The tools I use to manage stress and avoid burnout

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Stress and burnout are big deals for everyone. A large part of it stems from the efforts we pour into our daily lives as we strive to reach our goals. We all juggle different roles and tasks. Sure, on paper, our job descriptions greatly vary. We all have different life experiences, but the attitude and focus we bring to the table significantly influence everyone around us, whether at work or in our personal lives. Our attitude is the one thing we truly command. So, let me share a few tricks I've picked up to manage stress, dodge burnout, and stay sane - well, mostly sane - all while keeping my attitude toward life in check.

When I wake up, the first thing I do is spend some time observing myself. Some might call this 'Shikantaza' in Zen or 'Svadhyaya' in yoga. I call it 'sitting and breathing.' Sure, we all sit and breathe, but doing it with intention, that's different. You can put the books and gurus aside for now. Just set a timer for 15 minutes, sit, and observe yourself before you start observing others (like before you begin checking texts, emails, scrolling social media ).

I keep a checklist. This list of tasks and reminders outlines my day, week, and month. It helps me set goals for work and for my personal life. It's how I evaluate how much time I give to everything, making sure I don't overburden myself. It's easy to say "yes" to so much that nothing gets done well. This often leads to stress and burnout because we take on more than we can handle. Checklists help me make sure that what I set goals for and agree to matters to me (since it gets my time) and naturally leads me to say "no" to things that don't fit into my path.

Bicycling. I listened to Andrew Huberman's podcasts a while back, and he often talks about the benefits of exercise. One of his podcasts suggested we all aim to get about 150-200 minutes a week of zone 2 cardio. Biking is how I get that in. Find your happy exercise place; it won't feel like exercise anymore. (not affiliated with his work at all, but I'd love to be, Andrew, reach out!)

Well, there you have it; a bit of self-observation, a thought-out plan with reminders, and some exercise helps keep me from climbing the walls (unless wall climbing is your happy exercise).

These are the tools I use to manage my stress and avoid burnout. How about you?