St. Charles Herald-Guide

BURNOUT 5 ways to beat it and feel good again

By Derek Clontz - January 17, 2007

Burned out? You can recover your zest for working and living with tips from an expert.

"People in all walks of life suffer burnout," psychologist Dr. Beryl West, of Seattle, Washington, told the Herald-Guide in an exclusive interview.

"Burnout results when a worker is under unrelenting stress over a long period of time.

“Warning signs include physical and emotional exhaustion, irritability, depression, anger, sleeplessness and a tendency to withdraw from people."

Here, from the psychologist, are five strategies to help you overcome burnout:

1. Get away from it all, even for just a weekend.

Go camping. Head for the beach. If you're strapped for cash, "vacation" for a couple of days in a local motel. The change will help break the stress-pattern that got you in trouble in the first place.

2. Give a hug, get a hug.

Hugging is a natural way to get back in touch with people after you've pushed them away while stressing over your job and career.

We all respond to reassuring feelings of being held close.

"If you don't have anyone to hug, hug your dog or your cat," says West. "Even a stuffed animal or doll will work."

3. Give up any grudges you're holding.

"Grudges are a heavy load and eat up your energy," says West. "Forgive everyone you know for their offenses against you. And don't forget to forgive yourself for your own misdeeds."

4. Set aside one room in your home or apartment as "your place."

Declare it off limits to everyone else, then use it regularly to listen to music, watch TV, read, or just plain relax. When life and work get rough, you'll always have your retreat - and you can use it to recover your equilibrium and good spirits.

5. Do something you loved to do as a child.

Fly a kite, roll in the grass or enjoy a cookie dipped in milk.

"Taking care of your needs in gentle and easy ways will help rekindle your fire for life," West says.