“I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
“No rest for the wicked!”
“I’ll take a break when things slow down…”
Sound familiar? If so, it’s likely something you or someone you know said before entering a stage of burnout. Rest is so important! It provides our bodies and minds the much-needed time to recharge.
Get Enough Sleep
Some people have circadian rhythms that only need a handful of hours of sleep each day. That is the exception, not the rule, and the chance of you being one of them is extremely slim. The CDC states that adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per night. In addition to higher levels of anxiety and depression, insufficient sleep is linked to chronic illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Prioritize Your Night’s Sleep
Setting boundaries in your work life and personal life is hard, but necessary. Prioritize your night’s sleep. If you are consistently getting less than 7 hours of sleep, chances are you won’t be as effective of a worker (or, in my case anyway, as effective of a human being). Stop working at least 8-9 hours before you need to wake up the next day. Aim to be screen-free for the last 30-60 minutes before bed to improve your quality of sleep.
Naps are Underrated
Why did naps have to stop in kindergarten? They shouldn’t be just for toddlers. Studies show that naps can improve mood, memory, and cognitive function. Most adults should aim for 20 minutes, but not longer than 30 minutes to avoid reaching deeper levels of the sleep cycle and waking up groggy.
Rest Your Eyes and Ears
Many of us are incessantly bombarded with stimuli. Make sure to give your eyes and your ears a break to help with strain and fatigue.
Eyes: The 20-20-20 Rule
This is something I’ve been told by eye doctors to help those of us who spend most of the day staring at a computer screen. Every 20 minutes, stare 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will help prevent eye strain and maintain healthier eyes. If you aren’t seated near a window and don’t have 20 feet of space in front of you, spent 20 seconds moving your eyes around the room.
Ears: Silence is Golden
I had a therapist once tell me that she was practicing driving in the car without any kind of music as a way to be more mindful. I tried it myself, and drove the entire way home with no music or podcasts. It was surprisingly peaceful, almost meditative. Now, I make an effort to simply sit alone with my thoughts without any background noise.
Also, less of a mental health rule and more as a general rule for ear health, doctors recommend listening to headphones at 60% or less volume for 60 minutes or less per day.
Take Your Midday Break
Regain some energy, improve concentration, and reduce your stress with a midday break. There is abundant evidence that taking breaks from work has a positive impact on your well-being. Try to stop eating lunch while working at your desk. If you find yourself losing track of time, schedule a “meeting” so that you receive a reminder to take a 30-60 minute break in the middle of your day.
Structuring your day with the help of time batching is a wonderful way to consciously schedule breaks into your day, helping you become more productive while reducing the likelihood of burnout.