If you’re showing signs of burnout - or even if burnout has already reduced you to ashes - there’s a powerful antidote that may surprise you.
Practice mental self-care.
Most of us know about physical, spiritual, and emotional self-care. They’ll all nurture you, and help prevent - or even heal - burnout. But we tend to lump in mental self-care with emotional self-care, even though they’re distinct from each other.
Emotional self-care focuses more on checking in with yourself about how you’re feeling, and taking action in response to your feelings. By contrast, mental self-care is much more about you being discerning of what you allow into your mind, and how you care for it.
When you’re not discerning about your mind’s contents, you can push yourself toward burnout by, for example, judging yourself more harshly than you do anyone else. Your inner critic leaps to belittle you at the slightest perceived lapse on your part. No matter what you do, it’s never quite up to your exacting standards; and so, you burn yourself out in a doomed pursuit of perfection.
Here’s what will help.
How To Practice Mental Self-Care
When you practice mental self-care, you choose activities to declutter your mind and reduce your stress levels. Caring for your mental health is best if tailored to what’s most relevant to you. As well, your mind needs to be exercised to protect it from cognitive decline and chemical imbalance that can cause depression or anxiety that will make burnout worse.
Ideally, your mental self-care practice will:
- Support your emotional needs: for example, this could involve practicing positive thinking and avoiding catastrophic thinking so you can feel happy and optimistic. Practicing self-compassion and acceptance, for example, helps you maintain a healthier inner dialogue.
- Engage your creativity: for example, you may want to draw, paint, or write. Allowing your creativity to run wild is a great way to exercise your mind and de-stress. Find an activity you enjoy such as painting, drawing, or writing that allows for creative self-expression. Let go of shame, regret, and caution, and let your artistic sessions get as weird as you want them to be. And don’t be concerned about whether you are any good at it; that’s why you practice it!
- Challenge your brain in constructive ways, such as crossword puzzles or sudoku, or learning about a subject that fascinates you. You might find reading books or watching movies that inspire you fuels your mind, which in turn causes your body to release "feel good" chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. Plus, you get the satisfaction of completing a challenge.
You can see how the outlooks you choose and the information you're filling your mind with greatly influence your mental well-being. This is why I encourage you to be choosy about what you allow into your mind and the thoughts and beliefs you hang on to.
Now let’s take a look at how you can prevent or even heal burnout by practicing mental self-care.
How Mental Self-Care Helps With Burnout
Let’s think about burnout for a minute. When you’re burned out, your problems seem insurmountable. Life is bleak. Your ongoing unhappiness and detachment caused by being burned out can threaten your job, your relationships, and your health.
When you’re heading into burnout, your mental outlook is highly pessimistic. Your mind is filled with thoughts and beliefs that trap you in a downward spiral of negativity…
“It’s not worth it.”
“I don’t care.”
These are the kinds of thoughts that fill your mind when you’re burned out, and which are essential to counter with a mental self-care routine.
Because burnout could be accurately described as a type of mental malady, can you see how practicing mental self-care can bring you back from burnout and into wellness?
Some Questions To Understand The Current State Of Your Mental Self-Care
You may not know where to begin to think about the current state of your mental self-care. I’ve got you covered - here are a few questions to consider:
- Are you making enough time for activities that mentally stimulate you?
- Are you doing proactive things to help you stay mentally healthy?
- Do you spend more time feeling positive or more dwelling in negativity?
- What could you do right now to feel more optimistic?
If you’d like to share your thoughts, I’d love to hear! Send me a message. And use your answers to start creating your own routine.
Get Started On Your Own Mental Self-Care Practice
There’s no reason for you to spend one more moment sliding toward burnout. Now that I’ve given you these practices you can base an effective mental self-care routine on, I encourage you to take some time to figure out what type of care would best support your mental wellness.
Though many people do overlook caring for themselves mentally, you now understand how important it is. Add mental self-care into your other self-care practices, if you already have them. Or start with a mental care routine that you can then add onto.
Just get started! That’s the most important thing.
In my next article, I’ll be talking about emotional self-care and will give you suggestions for how to start or enhance your own practices. You can get notified when the next article is available, plus get more tips and advice for overcoming burnout, when you sign up for my email list.
Instead of staying mired in burnout and feeling bleak about the future, you owe it to yourself to be well and happy. Time to get going.