How to Prevent Burnout: 9 Tips to Refuel Your Mind

If I told you that you needed to drive your car nonstop across the country, no fuel stops, what would you say? Impossible. Our cars were not built to go that far without stopping for fuel.

So why is it a surprise that we humans are not meant to work and think nonstop?  Unfortunately, fuel is too obvious of an answer. When we run out of fuel, much like a car, we simply stop. Fueling our bodies is important, but so is fueling our minds and addressing our mental health.

A more subtle analogy to mental health is the oil in the car. As we drive, we eventually begin to breakdown the oil, and over time that oil becomes less effective. If we don’t heed the car’s warnings, our engine is forced to run with low or no oil and will literally burn out – it will overheat and stop working.

Similar to low oil in a car, mental exhaustion can cause you to burnout. This is a result of placing demands beyond what our bodies were meant to sustain.

How Can You Prevent Burnout?

This pandemic has been a tsunami of new information. We want to synthesize and draw conclusions because that is how our brains are wired. But when we get new data that amends or even contradicts earlier data, it creates conflict.

One way to solve that mental conflict is by creating distance from the data. Time is often a great distance creator. We need to slow down the pace in order to get our needed space to think and to put things into perspective.

Practice the following actions and attitudinal mindsets to slow down the pace and buffer yourself from mental exhaustion and burnout:

Stop consuming information nonstop.

Being connected 24-hours a day can lead to mental strain and anxiety. Schedule regular times throughout the day to take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to the news.

Recognize that information is not timeless.

Information is bound by what is known at the time. We are wired to make meaning, and from that meaning draw conclusions. But that may not be possible and conclusions we may make are not timeless.

Calm your mind through intentional practices.

Meditation is something often discussed but seldom practiced by many. It can also be useful to keep in mind the 6 Rs that help you manage stress and anxiety in a healthy way:

Focus on something else.

Give your mind something else to think about other than the pandemic. It would be preferable to think about something that is energizing and uplifting.

Practice a mindset of gratitude.

So easy to say, so hard to do. Gratitude is a mindset that searches for and recognizes the things that we can be grateful for. The practice of gratitude energizes us and helps us in times of adversity.

Practice a mindset of confidence.

This is more than “the little engine that could.” It is also a mindset that is based on a belief that we are capable of taking the action needed to accomplish what is needed in the face of adversity. Confidence inspires hope.

Practice a mindset of meaning and purpose.

This is the mindset that my life has meaning and value and purpose. It is also a mindset that my actions have purpose and thus I must act to continue on despite setbacks and difficulty.

Practice a mindset of connectedness.

This is the mindset that I do not have to do this alone and in fact should not have to. That we are not alone and there are many who are on this journey, and together, we can overcome.

Practice a mindset of positivity.

This is not a glass is half full orientation although that can be helpful. It is a mindset that is nourished by the benefit of positive emotions that often come from gratitude, purpose, and connectedness. It is both a result, as well as a mindset, as we recognize that we need to have a life enriched with positive thoughts to help buffer us in times of adversity.

Don’t Forget to Fuel Your Body

As mentioned in the car analogy above, our bodies, like the car, need fuel. But we need fuel that helps our overall health. We must consume important sources of nutrients to fuel our cells to do what they were designed to do.

This involves a host of nutrients found in a healthy diet, that unfortunately we often fail to consume. The diets of many people around the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) deliver less than recommended amounts of magnesium and vitamins A, C, D, and E.

We should think about nutrient needs and meeting nutrient gaps to fuel our bodies.

Kent L. Bradley, M.D., MBA, MPH – Chief Health and Nutrition Officer

Kent L. BradleyM.D., MBA, MPH – Chief Health and Nutrition Officer

Dr. Bradley is a retired Army Colonel, graduate of the United States Military Academy and has a Master in Public Health from the University of Minnesota, an executive MBA from the University of Denver, and a medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland. He is board certified in Public Health and Preventive Medicine and holds a certificate in Corporate Governance from INSEAD.