Bounce back from burnout with these 3 simple steps

Feb 20, 2019

Inevitably, there will come a point during your freelancing career when you need a time out. Your tank may be on E and your battery might be on the cusp of dying. This can happen over a prolonged period of time or it might happen without warning. Regardless of the circumstances, there is nothing wrong with recharging.

Many of us have end goals, outcomes, and benchmarks that we use to determine our progress and, ultimately, our success. When we fall slightly short of these goals, we may become down, sluggish, or even closed off. Knowing that you need a reboot is one of the first, and most critical, steps in regaining the motivation that you need to stay focused and productive.

So, what does recharging look like and how can you do it? Here are 3 simple steps that you can take starting right now.

Take a mental inventory

Too often, we think of self-care as a luxury or something that we should treat ourselves to. But in fact, it should be a natural part of your daily routine. What this looks like will vary from person to person, but what’s most important is that your self-care regimen revolves around those things that edify you and bring you joy and comfort.

Ask yourself: What do I need? What is missing? What is abundant? Typically, the need to recharge is precipitated by something or a series of events that leave us feeling taxed or overwhelmed. If you can identify what your triggers are, you are better positioned to either prevent them or deal with them, instead of reacting to the triggers. In this sense, your mental inventory can serve as a preemptive measure.

Take a sabbatical

With proper planning and provisions, taking a purposeful break may be exactly what you need. A change of scenery or even disrupting your daily habits may provide you with a fresh perspective and even inspiration for a new project or task. Because not working and not being productive in a traditional sense may be stressful (which defeats the purpose), make sure that you are clear about the purpose of your sabbatical and use it to your professional benefit.

If going on leave is unrealistic, you may want to consider adding some new things to your wheelhouse: When did you last take a class, learn a new skill, or do something uncharacteristic? Often times, exploring new opportunities is a springboard for growth and much needed variation.

Practice mindfulness

Reminding yourself that your work is purposeful will help you get through rough patches or dry seasons. However, if your work is not aligned to your purpose, there is a strong possibility that what you do will simply end up as an additional item on your to-do list. This, too, can lead to burnout. Therefore, try to tap back into why you became a freelancer.

To do so, actively engage in contemplative exercises such as meditation, yoga, and even personal affirmations. All can help you re-center. Even reading books written by people whom you admire can help you recharge. Aligning your work to our passion will help you to manage its stresses.

Whether you refer to it as recharging, rebooting, retooling, or reenergizing, take time to be your optimal self. Every small step that you take will place you one step closer to being recharged and ready to go.

Tyra Seldon

Tyra Seldon is a former English Professor turned writer, editor and small business owner. Her writing addresses the intersections of race, gender, culture and education.