Burnout is more than just a sign you need to slow down, it's a serious psychological response to stressors in our lives.  We live in a world where "busy" is a badge of honor, and feeling burned out is all too common.  R&R seems to be so far down on our list of priorities yet is so important for our mental, physical, and emotional well-being. As a small business owner, I know all too well how burnout can take a toll on our bodies. So  this year I've been on a mission to learn preventative strategies to keep burnout at bay. Here are the most effective tips I've found:

1. Schedule an Hour to Relax Every Day
Whether you're a busy mom or a busy CEO, you need time to relax and re-focus. Spending 60 minutes doing something you truly enjoy can do wonders for your mental well-being.  Yoga, painting, meditation, zoning out while watching Bravo with a glass of wine...whatever makes you feel chill, make time for it daily.  Schedule free time on your calendar just like you would a business meeting and stick to it!  

2. Take a Nap
I used to HATE napping, but I've come to realize a nap (even if you don't actually doze) is a million times better than that second cup of coffee.  Naps refresh the brain in a way caffeine simply can't, and studies show that a 20 minute nap can increase you brain activity and energy levels.  Just make sure to limit that nap to 20 minutes...30 minutes or more of snoozing can leave you groggy and lethargic.  Siestas are my jam, y'all. 

3. Learn to Say No
Trying to be all things to all people will leave you feeling drained.  It's okay to deny your friends request to go get margaritas on a Tuesday night when you really just want to crawl into bed by 8:30.  It's okay to turn down an invite to brunch from your in-laws after a long week.  It's also okay to tell your boss you have a lot on your plate and would like to finish your current projects before starting a new work project.  Besides, one of the worst things you can do for your career is to over-promise and under-deliver.  Practice saying no to things that don't bring you joy and aren't true obligations.  You'll feel lighter and have more energy to do the things that do bring you joy in life.  

4. Exercise
When you're exhausted, exercise is the last thing we feel like doing, but according to a study released by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on preventing burnout in the workplace, exercise doesn't further exhaust us, it gives us a physical AND mental boost.  Below is an excerpt from their study:
“Cardiovascular exercise was found to increase well-being and decrease psychological distress, perceived stress, and emotional exhaustion. Resistance training was noticeably effective in increasing well-being and personal accomplishment and to reduce perceived stress.“  
So next time you feel too drained for a gym sesh, just try to get your heart pumping for 20 minutes. Even small increments of exercise can yield huge health benefits. 

These techniques have saved me from fatigue, insomnia, agitation, and other common symptoms of burnout. Post your favorite ways to prevent burnout in the comments below!  

Written by Stephanie Paige
Owner, Fitness 51

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