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With the official first day of autumn just ahead and school in full gear, you may be asking yourself, “Where did summer go”? It feels like summer months become more fleeting each year, and September is a blip before the busy time of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and year’s end. The sports, schedules, activities, and work commitments all tend to gear up in the last three months of the year, and while asking after summer, you also may be feeling a bit at the end of your tether, aka burnout. Be it family demands, or workplace stress, burnout isn’t just a mindset; it also has physical and emotional implications.

First, can you be burnt out and still be productive? Yes! Even if you are getting everything done on your “to-do” list, nailing your daily routine, and showing up on time, you can still suffer from burnout. Are you exhausted, short-tempered, or having trouble finding joy in the things where you once did? Or are you feeling like you’re struggling through each day versus thriving in your day-to-day? If yes, then you, my friend, are very much burnt out. So, what next?

You may have a generalized feeling of burnout, but can you identify the main source? When you understand the problem, you can then find the solution. If you’re stressed at work, is it because you’re understaffed, or you don’t have the right tools for the job, or are you working too much and are unable to do other things important to you? They are all very different problems and require different approaches to make a change. Are you burnt out from a jam-packed schedule, health concerns, or relationship trouble? Pinpointing the cause of your duress can turn you towards finding the means of alleviating it.

One solution that fits all manner of burnout is taking care of your body. You may find it exhausting and overwhelming if you’re not getting any exercise, enough sleep, or enough downtime, even if you are attempting to do things you enjoy. Sleep and exercise are important links to mood and energy, as is balanced eating. Taking care of your body will fortify you to address your current challenges.

Speaking of challenges, so many people who get burned out feel overwhelmed by other people’s expectations. You can combat those expectations by saying no to the people asking. A good mantra for this is by saying “no” to some people; you can say “yes” to others. You can say no to your co-workers when they ask you to work late so you can say yes to your family who are expecting you home for dinner. You can say no to your child’s request for a new toy, so you can say yes to saving money for their new bike. You can say no to our mother-in-law when she asks you to host a family party so you can say yes to your own sanity and clean house.

Next up, set a good example. For instance, if you want your children to read for pleasure but they never see you reading for pleasure, they’re not going to associate reading with something a person does for fun. If you want to set aside Wednesday for no meeting days, then you need to decline meeting requests and set up notices for Do Not Disturb. In other words, be the change you want to see.

Lastly, let things go and do something to recharge. Play hooky and binge-watch a 90’s sitcom on a Wednesday, leave the dishes dirty in the sink and go for a walk after dinner, let kids stay up 30 more minutes, and bust out the Play-Doh. Sometimes, you just have to give up the ghost, stop pushing, and do something to recharge. Think of it like putting on your oxygen mask before assisting others. Having time “off” and doing something that gives you joy will bring you back to being “on” in a better frame of mind.

Remember the solution to your own personal burnout may not have an easy fix, but taking time for yourself and hitting the refresh button in whatever way works best for you, will help you from becoming snuffled out when burning the candle at both ends.