Burnout and the resulting "Great Resignation" have been making headlines. Stress has moved many to leave their jobs in search of greater fulfilment, better working conditions, or an improved work/life balance.
Have you been affected by this serious condition? What can you do to avoid or recover from burnout?
Experts recommend specific, mindful travel activities as an antidote to burnout. Consider the following tips.
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What Is Burnout?
WebMD describes burnout in this way: "Burnout is a form of exhaustion caused by constantly feeling swamped. It's a result of excessive and prolonged emotional, physical, and mental stress. In many cases, burnout is related to one's job. Burnout happens when you're overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to keep up with life's incessant demands."
"We are not designed to cope with the high levels of stress and deskbound routines all too common in a typical corporate career," says Josh Bender of Forever Break. "Our minds are designed to learn, grow, and help others. And our bodies are designed to move, be nourished, and rest."
Travel can help us to do that. How?
Take a Vacation
Getting out of the office and away from the stressful demands of work for a few days to a few weeks can help you recover from burnout and leave you feeling refreshed.
But what if the nature of your responsibilities precludes a stint of vacation days? Find out if you can do your job remotely for a period of time.
Slow travel is becoming increasingly popular, and it is well suited for remote workers. While working remotely, you can travel anywhere with a good internet connection. Just being in a different location will provide a change of pace. While you are there, you can enjoy the sights and cuisine after work or on weekends.
Remember to make a clear demarcation between work time and travel time. Taking a "work-cation" doesn't mean you should be on call all the time. You should devote a set amount of time to fulfilling your work responsibilities - perhaps similar to the hours you would have spent in the office. But you should also have time allotted for rest and recreation. Set limits on your availability and consider unplugging, as discussed below.
Get Out in Nature
Studies have found that spending time in nature helps reduce stress when compared to spending time in urban environments. For example, in one study, walking in a "high-traffic urban setting" was associated with activity in a region of the brain associated with depression. When people walked in a natural setting for 90 minutes, that harmful brain activity decreased. Other studies have linked self-reported feelings of happiness and calmness to viewing scenes of beautiful natural places.
What does this mean for you? If you are feeling burnout, you may benefit if you take a hike, go swimming at the beach, or drive through a national park. If this kind of travel is not plausible, find a green space near your home or workplace and take a walk.
Getting out in nature can also help you to unplug as discussed below. After all, at a certain point, you're beyond the reach of 5G connections and cell phone chargers.
Today, we are more connected than ever. We can be reached at any time by email, text, or phone call. We can even have simulated in-person meetings with clients and colleagues around the world via Zoom, Facetime, Skype, and similar media.
But this constant connectivity has drawbacks as well. Unlike former generations, work is not always left at work. We may feel that we are always "on call." The lines between work and the rest of life blur.
This stress can be eased by "unplugging" and having device-free days. Set up a voicemail message and an automated email response. Turn off your phone, tablet, or computer. Take some time to enjoy the great outdoors, your family and friends, a restaurant, or some other location without the potential of interruption.
The fast-paced, technology-driven work environment and way of life can lead to feelings of stress, tiredness, anxiety, and burnout. Travel can help. It provides a break from the demands and monotony of your job. Device-free days and seeking the beauty of nature can also help you recover from burnout.