them up and have six small meals a day, which will give you consistent and sustained energy. If you have large meals or snacks, you will feel lethargic and sleepy.
  • Sleep when you need it. It’s hard for me to get a full eight hours of sleep at night. So I usually just get six to seven. Most of us have kids who like to wake up early and/or a dog who tends to wake up in the middle of the night to play. But rather than wandering around in a zombie-like state of fatigue, I simply sleep when I need it. Whenever I’m tired, and I don’t have a pressing emergency, I simply lie down for a 10-15 minute power-nap. Sometimes I’ll take two or more naps if I’m feeling run down. It takes less time than running to Starbucks, with better results.

The beauty of these five techniques is that you can apply them to whatever line of work that you’re in. If you follow them, you’ll be able to keep yourself running at top efficiency and productivity, even with a busy schedule.

What other insights from the gym or athletics apply to how we manage our workweek?

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