AOC’s tips to Beat Burnout

By Rep Alexandria Ocasio Cortez

Burnout, especially in these times, seems to have become common. When there is so much happening in the world around you and in your direct sphere of influence, it can be especially overwhelming.

Burnout is awful, and especially hard to manage because it’s hard to figure it out.  I’ve experienced burnout in both big and small episodes, and having been there and back a few times, here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. It’s important to create healthy expectations and compassion for yourself when recovering from burnout. This sucks, but burnout can take a long time to recover from.
  2. Burnout has a lot of contributing factors — it’s not just working long hours. Think of your whole self as a cup. Participating in certain activities that are physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally demanding means that you’re pouring from your cup.

A healthy balance is when you both fill and pour from your cup. When you do things you’ve always wanted to do, or that bring you joy and are just for you — you fill your cup. But when you’re obligated to fulfill demanding work that crowds out any time or energy for you to do things that fill your cup, your cup runs dry — and that’s burnout.

Rest alone won’t heal it. You need to start doing the opposite of what got you here: which means you’ve got a prescription for indulgence and strong boundaries.

  1. For the indulgence piece, you need to refill your energy bar — both physically and spiritually/mentally. If you’re physically exhausted, you need to spend time being a total potato in bed for hours and not feel guilty about it. But if you’re spiritually/mentally drained, then you need to write a list of things you selfishly want to do just for you.

They could be small things like getting your nails done, or big things like scratching off a bucket list item. And start prioritizing them. Cancel other things so you can do these.

  1. On boundaries, there’s a lot of stuff we do because we feel like we have to. Some of this comes from the pressure we put on ourselves, but some of it also comes from other people. Feeling guilty is intense, and it can feel much easier in the moment to pour from your cup, so we just say “yes” to everything. Not anymore. You need to delegate, cancel, and ask for help. You might upset some people, so be it.

It’s my theory that women and people of all genders who are raised and programmed to give, get burnt out more because we’re not taught to say “no.”

Here’s my advice: don’t think of work or other commitments as one big pour. We make lots of decisions at work or for our families. Start with microscopic decisions that reduce the pour. Does that meeting really need to be 30 minutes, or could 15 minutes or maybe an email suffice? Can a family member be doing more? Do your kids need you to do something for them?

You need to be like the IRS in spiritually auditing the use of your time and energy. It may feel ruthless and selfish at first, but consider the alternative of potentially developing a chronic illness or a panic attack.

So, yes, you can beat a burnout.

(Abridged from her social media post)

Image courtesy of Photo: AOC Campaign

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